Retaliation for Participating in an Investigation, Quirky Question # 65
Quirky Question # 65:
Our company has made concerted efforts to encourage our employees to report incidents of possible discrimination. Our HR Department is responsible for receiving and investigating discrimination complaints. Through our internal investigation efforts, we have been able to head off possible litigation and address potentially serious problems.
On the flip side, however, the internal investigation process has given rise to some personnel management issues. Just recently, for example, an employee with existing performance issues was interviewed in connection with an internal investigation. She provided information corroborating another employee’s discrimination complaint.
Last week, the manager of the employee who was interviewed approached HR about terminating the employee because of her performance issues. The manager is adamant that this employee must be discharged. HR, however, is concerned that terminating her now, just weeks after she provided troubling information during an internal discrimination investigation, might be considered retaliatory. Complicating the issue, the manager who is insisting on firing her is good friends with the person about whom she provided damaging information. Maybe this just was coincidental.
It appears that the employee’s performance problems are fairly well documented and support a termination decision. Can we go ahead with the termination without violating the laws against retaliation? Would it be better to let more time pass before we terminate her? Do we need to treat employees with “kid gloves” once they participate in investigations, or are we safe to proceed with business as usual? Help! Answer→