Supervisors’ Words and Deeds Often Play Key Roles in Employment-Related Lawsuits

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Not all employers follow the rules or have their employees’ best interests at heart. Some discriminate or otherwise treat employees unfairly.

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The words and actions of an employer, a supervisor or a manager may help an employee prove an employment law case based on mistreatment or discrimination.

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It’s important to pay attention to — and document — the words a supervisor or manager uses with you as an employee. If you are unfairly terminated or discriminated against in some other way, those words may demonstrate that the employer took adverse action with ill intent toward you. This could be crucial in any employment-related lawsuit you may file.

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For example, take the story told in a blog post on Bloomberg about a woman who sued her employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for discriminating against her for her association with a disabled person, her daughter.

The woman told her employer she needed to take time off to care for her infant daughter, who had reactive airway disease. When the woman was fired from her job after missing work, the supervisor said he was “letting her go” because he needed someone without children to work the front desk, according to the blog post.

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The article further quoted the supervisor as saying to the employee, “I need someone who does not have kids who can be at the front desk at all times. How can you guarantee me that two weeks from now your daughter is not going to be sick again? So, what is it, your job or your daughter?”

The employee was allowed to take her case to a jury with an ADA-based claim after the federal trial court for the Southern District of New York ruled the supervisor’s remarks could be viewed “as a ‘smoking gun’ admission that he believed the receptionist’s daughter was disabled and would be frequently ill and, further, that the termination was directly motivated by hostility toward the employee’s association with her daughter,” the blog item stated.

This case shows how supervisors’ words can show their true feelings, and can get them into legal trouble. Workplace discussions should be about work, whether it is being done and how that work impacts the company. Personal lives and other factors unrelated to work should not influence someone’s employment under the law.

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If you have been discriminated against in the workplace, or think your employer is being unfair or breaking the law, it’s important to discuss your case with an employment discrimination lawyer as soon as possible.

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