TRAIN YOUR MANAGERS IN LAWYER-SPEAK
A recent lawsuit proves once again that one offhand comment by a manager can beenough to result in a costly legal battle.
Alena Fassbender was a medication aide at Correct Care Solutions, a company thatprovides healthcare for prison inmates. Shortly after Fassbender revealed she waspregnant, she was fired.
When Fassbender sued for pregnancy discrimination, the company claimed she was firedfor violating its “no fraternization” policy — Fassbender had received a romantic note froman inmate and hadn’t reported it immediately.
But testimony from Fassbender and other employees suggested otherwise. Severalworkers were also pregnant, and when Fassbender initially told her manager about herpregnancy, the manager said, “What, you’re pregnant too?”
A few days later, another employee overheard the manager say, “I don’t know how I’m goingto be able to handle all these people being pregnant at once” and “I have too manypregnant workers. I don’t know what I’m going to do with all of them.”
A circuit court sent the case to trial, finding the company’s actions “sufficiently suspicious.”Its reasoning for firing Fassbender kept changing, and the manager who made thecomments about the pregnant workers had been reprimanded by the company. A fewmonths after Fassbender had been fired, Correct Care Solutions hired a new employee whoalso was pregnant, which caused the court to question its motivations.
The company is now facing a long legal battle or a costly settlement.
This case is a great reminder that managers can have the ability to make or break a case:the right response may prevent a lawsuit, and the wrong one can cost a company big
Proper training can help managers avoid missteps like this.