A jury verdict handed down after a trial in Manhattan reinforces some baseline principles governing employee terminations. The plaintiff, a senior vice president at a bank's securities subsidiary, claimed he was harassed and ultimately fired because he opposed sexual harassment visited upon another employee. He said that he was subjected to a campaign of mistreatment by a female former executive and her allies.
The jury, after hearing from the plaintiff, and a "parade of witnesses" saying his job performance was unacceptable, rejected all of his claims.
During its 2-hour 45-minute deliberation, the jury asked to see the performance evaluations prepared about the plaintiff and a woman who was promoted instead of him.
When a jury asks to review certain pieces of evidence, it usually isn't hard to figure out what is happening.
The jury may have been skeptical about a white male who was claiming to be a victim of employment discrimination. But more importantly, the case illustrates in clear, simple, and stark terms the importance of carefully prepared, properly reviewed, and well presented employment evaluations. Many an employer has made a strong case for performance-based termination look much weaker where there are no documents concerning poor job performance, or worse, job performance documents saying the plaintiff was a "good" employee or that the plaintiff "meets expectations." A simple lesson that bears repeating time and time again.