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Employee Terminated for Refusing to Meet with Human Resources Lost Race Discrimination Suit

Have you ever had a case where an employee just refused to cooperate and you wanted to fire him or her for such conduct even though the person was in a protected class?  In a recent case in Massachusetts, an employer did just that and beat the predicted lawsuit that followed.  in Windross v. Barton Protective Services, Inc., an African American security guard alleged he was discharged because of his race or color.  Specifically, he alleged that he was initially issued a written disciplinary notice because he switched shifts with a coworker.  Then,  when he asked to see his personnel record a supervisor allegedly yelled at him.  Next, another supervisor instructed him to talk to the human resources manager, but when he met with her, he decided she was “discourteous” and terminated the meeting.

When the human resources manager later requested that he meet with her again, he refused and was suspended.  The next day, the human resources manager called him at home and, again, requested a meeting.  When he refused again, she terminated his employment.

In response to his challenge to the employer’s conduct, the Court ruled that there was no evidence of discrimination and that the company appropriately followed its policies on workplace misconduct. Under its policies, willful misconduct, including insubordination, constituted grounds for immediate termination.  Based on his repeated refusal to comply with the human resources manager’s instructions, he was appropriately discharged.  Thus, because the employer had appropriate policies in place and followed them in a nondiscriminatory manner, the Court granted the employer summary judgment (a dismissal) and a belligerent, uncooperative employee was finally gone from this employer . 

Brody and Associates regularly provides counsel on civil rights issues and employment litigation in general.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.965.0560.