A company terminates an employee for misconduct or violation of company policies. After the worker leaves, other employees go through the fired employee’s customer files (physical or digital) and e-mails, discovering misconduct on a different level or manner than the employer even knew about. The employee then sues the employer for wrongful termination (due to a discriminatory reason) and/or breach of contract. Can the company use this evidence to justify its termination, even though it didn’t even know about it until after the employee was fired?
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals says yes. In Weber v. Fujifilm Medical Systems USA, Inc., et al., Nos. 13-4891 and 14-0206 (October 9, 2014), Fujifilm and its employee had an employment contract. Fujifilm determined that its employee mismanaged company finances and terminated him. The employee sued for breach of contract and violation of the Civil Rights Act via racial discrimination, as he was not Japanese. After he was let go, the company discovered evidence that the former employee had mismanaged finances and had breached his employment contract prior to his termination.
The court allowed the company to introduce the evidence it discovered after the worker was fired to show his termination was for non-discriminatory reasons. Additionally, an employer could potentially use this evidence to limit damages if it would have terminated the employee once the “smoking gun” evidence was discovered.
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