I need to let go an employee who reports directly to me. I had brought this up to them recently, and they got defensive and threatened to sue for racial discrimination, while we are both African Americans, my manager is white, and this employee blames my manager such that they are threatening to sue. I should mention my manager is an open supporter of a political figure who is often accused of being racist, so it's not the hardest argument that they are racist, not at all saying they are, but you could argue that.

I should mention, we are letting this employee go due to their lack of performance.

How do I go about mediating this situation such that I can let the employee go, and avoid the lawsuit?

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    @RichardU That McDonalds had been cited several times for their coffee being served far hotter than it should be. Makes a good punch line, but she had a solid case. – Doyle Lewis Oct 19 '16 at 21:17
  • @DoyleLewis yeah, it is often cited for that reason, but the citation is rubbish, because McDonalds served its coffee at the temperature recommended by various coffee bodies. Thats why a lot of people have an issue with the ruling. – Moo Oct 20 '16 at 9:35
  • Aside from all this, I hope you changed users/passwords, revoked permissions, and ensure that he can't do anything. – Dan Oct 20 '16 at 19:33
  • @Moo: McDonald's had settled 700 burn cases out of court. And I'd like to see a citation for "temperature recommended by various coffee bodies". I thought the reason was "temperature high enough so you can offer free refills without anyone taking advantage of the offer, because it takes ages to cool down to a drinkable temperature". – gnasher729 Sep 12 '17 at 23:55

Termination isn't a discussion, the employee cannot threaten you to retain the job. You mention you have reasons for letting the employee go - I assume those are documented and dated.

Release the employee and, if need be, get a lawyer.

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  • Yes. Thanks to the ease of bringing a suit, the less said the better. Like Joe Friday would say "Just the facts" – Old_Lamplighter Oct 19 '16 at 19:49

One step at a time.

He's been terminated.

When he shows up tomorrow, "You've been terminated. You need to leave. If you do not leave right now, I'm calling the police." And then call the police.

Say nothing else. Nothing. Don't discuss politics. Don't discuss his termination. It's over. Just tell him to leave and call the police if he doesn't. Then say nothing else.

If you get sued, you'll get sued. Anyone can sue. 99% chance he isn't going to sue. Once you get served with a suit, get a lawyer. If you have an HR department, let them handle it.

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    It is not clear the employee has actually been terminated. – paparazzo Oct 19 '16 at 17:00
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    I did technically let them go, but they threatened to sue, so as of right now, the employee is still showing up at work. – Jeff Quick 12 mins ago – Chris E Oct 19 '16 at 17:01
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    That's nuts. Tell them to leave, now. – Ernest Friedman-Hill Oct 19 '16 at 22:56

In this case, the first step you take is to go talk to HR. Immediately. It is their job to tell you how to protect the company in situations like this. They will walk you through exactly the steps you need to take to show there is a genuine performance issue. If you are in the US, one thing you may consider is that they may have far less of a case if you do not give them a reason for being let go.

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    Then you need to hire an HR group to handle this. You have currently mishandled it greatly and it will likely cost the company money. THey need to spend the money on some HR peopel or Labor lawyers now. – HLGEM Oct 19 '16 at 16:50
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    How do you know it will cost them money? Also, not sure why you think OP mishandled it. Feels like you are just jumping to conclusions. – Hobbes Oct 19 '16 at 16:58
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    @Hobbes, OP says in a comment that he technically let the employee go, but the employee threatened to sue and is still coming in and being allowed to work. Sounds like major mishandling to me. – mikeazo Oct 19 '16 at 17:10
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    He mishandled it because he fired teh person and the person is still there. It is likely to cost them money because he handled it in such a way that the person is likely to sue the company. He mishandled it because you never fire anyone without consulting an HR specialist or a Labor lawyer. – HLGEM Oct 19 '16 at 17:10
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    @mikeazo, at that point, it should be up to the manager. – Hobbes Oct 19 '16 at 17:10