New NPR Show? The Worst Way To Fire Someone.


The firing of Juan Williams from his job at NPR provides a textbook example of “How Not To Fire.” It highlights a rationale that many employers use to make terminations that can easily backfire: using a single “event” to justify the termination of a particular employee without examining whether the employer has used a similar event to terminate a similarly situated employee.

Employers need to consider whether a court or jury will later consider the “excuse” for termination as synonymous with “pretext.” In making a claim of discrimination against an employer, employees may use circumstantial evidence to show that the employer’s stated reason for the termination is false. If the circumstantial evidence shows that the articulated reason is not worthy of credence, then the appearance of giving a false reason may be used by the employee to establish intentional discrimination. If doubt exists about the employer’s real reason, the employer will lose at the summary judgment stage, and the case will proceed to trial.

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