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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 18790
Experience:  Employment/Labor Law Litigation
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At the behest of my immediate Leader I put a direct report

Customer Question

At the behest of my immediate Leader I put a direct report on a development plan who immediately filed an ethics complaint in retaliation. The investigation that followed resulted in outright lies and twisted truths relative to the recitation of specific events and conversations, and HR said there was a "perception" that I needed to improve my communication style. There is no previous documentation that this has been an issue yet now, 7 weeks later, I've been given a development plan of my own to address deficiencies in my communication style. The plan does not reference the complaint and is filled with falsehoods and undocumented claims. My performance evaluations have been stellar for 3 of the past 4 years (these last two years specifically) and I feel as if I'm being scapegoated to protect the organization from the claims of an individual who is a loose cannon and should have been dealt with prior to my being placed in this role 7 months ago. Can a lawyer help with this?
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 5 months ago.
Thank you for trusting your question to JA today. I am a licensed attorney with over a decade of law practice and over 20 years of experience in the legal field. I’m happy to be of assistance. Unless the employer has an internal "due process" system that specifically allows for an attorney to petition, there is very little an employment law attorney can do in these situations. Unfortunately, we really only have the ability to assist when these matters are resolved, one way or the other, and then we have to pick through the rumble to figure out whether something was done illegally. Employers don't usually have a forum for us to speak before. External employment law doesn't dictate what a development plan has to look like, when it can be established or whether or not it is appropriate. That is an entirely internal process for employers. After the fact, if the employer has a very strict written policy about how they are supposed to be used, an employment law attorney can come in and sue for breach of that implied contract (a written policy can become an implied contract), but that is only effective and financially sound after a termination. Without a strictly written policy about how those processes are to be done, the employer has free reign. There is nothing inherently illegal with making someone a scapegoat. What matters is the motivation behind it. If the actual motivation is discrimination due to race, religion, gender, age or disability, that is illegal. However, trying to protect the organization from a loose cannon, that's not illegal. It's immature and unprofessional, but not illegal by itself. So, regrettably, until this matter is internally resolved, there is nothing that can be done. Even after it is resolved, unless the employer's written policies are strict enough to establish a quasi contractual obligation as to how the development plans are to be use, there won't be anything that can be done either UNLESS discrimination based on race, religion, gender, age or disability can be alleged. Finally, as to the false statements, you can potentially sue the individual for defamation of character, but that is a personal injury claim and not an employment law matter. If you have any further questions, please let me know. I invite follow up questions, so use REPLY for those. If you have no further questions then good luck going forward and please do not forget to rate my service with a top-three rating so that I receive credit for working with you today. Also, feel free to request me in the future, if you have questions concerning a different matter.
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 5 months ago.
Hello, I wanted to check in and make sure that there was not any additional information that you required. If you need further assistance, please use REPLY and ask me for any additional information you may need. If not, take care and have a great day.