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Woman says boss used poor performance to cover-up retaliation

As many San Diego employees understand, employers may choose to terminate workers' employment for a variety of reasons, including poor performance. Employers in California may even choose to terminate employees for no reason.

However, when discrimination or retaliation are factors when employers choose to terminate employees, employers may be held responsible for breaking the law and violating employee rights. A woman in New Jersey is currently suing her former employer because she claims that she was fired for filing a complaint about sexual harassment in the workplace. The employee did not have the most stellar performance rating at work, and she was later fired for her alleged poor performance. She claims that her boss retaliated against her by using her poor performance as an excuse to fire her.

Although employers have every right to terminate workers when employees fail to do their jobs correctly, the woman's lawsuit argues that employers cannot fire poor performing employees when discrimination or retaliation are the motives for choosing to fire employees.

The woman had worked for an executive officer at a financial services firm. The employer has provided evidence to show that the woman's performance was lacking, but the woman has also provided evidence to show that she was sexually harassed on several occasions in the workplace. She wasn't fired until after she had complained about the inappropriate behavior.

Prior to being fired, the woman claims that an executive officer at the firm had made inappropriate comments about her appearance at work and that the executive officer had even asked her to have sex with him. The woman rejected the sexual advances and was fired after confronting the executive officer about the advances and inappropriate comments.

The woman's lawsuit was initially tossed out of court by an appeals court judge in 2010. The court had decided that the woman had been terminated for her poor performance. However, a federal appeals court ruled last week that the woman's case should go before a jury. A jury will now get to decide whether the woman's employer fired her to retaliate against her for complaining about sexual harassment in the workplace.

Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune, "NY court: NJ woman's harassment case to proceed," Larry Neumeister, April 26, 2013