Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Friday, November 01, 2002

Hooray! Threatening HR a Terminable Offense


Ms. Romero chose to take an early retirement package with enhanced benefits if she remained employed through the fourth quarter. She asked that her last day of work be the last day of the year. Instead, the company scheduled it to be October 3rd, but still within the fourth quarter, thus preserving her benefits.

Seeming not to understand, Ms. Romero told an HR employee that she would not be attending a company dinner where the HR Director would be present because she didn't know what her husband would do when he saw "that man". She also added that she "hoped someday somebody puts a bullet in that man", although she said it wouldn't be her because she "wouldn't go to jail for that man". When the fellow employee asked her if she meant it, she replied affirmatively. Having thought about, she left a voice mail saying she didn't want the employee to think if anything happened to the HR Director that she had anything to do with it. But she did re-iterat that if some one else did something she would "shed no tears and be happy". In other words she said, "her hands are clean [although] her mind isn't."

The fellow employee was, understandably, upset, not to mention the Director of HR. Ms. Romero summoned to a disciplinary meeting refused to talk without her lawyer and soon found herself an ex-employee, without the benefits of the enhanced severance package. Her ensuing litigation was unsuccessful. HR folks often feel they are an endangered species, but it's nice to know at least someone cares! Romero v. Smithkline Beacham [pdf] (3rd Cir. 10/30/02).


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