We have discussed the importance of employers providing honest and accurate reasons when they fire employees, since lying about it gives Plaintiffs a foothold in claiming “pretext” or “excuse” for the alleged “real reason.”
Once an employer lies about one thing having to do with the termination, it suggests that they easily could have lied about other things.
However, the following significantly broadens the serious evidentiary impact when a party lies.
Although the law does not generally require truthfulness in employment discipline or termination, the threat of discrimination lawsuits should motivate employers to always act honestly when carrying out such acts.
In Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133 (2000), the Supreme Court stated that “the factfinder is entitled to consider a party's dishonesty about a material fact as affirmative evidence of guilt.” This proposition was re-affirmed in Cleveland v. Home Shopping Network, Inc., 369 F.3d 1189 (11th Cir. 2004), where the court noted that, “Dishonesty can be affirmative evidence of guilt.”
It is a well-established principle of law that a party’s lack of truthfulness is indicative of its liability. In Wilson v. U.S., 162 U.S. 613 (1896), the Supreme Court noted that, if false statements were made by a party, the jury has the right to presume the party’s dishonesty. That presumption, the Court noted, affects all of the other facts established and statements made by the party. Even to the point where the jury has the right to draw inferences regarding the party’s other conduct, and most significantly, whether the party is liable or not.
The attorneys at Luchansky Millman routinely perform employment law audits to ensure our clients’ discipline and termination policies are legally sound. If you are in need of an audit or are currently involved in litigation, contact our firm today.