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Can a Supervisor Be Fired For Refusing to Find Reasons to Fire an Employee?

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First, in choosing to not find reasons to fire the employee, you made the right choice.  Playing a role in firing an employee for a characteristic of the employee that is legally protected e.g. (race, religion, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, etc.), or for a legally protected action taken by the employee (e.g. workplace organizing, whistleblowing, or leave-taking) could expose you, personally, to legal liability and a lawsuit.  In addition to being the right thing to do, not participating in your employer’s effort to manufacture a pretext for an employee’s termination was the smart thing to do, from a legal standpoint, particularly because of point number two below.

You Do Have Rights

Second, you do have rights. Statutes that protect employees from workplace abuses similarly protect their supervisors who take steps to oppose those abuses.  Additionally, New Hampshire common law may provide a right of civil action against any employer that, in bad faith, terminates a supervisor because he or she acted in the interest of a “public policy” (i.e. laws that protect workers) or refused to act in a way that would be contrary to a “public policy.”

Even statutes which, on the surface, do not appear to protect supervisors but only supervisees from illegitimate termination have been interpreted by some courts to cover supervisors when they act in a manner consistent with the supervisee protection goals of the statute.  See Lewis v. Whirlpool Corporation, 6th Cir., No. 09-4231, Jan. 12, 2011 (Court interpreted the National Labor Relations Act to cover a supervisor who refused to create false reasons to fire his union-organizing supervisee, even where “supervisors” are expressly excluded from protection under the statute).

If you have been disciplined or terminated because you refused to unfairly discipline or terminate another worker, and you have questions about your rights, call our office at (603) 288-1403 for a free consultation or fill out our online contact form.