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Despite "Incredibly Suspicious" Timing, Retaliation Claim Fails

A surgical technologist at a hospital was having performance problems. The technologist's supervisor contacted her by phone following a complaint from a physician that the technologist had failed to perform a number of critical tasks that ultimately delayed a surgery. During the call, the technologist became angry and insubordinate. Following that call, the supervisor contacted human resources to discuss terminating the technologist, and then communicated his decision to others, but not to the technician. The following day, the technologist contacted human resources to complain of racial harassment and discrimination. Forty-five minutes later, the supervisor contacted the technologist via phone and informed her of her termination. While the court found the timing "incredibly suspicious," it ultimately ruled that the evidence that the decision had been made prior to the technologist's complaint precluded a finding that her complaint was the "but for" basis for her termination. This case demonstrates the importance of carefully documenting the termination decision-making process.

For more information read Wright v. St. Vincent Health System, No. 12-3162 (8th Cir. Sep. 18, 2013).

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