Human Resource Blog

Where HR Professionals Seek Answers

A Practical Source For Your Daily HR Needs.Lets Build An HR Blog Community Together! Want To Share Your HR Knowledge Or Gain Knowledge Through Other Professionals?Lets Discuss HR!


New Jersey Hearsay Evidence

Can an employer in New Jersey discipline or terminate an employee based on hearsay, or must there be proof?

If the company is not using hearsay to discriminate, then a supervisor is  probably on solid ground. But applying such a policy to single out any worker based on her or his race, color, sex, age, disability, national origin or religion would be against the law.

A careful employer would also avoid accusing a worker of a crime, like theft, without some corroborating evidence beyond another worker’s word. It would help, for example, to catch the thief on video stealing from the register. Other possibilities would be admission of guilt or failure to pass a lie detector test. With another worker’s word as the sole source of information, the employer would be wise to terminate the accused employee for “unexplained shortages” from his or her cash register.

Otherwise, employers don’t have to nab a worker red-handed in order to put a disciplinary warning into motion. New Jersey courts do not allow hearsay as evidence, but the workplace is not a courtroom, and an employer is not bound by the same rules attorneys are.

The dangers of unsubstantiated rumor or gossip should be weighed in “hearsay” situations. A good employer must keep in mind that if three employees have a grudge against a fourth, they may make false accusations. Employee handbooks often have rules prohibiting behavior like this to avoid the damage that gossip and maliciously unfounded stories can create.

A few examples will make the role of hearsay in the disciplinary process a little clearer.

Consider an obvious example first. If a worker came to an employer claiming to have overheard another worker threatening to blow up the building or kill her boss, the employer would clearly want to take the report seriously.

Now assume that a female worker charges that a male coworker made inappropriate advances to her. An employer would be foolish not to investigate a serious threat like this. If other workers say they had overheard the advances, their word could technically be labeled “hearsay.” But ignoring their claims would be a mistake. A judicious employer would take action against the male employee based on the cumulative “hearsay.” JH

This entry was posted on Friday, November 16th, 2007 at 10:04 pm and is filed under
Human Resources Management, Labor Laws.
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “New Jersey Hearsay Evidence”

  1. elizabeth Says:

    If you are the victim of gossip to the extent of ruining friendship or marriage, does that mean you can seek an legal avenue for a lawsuit?

  2. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Elizabeth!

    Yes, but that is outside our area, which is employment law. Under the U.S. defamation laws (including libel and slander)an employee can sue the person spreading gossip. Be aware that in most cases, if the information is true, that is a legal defense for defamation.

    Check our archives — we’ve answered several questions on defamation in the past week or so.

    I will also note that a true friend or a trusting spouse would not be swayed by false rumors. You can also post questions on our sister site at HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

Leave a Reply

  • [ Back ]
  • WP-SpamFree by Pole Position Marketing

Home Ask a Question Archives

© 2008, All Rights Reserved