Philadelphia Employment Law News

Reasons Why Joe Paterno Was Fired -- Clarified Again

Joe Paterno was Penn State football and his termination did not sit well with many of the university’s alumni. The man had given almost all of his life to Penn State, and his termination over the telephone during the height of the Jerry Sandusky scandal was viewed as insulting to the legend. The fact that Paterno died just a few months after being fired only made the criticism that much stronger.

So the Penn State trustees decided to face their critics and clarify again the reasons why Joe Paterno fired.

In a statement, the trustees underscored their original reason for terminating Paterno as "failure of leadership" for his actions following the alleged sex assault by Jerry Sandusky, reports The Associated Press. In clarifying its decision, the trustees said that while Paterno fulfilled a minimum legal obligation to tell his superiors of the claimed assault, he also could have done more like following up with the investigation.

Generally, employers don't need to give any reason as to why they are firing an employee (let alone a reason and a clarification), but Paterno was no ordinary employee and the alumni base that provides money to the university was unhappy with how Paterno went out.

The lesson for employers is that even if you meet the legal requirements for terminating an employee, or go beyond the legal requirements, your decision can still cost you dearly. In the case of Joe Paterno, the university may lose money from its alumni. In other companies, employee morale may go down and productivity may decrease if you handle a termination without tact.

The reasons why Joe Paterno fired were given again. But no amount of explanations will likely appease Nittany Lions fans who watched their late, legendary coach unceremoniously let go.

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