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Best Practices To Avoid Wrongful Termination Actions

By August 8, 2012February 19th, 2015No Comments

iStock_000011384025XSmallTerminating an employee is one of the least favorite things most managers or human relations professionals must do.  To avoid wrongful termination suits, there are some best practices to follow when firing someone.

  1. Develop a procedure.  Having a procedure takes the emotion out of what can be a difficult situation.  It also helps to assure that you cover any potential legal issues that could arise.
  2. Have procedure reviewed by attorney or human resources consultant.  Your counsel should advise whether your procedure meets all state or federal regulations.
  3. Offer warnings that termination will occur.  If the employee is not meeting the expectations of the position, be clear and communicate what actions may be taken.  Create a track record of documentation that can help prove the situation if it’s questioned.
  4. Have a written procedure manual.   This should be one of the procedures in the manual, and the manual should cover other eventualities that could potentially be fireable offenses.  Activities like showing up late, missing deadlines, poor attitude, abuse of company equipment are just a few of the procedures and best practices for human resources.
  5. Avoid confrontation by having a plan.  Know when you will handle the termination and be prepared with what you want to say.  Be quick and be clean with the discussion.  This is not a time to rehash, but to sever the relationship.
  6. Have the final check ready.  Also have a checklist of any company property that must be returned as well as any passwords that you will need to change.  Also, have a list of any keys or fobs that the terminated employee may have in possession.
  7. Be clear about the reason for termination.  If you’ve documented the issues leading up to the termination and have issued a warning, there should be no mixed messages about why the termination is taking place.

Remember that your goal is to avoid wrongful termination actions and the best way to do this is by developing a procedure that will protect you and your company.   By following the procedure, you minimize risk of litigation and develop proper defenses if suit is filed.

Sometimes it’s helpful to have a third party, or outsource human resource company handle the termination. Even having a third party sit in the room to be a witness may be a good idea for a contentious situation.

What are you biggest concerns with terminating an employee?  Do you have a written and documented termination procedure in place?

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