How do you fire an employee (without getting sued)?

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2018 | Blog

How do you insulate your business from allegations of discrimination and still have the leeway you need to get rid of employees who aren’t working out?

The best thing that you can do is adopt a solid set of employment policies that go into place from the moment you take on a new hire:

Provide a written set of expectations

There’s a good reason that companies develop employee handbooks. They help employees figure out the expectations on their behavior regarding everything from what they wear to the office to what to do if they’re too sick to come to work. In addition to covering the basics for all employees, it helps to provide job-specific descriptions.

Not only does it communicate the needs of the company, it gives you some place to start when someone isn’t living up to expectations. It also insulates you from charges that you never communicated any policies or were arbitrary about them.

Keep good records

Always operate on the idea that, “if it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen.” Good documentation of every discussion you had with an employee over his or her job performance, whether formal or informal, goes a long way in court. If you’re asked to show when you first began to notice performance problems, you’ll have the information at your fingertips.

Use written warnings

Whether you decide to issue a warning about someone’s performance or offer a performance improvement plan, the important thing is that you put the problem in writing. This allows you to document exactly where the shortcomings in your employee’s performance are and when you informed him or her of the problem. It also allows you to document exactly what opportunity you gave your employee to correct his or her performance before moving to termination.

None of these steps will completely protect you from litigation if an employee is determined to blame prejudice for the firing — but they will help make it harder for a lawsuit to be successful. In most business law matters, consistency and good documentation are critical to overcoming allegations of bias or discrimination.

Source: Insperity, “6 Steps You Need to Take Before Terminating an Employee for Poor Performance,” Dawn Motsiff, accessed Feb. 07, 2018