Magazine article Supervisory Management

You Can Prepare Employees for Termination

Magazine article Supervisory Management

You Can Prepare Employees for Termination

Article excerpt

You've decided, after several unsuccessful attempts to correct a performance problem, that you must terminate one of your employees. You call your lawyer, explain the reasons for your decision, then ask the big question: "Am I going to be sued?"

Don't be surprised when the lawyer tells you, "It depends." Even with proper reasons for termination, employers still have to contend with employees who pursue a variety of avenues to redress a perceived wrong.

Regardless of the size of your business, you'll eventually face the task of discharging an employee. How you prepare for that will determine whether it's a clean separation or a costly decision. Even when the termination doesn't result in a financial settlement, ex-employees can launch a great deal of psychological abuse against the unprepared employer.

The following guidelines can help prepare you for possible problems:

Be aware of legal prohibitions against terminations. Know the state and federal laws that might affect whether you can terminate an employee. Discrimination laws prohibit employers from making employment decisions on the basis of sex, age, race, religion, disability, marital status, pregnancy, and national origin, to name a few. Moreover, employees cannot be terminated for filing a discrimination charge against the company.

You can't terminate an employee who seeks to enforce his or her rights within the workplace. Terminating employees who demand you follow minimum wage and overtime laws, or who refuse to work in unsafe surroundings, is illegal. The rule of thumb is to follow the "sniff" test: If something about the termination just doesn't smell right, call your lawyer.

Establish policies and follow them. Regardless of the size of your company, there should be some sort of disciplinary standards and guidelines--and they should be enforced consistently. …

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