Human Resources:

Firing an Employee

If you are an employer who doesn’t want to get hit with a wrongful termination lawsuit, you have to be careful about a few things when it comes to firing an employee. It’s already hard on everyone when someone gets fired in the company. It creates insecurities for everyone. For this reason especially, it’s very important that you handle the situation right. There should be a solid reason for laying someone off. Reasons should be directly related to the person’s job performance, not something personal. Company policy shouldn’t be something that just exists on paper. You need to implement it. Above all else, the most important policy should be the equal treatment of all employees. You shouldn’t make them feel at any time that you are giving someone else the benefit of the doubt while handing another all the blame. This is something that might stick in the employee’s mind when he gets fired and might bring you a lawsuit. Following are some other situations where you should be careful before firing someone:

  • An employee had a verbal confrontation with you about something related to work or possibly even of a personal nature. Both of you got loud and then went your separate ways. If this happened in the workplace and a few days later the employee is told he is being laid off, the first thing that is going to come to his mind is that loud conversation you had. This might be grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit. Be very careful about the timing of laying someone off. If it coincides with any kind of event that has taken place in the last few days, that might make it personal.
  • An employee constantly makes his opinions about the quality of the workplace being unsatisfactory known to anyone with two ears. He compares it to other companies and how they are always up there in health and safety standards while your company keeps deteriorating. You might love to fire this person but the fact is that if he is fired then you may be looking at a lawsuit.
  • Don’t try laying off a lot of people at the same time with the same physical and racial characteristics. For example, you lay off 10 Hispanic 40-year-old males while downsizing a department. The department had 27 employees. The 17 that are left are all white and are between the ages of 34 and 41. The obvious conclusion that anyone can draw is that you are discriminating while laying people off.
  • There are state and federal laws that protect a 40-year-old from being fired for age discrimination. This simply means that is you want a 25-year-old Harvard grad to join the company and the spot he wants is filled by a 45-year-old and a week later if you fire the 45-year-old, you may be looking at a lawsuit.
  • Remember to review all employment contracts signed by the employee that you are firing. Things like if they are fired within two years then the company owes them a certain amount of money or they must be given three warnings on paper before you can fire them.

Always try to be as fair as possible to every employee in your company. Maintain an environment of support and professionalism that will help the employees in improving their work ethics and giving you better results.