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Termination Dos and Donts

Terminating an employee is a difficult decision for most people to make. Before terminating an employee, carefully consider the reasons, and then ask the following questions: Has somebody else done something similar in the past and not been terminated? Can I be honest with the employee about the reasons while at the same time being diplomatic enough to make the employee understand why s/he needs to be let go? Is this an employee who has worked here for a long period of time? Is this an employee who is likely to sue?

You can substantially minimize your risk of wrongful termination litigation by ensuring that your employees are treated fairly in the termination process. The mistakes most often made by employers in the termination process are:

  1. Providing the employee with a reason for the termination that later proves to be false;
  2. Terminating the employee for poor performance or misconduct when other employees have not been terminated in similar circumstances;
  3. Terminating the employee for a reason that is trivial or unrelated to the needs or goals of the business;
  4. Terminating the employee in violation of company termination or discipline policies; and
  5. Terminating the employee in violation of a state or federal statute, such as the anti-discrimination laws.

When terminating an employee, you should never yell or make threats. Never get into an argument with the employee. Just explain your reason and be honest. The termination itself should take place in an office where nobody else can hear what is happening. It is advisable to have a second, neutral person present at the termination meeting to support you in your decision and to act as a witness regarding what was said and done. Following this advice can significantly reduce your risk of being sued later on. For additional advice, please contact us.