5 Termination Mistakes Employers Could Easily Avoid0Posted on: 12-19-2011 by: workplaceweekly
While employers can take advantage of employment at will, discharging an employee sometimes comes with a price. Giving the current enlighten work environment and the easy with which information is shared, coupled with the enforcement power of regulatory agencies. Employers can easily avoid liability by taking warning from the following common mistakes before discharging an employee.
Discharging an employee with no specific act of misconduct connected with the work
The mistake usually happens when the employer, suddenly, fires the employee without considering whether the employee has received the number of warnings that the policy manual says that employees can expect or whether the employer will be able to prove the misconduct in question. A discharged employee can always file discrimination suit, and unemployment claim, and the burden of proof will now rest on the employer in other not to be liable.
Refusing to discuss problem with the employee before termination
In the face of a lawsuit or claim, there is always the possibility that the employee will point out something that will make the employer realize that discharge might not be appropriate. Hence, it will be a mistake to fire someone without discussing the problem leading to termination and without giving the employee a chance to explain his or her side of the story.
Firing an employee without reasonable warning
The onus of proof will always rest on the employer to show that either the employee did something that was so bad, he had to have known he would be fired without prior warning, or that the employee had somehow been placed on prior notice that he could lose his job for such a reason. “Prior notice” would come from a policy expressly warning of discharge or from a written warning to the effect that a certain action or lack of action would result in dismissal.
Ignoring company termination policy
In face of discrimination suit, unemployment insurance claim, an employer must show that the employee either know or should have known that his/her job was on the line for the reason in question. That will be impossible to show, if the employer fires the employee without giving the employee the benefit of progressive disciplinary process the company usually follows. The point is that the employer should try its best to do what it says it will do. If employees have been led to believe that certain steps will occur prior to termination, follow those steps, to avoid liability.
Take no action when an employee complain
While not all complains are valid, nothing stirs the compassion of enforcing agencies when they hear a legitimate grievance, whose employer either took no effective action to address the grievance rather retaliated against the employee. Complaints usually do not come out of the air. Employers should Listen, investigate, act, and document their actions. Employers that are responsive to employee concerns are confident in the face of lawsuit, and also generally have fewer worries about employee turnover and unions coming in. See OSHA versus Whole Foods Market case in this link as an example.