Published on July 10th, 2019
Hiring employees is easy, but firing them is a completely different matter. Terminating employees is a delicate process that needs to be handled gracefully and with care. Otherwise, you may wind up with a wrongful termination claim on your hands.
Here’s how businesses can help protect themselves from wrongful termination claims.
1. Follow The Law
Know the law, and follow the law. Make sure that you document everything. You may claim to do be doing everything by the book, but do you have evidence to back up that claim?
Keep your books in order, and follow government guidelines.
2. Give Advanced Warning
Whenever possible, give employees advanced notice if they are being terminated. Giving a couple of weeks of notice will allow the employee to start a job search. If the employee is able to secure a new job, there’s a much lower chance of a claim being filed against you.
3. Define Work Expectations
Employees should know what’s expected of them. Clear expectations mean that employees aren’t surprised by a termination.
Again, make sure that you have documentation. Whether your business is small or large, keeping records of the situation will go a long way in helping you avoid litigation. It also ensures that the appropriate procedures are followed.
It’s important to have a system in place that identifies performance objectives and advises employees on whether or not they meet the criteria.
4. Be Thoughtful When Terminating Employees
Tensions may be high when terminating employees, but it’s important not to let emotions cloud your judgment. Even if the employee understands that termination is imminent, the actual firing may come as a surprise.
Be thoughtful when terminating employees. Use compassion and empathy. Offering severance or short-term assistance to the employee can also go a long way in preventing a wrongful termination claim. If you offer severance or assistance, have the employee sign a release or waiver.
5. Have An Employee Handbook
An employee handbook with human resources policies and guidelines can serve as a defense if a terminated employee should try to file a claim. Policies should be clearly written, and employees should be given these handbooks when they start working. Employees should also sign a document acknowledging that they received and accepted the manual.
There’s no foolproof way to prevent a wrongful termination claim, but following laws and procedures – and having documentation to support those procedures – can provide a solid defense for your business.