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March 16, 2015

Why Honesty is the Best Policy with Termination

Filed under: Discipline & Termination3:43 am

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by Emily Sternberg, HR Consultant

Most employers have a traditional at-will employment policy that states either the employee or the employer can terminate employment with or without cause at any time with or without notice. This is a great policy … until the moment of execution when the manager wants to terminate an employee with little or no documentation. Conducting a termination by invoking the at-will policy may find your company at the wrong end of a discrimination lawsuit.

Employers who choose to hide behind a reduction in force or position elimination may also be at risk.  This strategy may be effective, unless the position is not eliminated and the “downsized” employee finds an advertisement for her eliminated position posted online two weeks later and sues the employer for discrimination or wrongful termination.

So, what strategies can an employer put in place to reduce the risk of being sued by a disgruntled former employee? Honesty is always the best policy and, in most cases, the reasons for termination should not be a surprise to the employee.

Following are a few steps to help reduce the risk of being accused of unfair employment practices:

  • Clearly communicate to the employee the specific performance issue
  • Establish goals for improvement
  • Identify a timeline for improvement
  • Follow-up and follow through with employee to ensure they understand the importance of improvement
  • Document all follow-up and action steps
  • Terminate employee if objectives are not met

Of course, there may be circumstances that require immediate termination. In these circumstances, best practices still dictate that the reasons for termination be communicated clearly to the employee.

Whether your organization needs help with performance management or any other HR related area, please contact HR Performance Solutions today.

 

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