Whether it’s a termination, constructive discharge, layoff, or forced resignation, ending an employment relationship can be tricky and you should navigate carefully and make sure you are properly prepared.
Knowing when to terminate an employee is just as important as knowing how to terminate an employee. Even though most employment relationships are “at-will,” meaning you can terminate the employee at any time, what you say and do during the employment relationship can expressively impact how you handle employees before terminating them.
It’s important to remember that any discipline including termination must be applied consistently among all employees. For example, if you suspend employee A for misconduct but terminate employee B for engaging in the same misconduct, you may find yourself in a difficult position.
In addition to maintaining consistent termination practices, you should ensure that you keep a written record of all discipline. Even if the employee only receives a verbal warning, there should be some note in their personnel file.
Written records make it easier to show a jury or judge how you advised employees that their conduct was unacceptable and gave them another chance. It’s difficult to later argue that you based your termination on the employee’s conduct when there’s no record that you ever disciplined the employee for the issue.
You should look at every termination decision you make from all angles and determine whether it could be misconstrued to support an employee’s claim.
If you have a potential hostile termination and are concerned with a wrongful termination claim, call us or your HR professional to discuss.
This article was written by Lauren Sims, an eqHR Solutions senior consultant.