Firing one of your employees is never fun, and most managers and business owners go the extra mile before they come to the decision to fire. However, when it all comes down to it, you will have to let the employee go. After all the agony, the last thing you want to deal with is going to court.
Firing is perfectly legal, but that does not mean that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or a lawyer will not take up the case. This is likely to lead your business spending a fortune to defend your decision. Here are four tips on how you can reduce chances of ending up in court.
#1 Understand the Laws
Before you dismiss an employee, it is critical that you familiarize yourself with the laws that may protect an individual employee. Such laws include those stated under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, and many others. If you are firing someone in retaliation to actions they took in the past, you can be sued for wrongful termination.
To get a grip on your law education, consider maintaining a company lawyer who is familiar with the territory. For instance, just like you would hire criminal lawyers Albany NY based experts to represent you when you get into trouble with the law, you can hire a local firm that is familiar with the laws on company and employee rights.
#2 Involve the HR Department
A severance package will go a long way in reducing the employee’s potential anger. During the dismissal meeting, have the HR department send someone to sit in and prepare the necessary paperwork. This gives the employee the chance to shift focus to the logistics rather than on getting fired.
If your small business does not have a HR department, have the office manager sit in so that the process can be effective. While severance is not a legal requirement (except in a few situations), a three-month pay in exchange for signing the general release document drastically reduces chances of you landing in court.
#3 Do NOT Oppose Unemployment
Many organizations go the extra length to fight unemployment claims. In your case, do not fight unemployment although an approved claim will increase your costs. There is something more expensive than the unemployment claim – a lawsuit.
Angry people are the ones who sue, and they sue because you have taken away a source of income but you fight their chance of them getting some money to help an employee stay afloat as they look for another job. People do not sue because they are wronged; they sue because they feel they have been wronged.
#4 Keep Documents of Everything
Most often, an employee starts exhibiting signs of a potential problem way before an employer is prepared to fire him or her. If such behaviors are noticed, make a note of the dates, actions and times relevant to the employee’s eventual dismissal from the workplace. This means issuing written warnings and formal regular performance reviews that are to be signed and dated by the employee, giving you proof that you offered the offending employee every chance to change their behaviors.
Remember, the main objective of firing someone is so that they go away quietly. By preparing early, you can ease the transition and get back to work as soon as possible. In many cases, you will never hear from the dismissed employee, but if they choose to take legal action, a well-prepared business owner or manager will have nothing to worry about if they follow the four tips above.