No one enjoys terminating an employee. It’s a difficult task, one that’s often awkward and touchy and simply unpleasant. But to protect client relationships and the company’s reputation, not to mention productivity and morale, the need to fire employees will arise.
So, what behaviors warrant termination? Or a better question may be, what reasons for firing an employee are considered legal and are unlikely to lead to an unfair termination suit?
Before you’re tempted to argue that it’s your business and termination decisions are yours to make, be advised that terminating an employee because of gender, race, religion, marital status, or age is illegal. And letting Joe or Mary go due to personal reasons that lack a valid “cause” will likely result in a wrongful termination lawsuit as well.
Now, back to those earlier questions. What behaviors warrant legal termination?
- Attendance issues including frequent unexcused absences or chronic tardiness
- Incompetence, lack of productivity, or poor quality of work
- Issues of dishonesty including falsifying company records or taking credit for someone else’s work
- Violating company policies from dating a co-worker to not adhering to social media directives
- Criminal behavior including theft or the sharing of confidential information as well as substance abuse issues
- Sexual harassment and other discriminatory behavior in the workplace
- Physical violence or threats against other employees
Each of these behaviors can severely impact the proper functioning of your business in multiple ways. Whether by their impact on profits and/or morale, or the risks they pose to other employees and customers, these behaviors warrant termination.
Consider these strategies for protecting yourself and the company when dealing with a termination scenario.
- Confront the employee in private
Make every effort to limit the number of people who witness the termination conversation. However, in some cases, including a rep from HR or the employee’s direct supervisor, is advisable.
- Be straightforward and concise
Strive to be clear, sharing pertinent details and documentations—performance reviews, written warnings—to ensure the reasons for termination are understood by the employee. Avoid a lengthy discussion that delves into other issues.
- Let employees know their options
Be prepared to share information about severance policies, health care options, etc., and direct him/her to the people that can help finalize these details.
- Consider options for the employee to collect their personal things
Depending on the employee’s state of mind and range of emotions, he/she may be able to quickly gather their possessions and exit the premises following the termination. But in many cases, it’s wise to arrange a time after business hours for this to take place. Not only does this allow time for the employee to deal privately with the news, but it can also prevent an awkward scene with co-workers.
Strive for professionalism throughout the entire process and extend that commitment through the post-firing period. Refrain from speaking ill about the terminated employee and do not allow other employees to do so either. Nothing further needs to be said aside from, “Bob is no longer with us.”
At Gillmann Services, Inc., we specialize in providing qualified skilled trades employees for the commercial, industrial, mining, manufacturing, and marine construction industries. companies. Both clients and employees can bank on our “We work for you” pledge. Contact us today.