You might feel like it is time for an employee to go, but you may also feel like termination is too much of a risk because their already volatile behavior indicates a lawsuit. You will want to consult with a law firm if you have to terminate an employee. A lawyer, like Larson, Latham, Huettl Attorneys, can walk you through the process of shielding yourself from litigation. Here are some things you can do to protect yourself before you hire new employees and during their employment:
Hire Your Employee for a Probationary Period
When you are hiring a new employee, consider hiring the employee temporarily or instituting a probationary period to make sure that they can be terminated if you determine that he or she will not work out. This is helpful because it can be hard to tell how your employee works with others without giving him or her a test run.
Lay the Groundwork for Termination
As you are working with an employee, even before you consider firing him or her, you will need to lay the groundwork for termination in the company policy. Go over these policies bi-annually or quarterly with other important issues, like anti-harassment policies. Many businesses think they can simply cope with certain behaviors, but eventually decide they are fed up and then try to quickly terminate their employees.
Get Rid of Ambiguity
The less ambiguity you have of your employee's job description, the more easily you are then able to claim that your employee did not meet your expectations, necessitating a termination.
Whenever your employee performs an action that you believe would justify termination, document the action. Written warnings provide a paper trail. Also, any data that can be quantified, such as the number of times late for work, can help justify termination.
Take well-documented steps to solve the problems you have with the employee. Create a performance evaluation, and then have the employee sign to document to prove that he or she was aware of the evaluation. If you take any other steps to solve the problem with the employee, such as sitting down and having a conversation, document that this conversation took place.
Consider Protected Groups
Ask yourself if there is any way your decision to terminate the employee might be viewed suspiciously. For instance, if your employee has recently informed the EPA about a violation, you will want to have a discussion with a law firm about whether you will be able to legally fire your employee. You also cannot fire an employee over matters of public policy, such as if your employee hasn't paid taxes.
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