By: Krishnakala Busani
Terminating an employee is never easy. Though most states have “at-will” employment laws, whereby employers can terminate employees at any time for any non-discriminatory reason, employers still face the risk of unlawful termination lawsuits. To minimize this risk, it is important for employers to carefully establish a termination procedure.
Establishing Fair Termination Policies
Employers must first establish reasonable employment policies for things like performance appraisals and internal investigations, and they must familiarize all employees with them. If an employer has an employee handbook listing these policies, then all employees should review such handbooks by during their orientations.
Further, during employment, performance reviews should be accurate and stored in the employee’s personnel file. The file should also contain all disciplinary notices.
Documenting the Reasons for Employee Termination
When an employer chooses to terminate any employee, the reasons for the termination should be carefully documented.
For example, if an employee is being let go for non-performance, the documentation should contain evidence on:
- Each deficient performance area
- The adverse effect on the employer’s overall performance
- Any warnings or suggestions for improvement given to the employee
- Any related communication to the employee
If an employer does not have detailed records, it is recommended that they delay the termination until such documentation is available.
Deciding on and Finalizing an Employee’s Termination
Employers should also consider if an employee has any reasonable excuse for non-performance and whether there are alternatives to termination. The employer should always meet with the employee and hear their reasons for poor performance prior to making any decision.
Finally, if an employer decides to terminate their employee, the employer must ensure that all exit formalities, such as payment of final wages, are properly followed.
Terminating an employee can be stressful but may be necessary. Chugh, LLP’s experienced team can audit your employment practices to ensure you comply with all applicable state and federal laws.