Deciding whether to fire a worker is one of the most difficult choices business owners have to make. But as Daniel Taylor explains on FindLaw’s Free Enterprise, once the decision is made, there is a right and wrong way to go about doing it. While there is no guarantee how an employee will react, he says it is possible to decrease the odds that the worker will file a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Taylor says that while an at-will employee can usually be terminated for any reason, providing a clear explanation will help prevent that person from using his or her imagination to come up with one that could be grounds for a suit.
In addition, he says it’s important to be able to back up your reasons with a paper trail that includes performance reviews, work logs and customer/coworker allegations.
Be especially careful about firing workers who have filed complaints, advises Taylor. Terminating someone who recently complained about alleged misconduct at the company could be seen as retaliation against a whistleblower.
Finally, Taylor says every company should have an employee handbook that lays out the rules and expectations regarding worker conduct. He says these guidelines must be followed and enforced to the letter if they are to carry any weight in the defense of a lawsuit.