Terminating someone’s employment is often the most challenging part of a business owner or manager’s job. Despite this challenge, many feel that they did it the right way and for legitimate reasons. So, they can feel blindsided when a former employee files a wrongful termination claim.
What is wrongful termination?
Employers can terminate employees for nearly any reason, but it must have legal standing. For example, they cannot fire an employee because of the color of their skin, gender, age and other reasons protected by civil rights laws. Moreover, the owner cannot fire an employee in retaliation for something, such as if they reported the business for unsafe working conditions.
There are two sides to every story, so the owner or manager must keep records that accurately represent the former employee’s time with the company. Common examples include:
- Negative performance reviews
- Documentation (email, voicemail, etc.) of disputes with coworkers, management or customers
- Details regarding other examples of misconduct while working
- Documentation of hiring practices and other employee files
While it may seem unpleasant to keep these records, particularly at smaller companies where employees are more like a family unit, this documentation can help support the reasons for the termination.
Check with an employment law professional
Some employees are prone to arguments or engaging in disputes. The employer may wish to discuss a potential termination with an attorney who handles employment law issues. They can provide educated but neutral insight into the termination’s circumstances. They also can make recommendations for further protecting the business before moving forward with the termination. These precautions enable companies to make staffing decisions with confidence.