Not every worker is a good fit for your company. You may not realize until after you hire someone that their personality or skill-set isn’t really a match for what your company needs. It’s also possible that someone who has worked for your company for years can suddenly change their attitude or job performance, leaving your company scrambling to pick up the slack.
Terminating a worker who doesn’t meet your expectations is a reasonable decision, but it is one that could trigger some backlash. Specifically, the worker whom you let go might try to claim wrongful termination.
Not every firing is a wrongful termination
A wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires someone for illegal reasons. Firing someone because they asked for disability accommodations or reported harassment would be a wrongful termination. Firing someone for a bad attitude or mediocre work performance would not be.
How do businesses avoid allegations of wrongful termination when they decide to let a worker go?
They document the justification for their decision
If you summarily fire someone with no previous communication about your issues with them, the shock and surprise they feel may lead to anger. They might also assume that you fired them for inappropriate reasons.
Having a progressive discipline policy where you address performance issues or rule-breaking with your employees directly is helpful. Not only does it alert a worker to your concern about their job performance, but it also gives your company an opportunity to document the failings of that worker and your efforts to correct the problem.
They make sure they comply with the terms of their contract
Another reason that workers might bring a claim against the company is that the business tries to deny them severance pay or otherwise deviates from their employment contract. You can reduce the likelihood of complaints from former employees by upholding the terms of their contract or providing information in writing about why you have chosen not to do so.
Drafting solid employment contracts, deferring to them when making big decisions and documenting major employment issues can help your company avoid allegations of wrongful termination of its workers.