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2 ways to reduce the chance of problems when firing someone

Dec 5, 2022 | Employment litigation

An employee who is upset that you are firing them may seek to take legal action against you. Even if they do not get far, the stress of the situation and the effect it can have on other employees are best avoided.

If you need to let someone go, you must understand all relevant state and federal laws. If you are unsure, get the help of someone who understands them. Accidentally infringing even one of those laws is too big a risk to take. Here are some other things you can do before breaking the news to the employee in question:

1. Document everything

If you can show why you are firing someone, it will be much easier to dispute any claims they might make that you are doing so for the wrong reasons.

Some employees may claim you are getting rid of them because of their age, race, religion or sexual preferences. Others might claim it is because of a report or complaint they filed about the company or about someone within. Others still may claim it is because they refused the sexual advances of you or another member of the managerial team.

Whether they really suspect those things or are just accusing you of them to get revenge, it is crucial that you have evidence of prior warnings and disciplinary actions or poor performance reports to back up your legitimate case for firing them.

2. Follow your procedures

If your employee handbook states that employees get three warnings, make sure you stick to that. Don’t be tempted to make an exception and fire them after only two warnings. That handbook could (and likely does) create a contract between you and your employees, so you need to follow the rules you created.

If you face a wrongful termination claim, seek legal help to prepare your defenses.