Avoiding Wrongful Termination

Wrongful termination is defined as the action of firing an employee without a proven and legitimate cause.  Some cases of wrongful termination include firing an employee based on his or her race, gender, religious beliefs, etc.  It’s true that even in cases of legitimate and proven termination; employees may file wrongful termination lawsuits.  Here is an employer’s guide on how to avoid wrongful termination suits.

Become Familiar with Your State’s Termination Laws and Statutes

Each state is different when it comes to termination and wrongful termination laws.  It’s important to become familiar with those laws as well as past wrongful termination lawsuits. 

This knowledge will help employers create policies that are consistent and legal.  Studying laws for the purpose of creating termination policies will help keep businesses above board and in line with the majority opinion.  By learning from past wrongful termination cases, employers can gain a finer understanding of what is typically accepted and what is not.

If you may be facing a wrongful termination suit, or want to avoid one, consult with an employment lawyer in your area to discuss your case.

Document Any and All Disciplinary Actions Taken

Before termination, most employers dole out disciplinary actions against employees.  Depending upon company policy, your company may give employees 3 warnings or follow other procedures before the employee is terminated.  It’s extremely important to document any of these disciplinary actions as soon as they take place. 

Also, have your employee sign a copy or statement of each and every disciplinary action right away.  This helps protect your company from a wrongful termination suit because it proves that other disciplinary action was taken in an attempt to remedy the situation BEFORE the employee was terminated.

Together with Your HR Department, Give the Case a Final Review before Termination

If termination seems like the next course of action, gather all case files and review them with the HR or hiring department.  Consider other options which may remedy the situation and keep your company from being involved in a wrongful termination suit.  Compare the employee’s file and the events which have earned disciplinary action with your state laws and statutes to determine whether termination is legal and an appropriate action at this point.

Consult with an Attorney

If you feel as though an employee about to be terminated may file for wrongful termination, consult with an attorney before making any decisions.  Attorneys who deal with suits and cases on a daily basis should be able to determine whether the employee has a valid case for wrongful termination or not.  It is important to provide your attorney with all important documents regarding the employee and the reason termination is desired.  This may include:

  • Video tapes or proof of employee misconduct or behavior resulting in disciplinary actions.
  • Documents regarding disciplinary action, including those signed by the employee. 
  • Accounts from other employees or witnesses which were present when misconduct took place.
If you may be facing a wrongful termination suit, or want to avoid one, consult with an employment lawyer in your area to discuss your case.

From this information, and with the current knowledge the attorney has of the legal system and termination laws and statutes in your state – your attorney should be able to advise you on the next course of action.  Whether this is to continue with the termination process or find some other course of disciplinary action is dependant upon the case and the educated conclusion your attorney comes to.

 

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