How to Terminate Poor Performers – Without Provoking a Lawsuit

Access this video now and learn a legally sound, effective way of terminating underperforming employees who have overstayed their welcome. Discover:

  • The #1 managerial oversight that gives terminated employees the most traction in a lawsuit
  • How to avoid the pointless arguments that often occur in termination meetings
  • The most common mistake supervisors make when firing an employee
  • The main reason terminated employees sue
  • A blueprint for terminating employees correctly.

Why are we giving you access to this program for free? Because it’s the best way we know to introduce you to a new approach to employment law compliance training.

Here’s how it works: Request your training video on terminating poor performers now and we’ll email you a user name and password that gives you instant access to the Employment Law Compliance & Human Resources Rapid Learning Centers. There you’ll find your training video on terminating poor performers and a collection of other training resources for managers, supervisors and HR professionals. You’ll have unlimited trial access to this powerful library of e-learning modules, reports and fast-read articles.

More information for those who love the details …

Terminating Employees: The mistakes that undermine employers in court

Termination is one of the top reasons employees sue their employers. That makes sense, when people get fired they’re angry and they want to make their former employers pay for what the employee sees as a grave injustice.

The good news is that managers can greatly reduce the likelihood of termination related lawsuits by avoiding a few common mistakes.

Termination Mistake #1: Sugarcoating performance reviews

Far too often managers take the easy road when it comes to performance reviews. They’re reluctant to level with employees and say to them, “You’re not meeting performance expectations and your job is at risk.”

It doesn’t really matter why – perhaps the manager doesn’t like to criticize, or maybe he or she really believes it’s good for people to hear that they’re doing fine when in fact they’re failing.

But sugarcoating an employee’s performance reviews sets the stage for legal action if you eventually decide you must terminate the employee in question. Why? Because you’ve established in the employee’s mind that everything is okay – and you fired them without giving them a fair chance to improve their performance.

Termination Mistake #2: Failure to document poor performance

Lawyers will tell you, if it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen.

Telling employees that their job is at risk because they’re not meeting performance standards is a good start. But that’s only half of the job. Managers must document the details of that discussion – and require that the employee read and sign what was documented.

Skipping this step leads to “he-said-she-said” arguments in court – which employers seldom win.

The “Terminating Poor Performers” video gives you details on how to best document employee performance problems and how to avoid sugarcoating performance reviews.

Access this video now and find out how to avoid these common traps.

Termination Mistake #3: Failure to clearly communicate and document performance standards

Telling “at risk” employees that their job is on the line because “they’re not getting it done” isn’t enough. Managers need to be specific about what they expect. Which is better?

  1. “You’d better improve your performance soon or you’re going to be fired” or
  2. “You need to produce 25 more units each week by September 15th or you’re going to be fired.”

Clearly the specific performance improvement goal is more meaningful. Employees are less likely to sue if they see in specific terms exactly what was expected and where they fell short. Plus, courts are more likely to side with the employer when they see that the employee had a fair chance to save their job.

Termination Mistake #4: Raising tangential issues when firing

When firing employees, the less you say the better. Non-performance is a legitimate reason for termination. Stick to that theme. There’s no reason to bring up other issues such as tardiness, missed days or bad attitude if such problems are not directly related to the cause of termination.

By raising tangential issues, managers may unintentionally help the employee construct a narrative that they’ll take to their lawyer. If during the termination meeting you mention tardiness, for example, you set the stage for a courtroom conversation that might go something like this.

“During my client’s termination meeting you brought up the fact that he was late to work three times this year. My documents show that other employees were late as much or more than my client. Is it possible you singled my client out for termination because he’s over 50 and your company discriminates against older workers?”

The bottom line: When sub-par performance is driving your termination decision, focus on that message. Don’t bring up other issues that can lead to arguments and potential trouble in court.

Why employees sue for wrongful termination

Want to vastly reduce your legal exposure when terminating employees? Never forget that employees don’t sue companies because they’re right. They sue because they’re angry. And nothing makes a fired employee angrier than being surprised.

In order to avoid surprises, use a simple blueprint to map out the conversation when it comes time to terminate a poor performer. Your video will go into greater detail, but the five steps are:

  1. Provide a warning and describe what will happen if the employee fails to improve.
  2. Thoroughly communicate and document performance expectations and where the employee came up short — both before and after the warning.
  3. In the meeting where you terminate an employee, focus narrowly on performance. Raise no other issues.
  4. Avoid expressions of regret or other emotions – this isn’t personal.
  5. And finally, leave no doubt that your decision is final.

Follow these steps, and employees might not be happy about what just happened, but they certainly won’t be surprised. And they’ll be far less likely to take you to court for wrongful termination.

Access this video now as part of a trial to the Employment Law Compliance & Human Resources Rapid Learning Centers.


Steve Meyer
Stephen Meyer
CEO, Rapid Learning Institute


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