But he deserves to be fired…

by on April 25, 2012 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Cafe

Adam has always been a temperamental, bristly employee, but today he’s gone too far. He’s just told you to your face that you’re a son-of-a-b****. With your temper rising and the blood pounding in your head, you tell him he’s fired for insubordination.

When you cool down, you reflect that, yes, maybe, you lost control of your emotions a little bit, but who wouldn’t? And you had justification to fire Adam, because your organization’s policy specifically identifies insubordination as grounds for termination.

So you’re OK, right?

Well, maybe. But it’s also very possible that you’ve put your employer at risk. That’s because you’ve done one thing you should never, never, never do.

The ‘one thing’
What is that “one thing”?

Never fire an employee when you’re angry. It sounds simple if you think about it, but when you’re steamed, you may NOT think about it. If you do fire someone when you’re angry, you may be giving the person grounds for a lawsuit.

How? Well, maybe what the person did hasn’t been a firing offense in the past, and might not have been in this case, except that it made you mad. And if the person is in a protected class, they can argue that you imposed overly strict discipline on them BECAUSE of their race, or sex, or age, or whatever.

And whether the person has a viable discrimination case or not, they’re far more likely to go to court when they’re fired abruptly — because your anger makes them mad in turn.

Wielding the ax
Of course, there may still be cases where you have to wield the ax immediately — when somebody threatens or commits violence, intentionally damages company property or creates a serious safety hazard, for example. But in many if not most instances, termination for a firing offense doesn’t have to be done on the spot.

So instead of acting on the spur of the moment, walk away and calm down. Then document the incident and, if necessary, consult with HR or higher management about the termination you think is warranted. You’ll make better decisions this way — decisions that will stand up if challenged in court.

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