Six skills to effectively avoid employee termination lawsuits

by on May 27, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Be consistent but make exceptions for performance with an employee termination

  1. Practice what you preach with an employee termination.
  2. Remember that you’re setting an example for all of the employees surrounding you, and that by terminating employees you’re sending a message to both the good employees and the bad ones still out there. Manage your mouth. Think about how outsiders will view what you say. For example, you go up to a female employee and tell her she looks very nice today. She thanks you. End of conversation. But now suppose you compliment her and she says “you’re creepy” and sues you. It’s not so much about what you say, it’s more about how you said it, and how the person you say it to interprets it. Before you do something, say something, or allow something to be done or said on your watch, think how people watching “60 Minutes” would react.

  3. Don’t get so hung up in the law with employee terminations
  4. Regardless what the law might say, sometimes you have to see both ends of it. Women shouldn’t have to tolerate being harassed at the workplace, but men shouldn’t either. That’s the right thing to do. Create a harassment-free work environment for everyone.

  5. Do “the right thing” with an employee termination
  6. The law steps in and gives the checks and balance to the system.
    As a supervisor or manager, employee termination, for those who aren’t living up to standards, is your obligation. The law doesn’t keep us from doing that. If we choose not to, we get what we deserve. If we wait until we’re so frustrated and had enough, then it’s risky.

  7. Manage your mouth. Send the right message.
  8. Employees are looking at us like little kids would. If you say you want them here, ready to work on time, they’re going to notice and take offense if you don’t do the same thing. No, they don’t know how much time you work after they leave, and they don’t need to. That’s not the point.

    The point is realizing what message you send through your behavior and through when and how you go about an employee termination. Be aware of how you behave when someone starts yelling and screaming. Instead of responding with more yelling and screaming, just go write him up and warn them if they ever do that again, they’re fired. This is real, real simple. That gives them a reasonable chance to save their job. So you have to watch your own behavior making sure you’re sending the right message

  9. Think like HR thinks about an employee termination without becoming HR.
  10. Think about how the documentation you have would hold up in court. Stay out of court. Be consistent and make exceptions based on performance, based on behavior. And when you’re terminating employees or thinking about it, think like “60 Minutes” thinks.

    And look at a situation and go, “Okay, what were they thinking with that?” and decide if you can make an exception. Given the situation, we’ve got a long term employee. This is what happened. This is what they went through, the odds that this will ever happen again. She was a great employee. Here’s the exception I’m going to make.

  11. Be I’m consistent. It’s easier to defend.
  12. That’s why you should be consistent and make exceptions. Documentation, take credit for the good work.

Edited remarks from the Rapid Learning Institute webinar: “Yes, You Can Fire Without Fear! What Every Supervisor Needs to Know” by Hunter Lott, Esq. on April 2, 2008

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