Exceptions in an employee termination

by on May 26, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Leaders can make exceptions in an employee termination when it’s based on performance

You may make an exception in an employee termination. Yes, you can do that. Yes, you can be consistent AND make exceptions. But make sure you’re making exceptions for good people. Make exceptions based on performance. Don’t base your exceptions on the list: age, sex, race, etc. or make exceptions for your worst employees.

You need to think like outsiders think with an employee termination. If you want to understand how EEOC, an attorney or HR looks at these crazy situations, think about “CNN”. If you wouldn’t do it or say it on “CNN”, then don’t do it, say it, or allow it to be done or said in your operation. “CNN” isn’t always right, but they’re everywhere. This gives you an idea again.

View the employee termination like an outsider
You want to consider how an outsider would look at you. Suppose your company has a dress code that bans the wearing of hats at work. One of your male employee, who is Jewish, comes in to work with a yarmulke. The policy says no hats. But this is a religious observance. Think “CNN” Can you make an exception? Yes, you can make an exception, based on how you manage your operation. Ask yourself, “Was the policy set in place to go after religious observances?” No. Ask yourself, “Is this reasonable?” Yes. If you do that, the outsider will view it as a reasonable accommodation to avoid undue hardship.

If you go to HR and say you want to start an employee termination, they’re going to ask you why. They’ll ask how long she’s been around, and if she’s been doing a good job. Lastly, they’ll pull the documentation to see if she’s been given a reasonable chance to save her job. It will most likely be very frustrating, because you’re not going to want to go through all that.

The burden of proof is on the company
But this is how the outsider is going to look at the employee termination. This is how “CNN” is going to look at it. The burden of proof is on you. It’s up to you to prove to them that you didn’t discriminate, prove you did communicate. So “CNN” is a great way of thinking back at work. Given a situation, before you do or say something, think about how would the outsider, suspicious of your motives with an employee termination would look at you.

Managers often look at this and go crazy. They just want a straight answer; yes or no. But, it doesn’t work that way. This is not how people manage anymore. you can’t do it that way. Because there is an exception to everything. Now, when the exception becomes the rule, then you got to take a hard look at it. But this is why HR constantly says: “It depends. It depends.” It’s annoying when they do that, but they’re right. Most HR people live in the gray area, and it tends to drive managers crazy.

These are the edited remarks from the Rapid Learning Institute webinar:
“Yes, You Can Fire Without Fear! What Every Supervisor Needs to Know” hosted by Hunter Lott, Esq. on 2-22-07

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