A wrongful termination lawsuit is one of the lengthiest and most expensive processes a business can face. Every company will eventually have to terminate an employee. However, there are people in this world who are always looking for someone to sue. Regardless of whether the situation involves downsizing or performance
1.) Obey the Law
The most important thing to remember is to always do things by the book. Even if you’ve done everything right, you’ll still be expected to prove it. Obey all government guidelines, including those that involve posting signs relating to safety and labor laws. While things like these might seem trivial, they can come back to haunt you in a lawsuit.
2.) Define Expectations
In most cases, the employee should not be surprised when they’re getting terminated. Unless the situation involves a layoff, theft, or some very serious mistake on the employee’s part, they should have some idea that their job is on the line. Your expectations for them should be understood ahead of time and emphasized regularly. Keeping records of any disciplinary action ensures that proper procedures are being followed and may even help you avoid litigation.
3.) Create an Employee Handbook
One of the most important tools in your arsenal is an employee handbook. While not all companies will take the time to create one, it’s much easier to prove your policies and guidelines when they’re in writing. All employees should be issued a handbook when they’re first hired and there should be some signed record showing they accepted it. It’s a good idea to consult someone with experience in human resources when creating your company’s handbook.
4.) Provide Proper Training
Each employee should receive the proper training for whatever duties they’re expected to carry out. This ensures they fully understand their responsibilities and have plenty of chances to ask questions. Part of your responsibility as an employer is to help establish effective communication among all members of your team. This ensures they’re able to speak without fear of harassment or discrimination.
5.) Acquire Liability Insurance
If liability insurance seems expensive, consider how much it might cost to defend yourself from a lawsuit. If litigation can’t be avoided, it might be wise to attempt to negotiate a settlement. While it would be wise to consult an attorney when considering your options, liability insurance can be even more helpful. Ask for the right to select your own attorney and make sure the insurance company gets your consent before agreeing to any settlements.
6.) Show Compassion
Always remember that no matter what the circumstances might be, the employee is losing their job and will likely face hardship. Additionally, some people take rejection harder than others and they might experience considerable anger. Try to explain the situation in a more compassionate way, emphasizing that while they are leaving your company, there will be other opportunities ahead and the present situation is not the end of the road. You might also consider offering some type of severance pay, in exchange for signing a waiver.
While there is no guarantee you’ll never get sued for wrongful termination, the steps above will help ensure you’ve done everything possible to avoid it. Following the law and documenting everything will demonstrate that you did your part to handle the situation appropriately. A touch of empathy may help convince the employee that their world isn’t coming to an end.