Michelle Cohen Levy

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How employers can avoid claims of wrongful termination

| Dec 3, 2020 | Firm News |

As a company that employs workers, you have to follow both state and federal law while also complying with the terms of the contract you execute with your staff members. Few issues can result in employment conflicts more quickly than the decision to terminate a worker.

Employees can claim that you wrongfully terminated them, possibly dragging your company into court and costing thousands of dollars. What steps does your business need to take to avoid someone alleging that their termination was wrongful?

Be clear about your practices when hiring new workers

Thorough employee contracts and handbooks can go a long way toward avoiding confusion about the rights of the people you hire. If workers understand what benefits, like severance pay, they will receive when their employment ends, that can make it easier to negotiate with them when you terminate their contract. Making sure that everyone knows what to expect will take some of the emotion out of the process and reduce the risk of workers expecting things that they won’t receive.

Document as much as you can

Some firings are a summary decision based on egregious behavior on the part of a worker. Other times, a termination is the result of a pattern of problematic behavior, like consistently showing up late or talking back to managers.

The more specific your examples of misbehavior are, especially if they resulted in written disciplinary action, the easier it will be for you to justify the termination. It’s also important that you be careful who communicates with the worker and how they do so. Someone who becomes aggressive or emotional might say something that angers the worker or makes them feel like their firing was inappropriate or unfair.

If you need to fire someone or if you have a conflict with someone you recently terminated, talking with your attorney about the situation can give you an idea of what steps to take next.