Termination of an employee requires planning, patience and professionalism. It is an action that will affect individuals on a very personal level, and therefore should be done with as much diplomacy and respect as possible. This is true not only to protect the individual, but also to protect the employer from potential litigation. The reality is, even with proper planning and professionalism on an employer’s part, it is impossible to predict how an individual will react. There is always the potential for employees to make a claim of improper termination. For this reason, Massachusetts law firms advise employers to adhere to the basic principles of employment law defense: Document! Document! Document!
If a disgruntled employee decides to sue a company for improper termination, it is an immeasurable benefit to have contemporaneous documentation about the reasons why the decision was made to terminate the individual. While many employers don’t have the time or resources to document infractions, they should, nevertheless, attempt to provide sufficient documentation to establish the basis for the decision.
How can you terminate an employee with the best possible outcome? Massachusetts law firms advise employers to conduct the termination in a private setting so there is no public humiliation involved. Be truthful and firmly compassionate. Remain professional at all times. And, as in all employee interactions, conduct the discussion in the presence of a witness. In the event that the employee becomes angry or violent, immediately leave the area and, if necessary, contact the police.
The decision to terminate an employee should never be emotional or impulsive. With proper planning and documentation that supports the reason for termination, an employer will achieve the best possible outcome, and hopefully, avoid potential litigation.
Credit: Denise Murphy, Attorney