Quite often employers think it is simple to terminate workers when they feel it is necessary. After all California is an “at will” state, but wrongful termination lawsuits continue to rise.
The number of regulations protecting employees from discrimination and harassment has grown exponentially over the last 20 years. These changes have put a premium on managing people appropriately and developing strong performance review procedures so that there can be no doubt about the “reason for termination.” An area of litigation that draws quite a bit of activity is retaliation against staff who exercises their employee rights. It is critical for employers to be mindful that terminating employees who have filed a complaint in the past may lead to adverse activity.
Any manager or leader who has been properly trained understands the importance of documentation. Managers who don’t document poor performance or bad behavior are committing “malpractice” and are putting their employers in “unwinnable” situations. Just as important is the way in which you talk to your staff. Passive-aggressive communication or a hostile tone can be a source of a harassment case.
Here are a few simple tips that can help in the termination process:
- Use the correct terminology and process in termination meetings
- Be specific when documenting and include where, when, with who and what
- Use severance agreements with employees to avoid lawsuits
- Use simple and calm words that help avoid tension and create a more friendly conversation
- Document discipline and performance reviews
The most important step in managing the risks of labor related issues is to train your managers regularly and develop performance reviews that highlight their strengths and weaknesses in managing their team. Your insurance broker should be a resource for managing these risks.