Wrongful termination is one of the most common employment disputes that can lead to costly litigation, hefty fines, and damaged company reputation. While mediation can be a master solution to reach a mutually acceptable settlement, it’s still best to do the right thing, from the hiring, employment, and termination of employees.
By doing so, you’re giving them no reason to hold grudges and take legal action once you decide to let them go. Here are some ways to guard your organization against wrongful termination claims:
1. Implement a sound recruitment and selection strategy.
The moment you interview a potential employee, you are putting your organization at risk. Some applicants are great in the interview but can later prove to be a poor fit for the job. If a bad hire belongs to the protected class, firing him can result in a claim of discriminatory termination.
Thus, it’s quite essential to make wise hiring decisions to reduce legal risks and mitigate the possibility of wrongful termination claims. When you hire the right employees, they will likely commit to performance standards, thereby reducing the chance of being fired for poor performance.
2. Document everything.
A well-documented file is the best protection against wrongful dismissal claims. Record improper activities, lateness, early outs, failure to meet goals and targets, and other performance details of all employees across the organization. Conduct a regular appraisal meeting and make sure that you discuss whether their performance and behavior adhere to company standards.
Document progressive disciplinary measures and allow them to rehabilitate their deficiencies. Involve an HR representative in every meeting to confirm that you followed legal procedures.
3. Exercise workplace fairness.
A terminated worker will feel singled out or wronged if you did not fire the other workers who have similar issues. If you want to avoid this, you have to discipline and treat everyone fairly in a consistent manner. Employees should be treated the same way in similar situations without exceptions.
Favoritism is a poison in the workplace, so make sure that everyone faces equal consequences when they do not meet performance expectations. Inconsistency and double standards will most likely urge the terminated worker to pursue legal actions.
4. Terminate with grace and respect.
Despite notices and warnings, termination can still come as a surprise. Emotions can run high, and employees can respond aggressively or emotionally when you break the news. Be compassionate, and try to end your relationship on a positive note. Acknowledge the contributions of the dismissed employee and send him out with encouragement. Avoid doing things that embarrass or humiliate the person, such as escorting him from the company building in front of his colleagues.
5. Offer a severance package.
When firing an employee, it’s always wise not to burn bridges. Giving a voluntary severance pay is an excellent way to show goodwill towards a terminated staff during a stressful time. Perhaps you can’t give him a generous severance package, but you can offer him a small amount when he leaves. This gesture can soften the blow of termination and likely protect you from potential legal action.
While there is no surefire way to prevent a dismissed employee from challenging his termination, these things will help your case and limit your liability.