I recently wrote about the very real grief that often accompanies the termination of an employee. The employee being let go most often feels this stress, but it can impact the entire company. Lawsuits, stressful confrontations and even workplace violence are also common.
Most business owners and managers move to dismiss employees for good reason, but the process requires special care. Poorly handled terminations can result in morale problems among otherwise solid staff or other unintended consequence.
Employers also know that employees have significant rights to recourse if they have been wrongly terminated. Many states have employment “at-will” statutes, but going into court with these can be a weak defense. The Department of Labor has granted protected status to minorities, people over the age of 40, women and other groups. If employees fit any other category, they are probably in one or more areas of protected class. Termination of employees in protected classes can be very expensive if done poorly.
There are some steps that can reduce your risk. The process can be handled intelligently and humanely by following a few simple rules:
• Take the high road. Never attack an employee with disparaging remarks about personal health and never break confidentiality rights about a staff member's medical history by speculating that he or she has or needs a psychiatrist.