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Employee Discipline and Terminations: Termination Process

September 28, 2017 | Leave a Comment


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Terminations are unpleasant, but avoiding them can lead to bigger issues in your workplace, including lower morale and efficiency.

Base the termination process on objective and well-documented facts and details, including statements from any individuals involved.

To limit the risk of litigation following a termination, follow the disciplinary process. The decision to terminate an employee should not be done on impulse and should be weighed against the severity of the issue and the number of written warnings given prior to the offense.

If the problem behavior meets the requirements outlined in the employee handbook and company policies, use the following steps to limit your risk and ensure the least amount of disruption to operations.

To prepare for the termination meeting:

  • Gather copies of important documents or information that the employee may need, including information on COBRA and severance packages
  • Assess any security issues that may arise during the meeting or as the employee is leaving
  • Make a list of any company equipment, technology, or proprietary information that the employee must return before exiting the building

Keep these points in mind during the meeting:

  • Meet in a neutral location and try to conduct the meeting at the beginning or end of the day when there are fewer employees around. This helps provide a less embarrassing situation for the employee who is being terminated
  • Treat the individual with dignity and respect
  • Allow the employee to express concern about the decision, but do not be swayed
  • Be prepared to answer questions about the employee’s final paycheck, unused vacation time, benefits, etc. In some states, a final paycheck must be provided to the employee at the time of termination
  • Do not promise the individual another job opportunity within the organization or otherwise
  • While a witness is not always necessary, often you may feel more confident or secure having another supervisor or HR representative present

After the meeting is finished, do the following:

  • Collect all company property, including keys to the building, laptops, cell phones and company credit cards.
  • Don’t embarrass the employee by having them escorted out by security (unless the reason for termination was due to a violent offense or there is a true safety concern)

When all is said and done, even when you think you’ve done everything to mitigate the risks, employee claims can still happen. Lawsuits are expensive and time-consuming, and they do happen.

Employment practices liability (EPL) insurance can be your next line of defense. EPL insurance protects your company from costs associated with employee lawsuits. Contact your Cornerstone Consultant for more information on preventing losses due to employee claims.

This is the final edition of a series of blog posts on Employee Discipline and Terminations to help employers navigate the implications of employee discipline and terminations, including mitigating the risks of employee claims. Click here to view the first article in the series, Company Policies and the Employee Handbook. 

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