As an employer and business owner it is essential to know how to avoid a wrongful termination lawsuit, especially when facing employment laws on a daily basis. There are a variety of ways to prevent an employment lawsuit against your company and when put together there is an extremely strong defense that will provide legal protection in the court of law.
Employee Handbook: Define Work Expectations and Policies
Foremost, it is key to have an employee handbook that includes guidelines, expectations, policies, behavioral standards in addition to performance standards.
This handbook can be used as a reference point for employees to identify performance objectives and see if he/ she is meeting the company’s criteria. This can also be helpful for the termination process if the handbook is clear and covers all the grounds to protect against wrongful termination as it is a company’s main form of defense. An employee should be provided an individual copy of the employee handbook upon hiring and should sign a document stating that they have read, understand and accept the contents and material in the handbook. We recommend that employees are given a copy of the handbook annually and asked to sign a new handbook annually even if the handbook isn’t updated.
Management Level Training
The leaders of the company should receive proper training on fair employment practices, policies, federal laws as well as state laws as they are the first to face employee relations, including performance and behavioral issues. Leaders should be taught to formally document misbehavior, policy breaches as well as periodic performance evaluations.
Upon an employee’s hiring, he/she should be required to complete orientation which should consist of an in-depth review with a manager or director on the company policies and employee handbook. Through open communication on policies, job performance and behavior there will be less of a case for wrongful termination lawsuits because employees will be completely informed.
Your company should have a termination process that is followed for each terminated employee. This is to create fairness and consistency in this process that can be questionable, stressful and difficult. For instance, the manager should contact the HR employee about performance or behavior problems that may call for termination or at least disciplinary action. HR should then evaluate any records or notes and call for a meeting with either the employee under question and/ or the manager. Additionally, when it comes time to terminate the employee, use empathy and respect. Giving detail and full explanation to let the employee fully understand why they are being terminated will let them come to the realization that he/ she can improve behavior and performance with a different company.
If you would like more information on how to avoid a wrongful termination lawsuit, please contact our office today at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 217-3520.
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