Disciplining employees or even ending employment can be a stressful time for all parties involved. Volumes of case law exist about whether such actions are either improper themselves or were conducted improperly. Issues relating to discrimination, harassment, trade secrets, wages, and letters of reference are among some of the most common issues that spawn post-employment litigation.
Employers can take various steps to minimize the risk of litigation in this realm by being aware of the various local, state and federal laws that apply and ensuring the employee is treated fairly in an adverse employment action. Protective steps include: having adequate supporting documentation for any adverse employment action against the employee; stating the reasons for termination accurately, ensuring that laws and company policies are complied with consistently between different employees; exploring alternatives to termination; and, providing proper notice to the employee.
When considering discipline, employers are better off to avoid “progressive discipline’ policies, which are inconsistent with the presumption of “at-will’ employment and unduly restrictive of an employer’s ability or need to discipline employees according to the severity of the conduct in question.
An employee’s employment relationship can be ended by way of:
- Reductions In Force / Layoffs
Also, employers need to be mindful of:
- Wrongful Discharge
- Constructive Discharge
Details regarding employee’s termination or discipline should never be discussed with other employees.