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You’re Fired! Terminating an employee may be necessary, but the steps taken prior to termination can significantly reduce your exposure to a lawsuit. By Betsey Lund Ross on the manual as a resource for not only how to terminate the employee, but also the basis for termination. Have all employees acknowledge receipt of the manual with a signed form when they are hired.

“You’re fired!” Words no employee wants to hear and words many employers say with a cringing inner fear of liability or litigation. In fact, some employers will go so far as to avoid terminating an employee out of fear of future legal consequences. But as many of us have experienced, a trouble employee can create disastrous havoc in the workplace. Here are some tips to remember to minimize your risk of litigation

Be Consistent When handling employee termination, be consistent with your practices. The employee may not agree with the reason for termination, but the likelihood of litigation increases when employees believe they are treated differently than other employees. This is especially if employees believe they were treated unfairly or differently due to their age, race, nationality, gender, disability status, etc. The employee’s perception – correct or incorrect – plays a large role in whether the employee decides to file a legal claim to challenge the termination. when terminating an employee: Rely on the Employment Manual A well-drafted employment manual should detail your organization’s disciplinary process, set employee and employer expectations, and establish procedures to assist you in applying the organization’s policies consistently and equally to all employees. If termination of an employee is necessary, rely

Keep Accurate Records Whether it’s work performance issues or a bad attitude, most terminations result after there have already been several issues with the employee. Those previous issues should be documented and addressed at the time of occurrence. Avoid sending emails or text messages to the employee. Written documentation should be drafted and signed by the

employee. In litigation, those records become evidence of the issues that led up to termination. Prepare for the Termination Termination should never occur during a heated argument or when emotions are running high. Schedule a time to meet with the employee in a private room to inform the employee of the termination. Prepare notes prior to the meeting to prevent saying things that will later be regretted. Have another supervisor or manager present during the termination as a witness to what was said during the termination. Be Concise Even the most egregious employees may be shocked by their termination and challenge the basis for the termination. But wavering or sugar-coating the reason for the termination will only increase the employee’s confusion and frustration. Be concise and on point with the reason for the termination no matter how much the employee disagrees with the reasons. Following these five steps will not necessarily make the termination process easier, but will certainly reduce the likelihood your organization will face legal action in the future.

contributor Betsey Lund Ross is an attorney and shareholder with Lund Ross, P.A. Attorney at Law in St. Cloud, Minn., working in the areas of business law, employment law, and estate planning. You can find her online at


Business Central Magazine // J A N U A R Y/ F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

January/February 2017