Terminating an employee, whether for misconduct or a reduction in force, is never a pleasant task. However, at times it is a necessary part of managing a workforce. Voluntary termination by an employee through resignation or retirement may not carry the negative stigma of an involuntary termination, but it does trigger certain responsibilities for the employer.
Each step in the process of terminating an employee should be carefully executed. Each step must be carefully and thoroughly documented. If an employee is discharged for poor performance and later sues alleging discrimination, the employer will have a difficult time defending if the personnel file is devoid of any documentation of the poor performance over a reasonable period of time.
Note: Terminating an employee is a very sensitive matter, requiring careful communication and documentation to avoid potential lawsuits or other future problems. It is prudent to consult an employment law attorney or HR specialist before taking any specific steps should the need to terminate an employee arise.
Although “at will” employment is common to virtually all states, employees do have substantial statutory protection as well as remedies found in judicially recognized exceptions to the at will employment rule.
Although this list is not exhaustive, you can see the need for sound HR practices regarding termination, because there are many potential pitfalls for employers surrounding terminations.
The Termination section covers:
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