Law Office of Jeffrey D. Fulton

Questions employers should ask before terminating employees

Most California employees know their supervisors can fire them with little advance notice, but in a state known to be especially employee friendly, what happens when they do? 

A wrongful termination suit hit the news recently when, according to NBC, a jury awarded a former Chipotle manager almost $8 million. The long and short of the story is the jury believed the former manager was "victim of a scheme to defame her for filing a worker's compensation claim for a job-related injury to her wrist."

The Society for Human Resource Management may not find these results surprising, given their reminder to employers that "a jury represents an uncertain and potentially dangerous proposition." This fact, according to the SHRM, simply means fair and consistent treatment of involuntary terminations is essential to good business practices. 

Some aspects human resources managers should consider prior to terminating an employee include questioning whether:

  • Leadership addressed previous employee misconduct with appropriate disciplinary procedures
  • Hiring supervisors gave the impression the position was secure with a long-term contract in place
  • The employee had taken or was in the middle of a leave of absence protected by law
  • Anti-discrimination laws protect the employee
  • The worker has filed a previous claim against the workplace

Looking into the above prior to letting an employee go could protect managers from hasty decisions. The SHRM says when employers follow best practices in employer-employee relations, which include involuntary terminations, they have a better chance of warding off those jury trials mentioned previously, as well as preventing workplace violence or other types of misconduct from disgruntled former employees.

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