-Brody, Wilkinson PC-
1. The Friday Afternoon Massacre
It seems that many companies have an overwhelming fondness for firing employees late on Friday afternoon.Maybe it is due to a tendency to put off the unpleasantness until the last minute.Maybe it is a way to avoid further contact with that employee later in the week.It isnt very smart.
When someone loses his or her job, the terminated employee frequently wants to speak to someone, including a legal or financial advisor.The employee may also want to get going with a job placement agency or with filing for unemployment compensation.Finally, the employee may have some pressing questions about benefit continuation.
Rather than allow the employee to spend the entire weekend frustrated and upset, it makes more sense to terminate an employee during the week.That one consideration towardsthe employee may be sufficient to head off a legal claim.
2. Meaningless Warnings
Employment attorneys are always telling their clients that employees should be warned about performance deficiencies before they are fired.After all, it is only fair to let someone know when they are not performing up to standard.In general, this is a true statement.
The problem arises when such a warning is given and the employer has absolutely no intention of retaining the employee.Having a meaningless warning on the record is worse than giving no warning at all.If the employer does not have a sincere commitment to helping the employee retain his or her job, just get it over with and terminate the employee.
3. Neglecting the Personnel File
Before making any employment decisions, it is important to carefully look over that employees personnel file. Any hiring letter or other documentation of promises made at the time of hiring should be reviewed.Prior personnel evaluations should be taken into consideration when giving an employee a performance-based reason for termination.Also, all policy and procedure statements which were previously given to the employee should be consulted before deciding upon how and when to fire someone.
4. Talking Too Much
The best course of action is to simply give an employee the honest reason for the discharge.There is no need to give chapter and verse about every infraction committed by the employee.Also, do not let the employee engage you in a debate about a lack of justification for termination or dissimilar treatment of other employees.
5. Not Telling the Truth
Always give the real reason for the termination.The euphemistic layoffs or restructuring stories rarely get you very far if there is a legal proceeding.It is better to be honest from the inception rather than having to change stories in the middle of a legal action
6. Not Making Final Payment
Except in the case of a resignation or lay-off, an employee must be given his or her last paycheck on the next business day after the discharge.All earned and unused vacation must be paid to the terminated employee.No non-standard deductions from the pay may be taken.In other words, unless the employee has signed a form approved by the State of Connecticut Department of Labor, no deductions can be made for items such as lost uniforms, vacation advances, borrowed money or even stolen items.
7. Health Insurance Continuation
Make sure that the proper group health insurance continuation information is given to the employee.If health insurance is terminated prior to the employee making an election to continue the insurance, make sure the insurance is immediately reinstated when the election to continue is made.Also, if other related insurance such as dental is available, make sure to determine whether or not the employee is entitled to continue that benefit.The requirement for benefit continuation may also apply to some self-insured medical and dental plans.
By avoiding these seven simple errors, much ill will and some possible litigation may be avoided.Special care must also be taken where the employee might allege discrimination based upon gender, sexual preference, race, national origin, age, disability or having filed a workers compensation claim.