Undoubtedly, termination meetings are one of the most challenging aspects of the employment relationship.
It’s certainly a difficult time for the employee, but it can also be a difficult process for the manager or supervisor conducting the termination. Not only can terminating an employee be an emotional experience, but missing just one step in the process can also create the potential for serious legal ramifications and monetary penalties.
Taking the time to adequately prepare yourself (or your management team) before initiating the termination process is the first step in safeguarding your company from legal action and financial losses. Below are some questions to ask yourself before meeting with an employee to conduct a termination to help identify any potential legal repercussions, and ensure that you have the answers to questions the employee might ask during the termination meeting.
Have all performance management/progressive discipline procedures been followed?
Is the reason for termination well documented?
Does the employee belong to a protected minority class (race, color, religion, gender, age, national origin or disability?) If so, was the treatment given to the employee different from that given to non-minorities or other workers in general?
Was the employee involved in a protected activity?
Does the employee have any pending claims (wage, discrimination, workers’ compensation, etc.)?
Will your organization be paying out the employee’s unused, accrued paid leave (PTO, vacation, etc.)?
Is the employee entitled to severance pay?
Is the employee beholden to a non-compete or confidentiality agreement?
When will the employee receive his or her final paycheck?
When is the employee required to return any company property in his or her possession?
How will any personal property left in the office be returned to the employee (if the termination is not conducted in the employee’s primary worksite)?
How/when will the employee's access to private/sensitive company information be deactivated/revoked?
Who will be in the room (aside from you and the employee) to serve as a witness?
The answers to the majority of these questions in this category should hopefully be outlined in the organization’s employee handbook, or in other documentation easily accessible within the employee’s personnel file.
Download our Employee Handbook Checklist to see if your business’ handbook is missing any of these important sections.
Looking for a bit more insight and information about preparing for a termination meeting?
Make sure to check out the recording of our webinar: “Legal Pitfalls To Avoid During The Termination Process,” presented by G&A Partners’ own Denise Macik, an experienced human resources professional and G&A Client Advocate.