Jerry J. Goldstein

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Protecting an organization when terminating an influential worker

On Behalf of | Mar 25, 2024 | Business Law

The beginning of an employment relationship is often filled with excitement and possibilities. However, even the most promising new hire can sometimes disappoint an organization. Maybe someone has a personality that does not fit with the company’s culture, or perhaps their performance has simply proven underwhelming. There are many reasons why an organization may choose to terminate a specific employee in a well-compensated position.

Growing the company in a different direction, bringing in new talent and issues with performance could all contribute to the decision to let go of an executive, sales professional or another high-profile employee. Workers sometimes file civil lawsuits in response to job loss or can damage a company’s reputation.

How can an organization protect itself when eliminating the position of someone with influence within the company?

Document the pre-termination issues

Whether there is an issue with workplace dynamics or chronic tardiness, the organization may need to keep records of issues related to someone’s employment. Progressive discipline attempts and disappointing performance reviews can help validate the decision of an organization to terminate a specific employee. The more records there are of issues with a specific worker, the harder it may be for the worker to claim that their termination was unjust. N

Negotiate severance carefully

A well-compensated employee who loses their job often expects a severance package. Negotiating severance arrangements is an opportunity for a business to limit future liability. Companies can require that workers sign non-disclosure agreements and set numerous other terms that protect the employer. Particularly when a worker needs ongoing health coverage, the organization may be in a position to require concessions that protect the company.

Time the conversation carefully

Frequently, a worker’s termination occurs on their last day at an organization. However, such abrupt firings may not be realistic for department heads, managers or executives. The company may need to prepare the successor for that position before notifying the worker of their impending termination. The organization may even need to arrange to keep the employee at the business to facilitate the transition to the next employee. Timing the discussion about the termination carefully and taking steps to prevent a worker from involving other employees or communicating with clients or vendors after their termination can prevent an angry worker from doing damage to the organization that previously employed them.

The decision to let go of a worker is never an easy one, but it is often necessary to fire workers who do meet not company standards. Understanding how to approach employee terminations cautiously can reduce some of the risks inherent in letting go of an individual worker. Managers and human resources professionals who prepare for terminations before sitting down with a worker can better control an often stressful process.