Letting an employee go can be one of the most difficult aspects of human resources management. This task is particularly stressful when the termination is due to insubordination, breaking the law or an egregious act such as drug use, violence or theft. Sierra HR Partners is available to provide guidance during this process.
As a best practice, before planning the termination meeting, be sure to consider whether the employee has recently exercised his or her rights to:
- File a workplace injury or illness claim.
- Question missed meal periods/breaks or correct pay for all hours worked, including overtime.
- Reasonable accommodation under state or federal disability discrimination laws.
- File a complaint of discrimination or harassment based on a protected class (currently 15 categories of protected classes under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act).
- Address a policy or practice believed to violate the law (whistleblowing).
- Discuss the terms and conditions of employment (pay, benefits and supervision) with other coworkers.
- Accrued/used the new state mandated sick leave (effective 7/1).
The above sample checklist, although not exhaustive, creates awareness for you as an employer on how much legal risk may be associated with an involuntary termination. By risk, we mean the likelihood that the terminated employee may bring a successful claim or lawsuit against you for wrongful termination. Other considerations include how long the employee has been employed with your company, performance history, documentation, and written or implied employment contracts. When in doubt, contact your employment attorney prior to terminating.