Large corporations often face accusations of wrongful termination, but this can happen to businesses of all types. Regardless of size or even circumstances, there are some critical ways that a company can protect itself by limiting liability if litigation, mediation or arbitration is a possibility or reality.
Collect all available documentation
Maintaining documentation for all employee-related decisions may be considered a lot of extra work, but juries will look much more favorably upon the employer if they keep good records. It can also avoid litigation altogether. This paper trail can be created using:
- Signed employment contracts
- Regular employee performance reviews with details
- Disciplinary policies for all employees that outlines terminable offenses
- Documentation of the termination with supporting evidence that is clearly communicated at the time dismissal
Centralized hiring and firing decisions
A centralized decision maker for hiring or firing provides a lot of cover for employers. The most significant factor is that the decisions to hire and fire are a strong defense if there are discrimination charges based on the protected status of age, race, gender, etc. under equal employment laws. Employers can also help themselves by replacing the dismissed employee who qualifies for protected status with someone else that also falls within the protected status classification.
Enforcement of policies
The employer needs to enforce employment policies in a way that avoids the appearance of bias. For example, an employee may admit to committing an offense that leads to termination, but they can still file a wrongful termination lawsuit if other employees had done similar acts but had not been dismissed.
Planning and execution are key
Working with a knowledgeable employment law attorney can help employers to reduce their exposure in such cases as wrongful termination. Nevertheless, there may be times when a disgruntled former employee files a suit. If that time comes, the well-prepared employer has the benefits of previous groundwork outlined above, and it can then move forward with the guidance of an attorney who has experience handling these types of cases.