Employees are often the life and blood of any functional business. Although everyone carries a unique set of strengths and weaknesses, some workers might not meet a company’s expectations or fit their culture. In these cases, employees who do not meet these standards are often terminated.
While employment in the U.S. is considered at-will, meaning an employee can be let go at any time for any reason with or without notice, companies still need to consider state and federal employment laws.
Having a valid reason is important
Here in Pennsylvania, employees can be protected from termination in some instances. For example, an employee who is under a contract can only be fired based on the terms outlined in the contract such as poor job performance. Employees are also protected from discrimination or refusing to participate in unlawful activities.
What can get an employee dismissed?
These are some common reasons why an employee might be let go:
- Poor performance: Businesses often must reach certain quality and production standards to satisfy their customers. If an employee expresses they can meet these expectations during the interview process, but then continuously falls short after a given period, it may be time to let them go.
- Bad cultural fit: While each job requires a particular skillset, an employee who doesn’t share similar goals and values with the company may be a better fit elsewhere.
- Questionable conduct: Managers like to think their subordinates will act in good faith. However, if an employee is caught behaving improperly, participating in fraud or speaking negatively about the company, termination may be necessary.
- Insubordination: If an employee refuses to follow lawful and reasonable orders, this can be an acceptable reason to fire them.
- Stealing company property: Stealing is illegal in any instance. At work, it doesn’t matter if it’s a box of pens or money from a company account, theft of any kind can be grounds for termination.
Making the right decision can be challenging
Dismissing someone can be stressful and uncomfortable for management or the owner. However, letting an employee go can sometimes help them grow and pursue new opportunities while improving the work environment.
If you have questions about dismissing an employee, an experienced employment law attorney can help you understand your rights as an employer and avoid potential litigation.