Employers in an at-will employment state like Florida know they can legally terminate an employee anytime and for no reason at all. Employees have the same right to leave their employment at will.
However, federal and state laws safeguard employee’s rights against unreasonable adverse actions, which can prevent an employer from lawfully terminating an employee. Therefore, employers should take precautionary measures before dismissing employees to protect themselves from legal action.
How employers can protect themselves when terminating employees
Termination becomes wrongful when it breaches the terms and conditions of an employment contract or violates public policy. Employees can also file a wrongful termination claim if they believe their employer fired them as an act of discrimination or retaliation, especially if the employee participated in protected activity. Employers can protect themselves from wrongful termination claims by:
· Establishing company policy
· Including rules against discrimination and harassment in the company policy
· Creating an employee handbook
· Conducting regular performance reviews
· Documenting work performance
· Making a record of disciplinary actions
· Tracking employee attendance
· Monitoring employee behavior closely
· Equalizing the enforcement of company rules and regulations
· Providing adequate anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training to supervisors, managers and employees
An employer can legally terminate an employee when the employee does not meet the company’s expectations and fails to abide by company policy. The employer must prove the termination is fact-based, meaning they should have evidence to justify a rightful and necessary termination.
Employers should communicate compassionately and empathetically
Once an employee finds out their employer wants to fire them, they will want to know why. The employers should be able to communicate the reason to the employee compassionately, considering how the employee feels upon hearing the bad news. They should realize that the news may come as a shock to the employee, which is why regular performance reviews matter. It allows the employee to know they are not doing their job well.