3 Facts You Should Know About Wrongful Termination
Posted on 4/11/2018 by Ali Oromchian, Esq.
A wrongful termination claim can be devastating for a smaller practice, given the costs of defending and potentially settling such claims. The good news is that most wrongful termination claims can be avoided by taking action to ensure that all terminations are justified and lawful. Here are 3 facts that you should know about wrongful termination to protect your practice and to ensure that your employees are being treated lawfully and fairly:
1. Even if the employment is “at-will,” (meaning that either the employer or the employee may terminate the relationship at any time), this does not mean that you can do as you wish. If you terminate an employee, even one who is at-will, in violation of federal, state or local anti-discrimination laws, such action would be illegal. Therefore, you must ensure that any terminations are within legal guidelines.
2. You must follow your own specific disciplinary and termination policies. This means that if your practice follows a handbook which outlines disciplinary procedures, then those procedures must be followed before termination can take place. For example, if your handbook states that employees will receive two written warnings for tardiness before they are terminated, and you terminate an employee after providing only one verbal warning, then the employee may be able to successfully claim that she was wrongfully terminated.
3. An employee may bring a wrongful termination claim if you retaliate against her for exercising a legally-supported right. This would include terminating an employee because she reported you to a government agency for violation of workplace safety laws. Also keep in mind that an employee could claim wrongful termination if she is fired for missing work for a legally-permissible purpose such as required military service or medical/pregnancy leave.
Generally speaking, at-will employment relationships give employers a lot of leeway when it comes to terminations. However, terminations should always be carefully considered to avoid potential wrongful termination allegations. Contact the experts at HR for HEALTH if you have termination-related questions. Open a support ticket titled “Employee Termination,” and we will be here to address all your needs.