Broker Check

Guidelines for Employee Termination

September 20, 2019

Firing an employee, whether or not for cause, is never pleasant. For problem employees, firing may be the only solution but if not done properly can result in an expensive lawsuit. (Violent retaliation by terminated employees is a separate subject.)

Employment specialist Lynne Curry, Ph.D., SPHR sets out seven guidelines for just cause firing, and 22 questions related to one or more guidelines a manager should ask. Here are her guidelines:

  1. Give the employee warning that behavior could result in termination. The employee should have a reasonable opportunity to correct their behavior.
  2. Ensure the problem is job related. Managers should avoid any bias that could lead a neutral observer to conclude the firing was unjustified.
  3. Investigate the facts and consider the employee’s side of the story. There may be factors indicating problems outside the workplace, or previous evaluations may be positive enough to give the employee another chance.
  4. The investigation must be fair and unbiased. Managers must be prepared to justify their decision to a neutral authority.
  5. The manager must have sufficient facts to justify the decision – documentation and if possible reliable witnesses.
  6. Similar employees must have received similar treatment. Be especially careful if the employee is a member of a protected group.
  7. Termination is the proper response. Possible alternatives are transfer, reassignment or negotiated resignation. A “good” reason for termination should not be a cover for discrimination, retaliation or avoidance of benefits.

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Harry Cylinder
Harry Cylinder, CPCU, ARM has spent nearly fifty years in the insurance industry, the majority of the time as a consultant. He has been employed by The Beacon Group of Companies since 2008, specializing in the review and analysis of property and casualty coverage forms. Mr. Cylinder has been reviewing policy forms as they have evolved over the past decades. In 2008 he published an article in the CPCU Journal which was the first description of cyber insurance coverage for a general insurance audience. Since that time he has regularly written on cyber and other topics for The Beacon Companies’ blog.