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After firing an employee: Handle the news with care

| Sep 29, 2017 | Business Law |

Sooner or later, if you’re in business long enough, you’ll probably have to fire an employee. It’s never a pleasant experience — but it’s somehow worse when you work for a small firm and everybody knows everybody else.

There are bound to be questions. You have to handle them in a way that protects your company from legal liability without making the remaining employees feel like their jobs or careers are uncertain.

Follow these tips:

1. Avoid gossip.

If you want to avoid getting into a potential defamation lawsuit with your former employee, keep the details of the termination to yourself. Make certain that others who may know the details understand that it’s your policy not to discuss other employee’s personal situations.

2. Watch your terminology.

You don’t need to use the words “fired” or “terminated” when you make the announcement. It’s enough to say that the former employee is no longer with the company or moved on to other pursuits.

3. Reinforce company policies.

When the dust settles, use this as an opportunity to make certain that employees are clear about the expectations you have for them. Consider going through the company handbook to make certain that everybody understands the disciplinary procedure — that might also quell any fears that “anybody could be next” by reminding employees that there are specific steps that get followed prior to termination.

4. Don’t let worriers worry.

If you have one or two natural worriers on your team, consider calling each of them into an informal meeting where you can reinforce the message that they’re doing fine. That can help get your company back on track and stop people from focusing on the past.

5. Keep any litigation quiet.

If you end up in litigation with your former employee, keep the frustrations you’re feeling to yourself and away from the rest of the team. Again, you need to keep silent about what’s going on in order to avoid any potential liability — you don’t want to hand your former employee evidence that could be used against you in court to show bias.

An employment law attorney can provide more information on how to handle the aftermath of an employee’s termination.

Source: Insperity, “Employee Terminations: What to Say to Your Team After Firing an Employee,” Karen Cavanaugh, accessed Sep. 19, 2017

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