No matter how you came to be a person of power and responsibility in your company, the risks are the same for every boss who has the ability to have an employee terminated. Whether you grew the company out of your garage or were brought in to an already robust operation, the work environment is a complicated one, and only getting more so.
If you have ever had to let a person go, you have probably had the experience of getting pushback on the termination, and possibly even litigation. For all those who have hiring and firing capabilities, it is vital to understand what factors lead most often to a terminated employee crying foul and responding with litigation, hopefully to avoid future lawsuits.
Some of the most difficult needles to thread when you have a problematic employee is when that employee has filed complaints with HR or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Anytime that these factors appear in an employee’s case, it can make it seem as though termination was retaliatory in nature. Even if you have legitimate grievances, it is crucial to document them as much as possible and treat the employee and the inquiries with respect and dignity.
Another common problem area that leads to lawsuits is when an employee who is fired for no apparent reason, or despite having been given positive performance reviews. Even if you are an at-will employer, not giving a plausible justification for the firing that can be validated with documentation can land you in a lawsuit.
These are not the only reasons why an employee may believe that they have been wrongfully terminated, but they are some of the most common. If you are being sued by a former employee, you must carefully consider the best approach to resolving the conflict — not only in one case, but in the many potential cases in the future. The guidance of an experienced attorney can help you understand the full scope of the conflict and assist you as you navigate to a fair resolution.
Source: Forbes, “6 Big Reasons Employees Sue, And How To Protect Yourself,” Brent Gleeson, accessed Dec. 13, 2016