There are times when an employer finds himself or herself in a position in which he or she must take action in response to certain complicated employment issues. Disciplining an employee or firing an employee is an unpleasant process, and employers must be especially aware of what they say and do at each step. It is critical that negative employment decisions be free from any implication of any form of discrimination.
California employers may have outlined in their employment handbooks, policies or procedures grounds for termination or discipline. This may include a list of inappropriate actions and things employees should avoid. However, even valid grounds for termination or some form of discipline can become difficult in the event that the employee believes this decision was based on discrimination in some way.
The importance of preparation
As an employer, you understand the importance of preparing well for this difficult and complicated process. From the initial conversation with the employee to the enforcement of any non-compete agreements, you need to know how to minimize your exposure to legal complications. A few important things to consider include:
- Your decision to fire or discipline an employee cannot be on the basis of his or her decision to report discriminatory treatment or harassment in the workplace.
- Your decision to terminate or enforce disciplinary treatment against an employee cannot be on the basis of his or her gender, race, skin color, sexual orientation, pregnancy and more.
- Any decision made regarding termination or discipline should be consistent with your current policies or in line with terms included in your employment handbook, policies and procedures.
- Careful documentation of all factors that led to your decision is important in the event an employee tries to bring a claim against you.
Preventing discrimination claims is significantly cheaper and less complicated than defending an active claim against you. One step you can take that will protect your business interests and make it less likely you will face accusations of discrimination after firing or disciplining an employee is to know how to navigate this process prudently and carefully.
Defending your long-term interests
Litigation is costly and complicated. Whether you would like to reconsider your current employment practices for risk reduction or, if you are already facing allegations of discrimination, you will find it beneficial to take immediate action to defend your rights and interests. Starting with an assessment of your case, you can take steps that will allow you to shield your company, save money and reduce the likelihood of stressful legal scenarios.