Terminating is not anything to lose sleep over nor is it a rocket science if you have done your job. There are many reasons behind termination of an employee for example theft, gross insubordination, and severe economic difficulties.
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The organization did win in the court of law but they did lose in the court of public and employee opinion. But, then again the organization did stick to its decision of terminating the employee and they followed through it even though they had no support of the public or the employees. The organization should have had a proper disciplinary policy, clearly stating the off duty behaviour that can lead to termination, this would have definitely made their decision easier and also would have helped them in court.
The employee should always be given a second chance and if they still don’t improve or don’t change their behavior then the organization has the right to terminate an employee. But all employees of the organization should be provided with a copy of the disciplinary policy which includes the on duty and off duty behaviour and if they act against it the organization definitely has all the right to terminate the employee. Not only should appropriate steps be taken during the course of termination, but before and after as well.
Make sure the employee is being terminated for the right reasons. The reasons for terminating an employee must always be legally defensible one. For example if an employee’s job performance is sub-par or they have engaged in improper behavior, a termination decision would be legitimate. As long as the organization has documentation to support their decision, they are in the clear. Secondly, before discharging an employee make sure that the organization has fully documented their history of poor performance or conduct.
This will help in defending legal claims easier. An organization should always consider the alternatives to termination. In some cases of course termination is necessary, but if work quality issues, work relationships, or outside personal problems appear to be the source of an employee’s poor performance or misconduct considers alternatives such as reassignment or counseling. It is never easy to decide what to do in matters which involve off duty conduct. There is no right or wrong answer for that.
What HR can provide is fair policies that should be strictly followed. Although terminating an employee is an unpleasant task, not to mention tricky, following the few guidelines listed above will definitely help to simplify the process and defend the organization from any legal liability
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