An employer may encounter a fired employee after their termination. Because of this, employers should have a gameplan on how to handle these situations. Some common scenarios where an employer will be asked to communicate with or about a fired employee are:
Most companies have a protocol for terminating an employee, and it’s important to first refer to the company handbook before assuming you know what to do.
While you do not have to inform your other employees when a co-worker is terminated, making a short generic statement would not be a bad practice. This keeps your employees informed and ready to embrace any changes that may follow.
Tell your employees that you wish to respect the privacy of the former employee and that any questions should be directed towards upper management. However, do not go into the specific details about why an employee was fired. Doing so could have negative ramifications if the terminated employee files a lawsuit down the road.
A prospective employer may contact you for a reference for an employee you fired. This can be a tough situation because making negative comments could lead to a defamation lawsuit (even if the comments are true).
You could just simply decline to provide a reference for your previous employee. While you do not have to give a reason for doing so, a neutral comment you can make is that you would not be able to provide a positive reference based on your professional experience with the individual.
If you decide to speak to the prospective employer, here are some ways you could handle the conversation without putting your company at risk for a lawsuit:
If you have any concerns, then talk to your Human Resources representative before you speak to the prospective employer. They may give you guidelines that are specific to the company, or let you know if it is against company protocol to offer references. This may be the case, depending on the nature of the position or the surrounding circumstances.
An employee who has been fired may decide to take legal action against an employer. This could include the following:
Basically, as long as an you keep written documentation of important conversations and events that lead to an employee’s termination, it will be easier to fight any legal proceedings.
When companies fail to document these things, it opens them up for future legal exposure. To avoid this, make sure your company has policies in place directing employees to follow up important conversations in writing.
If you face a legal proceeding after firing an employee, contact an employment lawyer in your area. A lawyer can review your case and determine if you have grounds to file a motion to dismiss.
A lawyer can also help you formulate a defense if the case moves forward to trial. It also would not be a bad idea to have a lawyer review and update your current employment policies.
Last Modified: 08-08-2018 12:26 AM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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