Managing dismissals


Involuntary termination of an employee’s employment with the firm

Dismissal is the most drastic disciplinary step the employer can take. Because of this, it requires special care. There should be sufficient cause for dismissal should preferably occur only all reasonable steps to rehabilitate or salvage the employee failed. However, there will undoubtedly be times when dismissal is required perhaps at once.

The best way to handle a dismissal is to avoid it in the first place. Many dismissals start with bad hiring decisions. Using effective selection practices including assessment tests, reference and background checks, drug testing and clearly defined job descriptions can reduce the need for many dismissals.

Wrongful discharge

A employee dismissal that does not comply with the law or does not comply with the contractual arrangement stated or implied by the firm via its employment application forms, employee manuals or other promises.

Three main protections against wrongful discharge have eroded the termination at will doctrine – statutory exceptions, common law exceptions, and public exceptions.

First, in terms of statutory exceptions federal and state equal employment and workplace laws prohibit specific types of dismissals. For example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discharging employees based on race, color, religion, and sex or nationals origin. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits discrimination against persons 40 years or older. The Family and medical leave act provides employees with up to 12 weeks of protected unpaid leave for things like serious health conditions Occupational safety laws prohibit firing employees for reporting dangerous workplace conditions.

Second, numerous common law exceptions exist. For example, some state courts recognize the concept of implied contracts in employment. Thus a court may decide that an employee hand book promising termination only for just causes create an exception to the all will rule. Similarly an employer may create an impression of secure employment by incorporating in its hand book progressive discipline policies are series of procedures they will follow before taking adverse employment actions. Torts are special protections created by the courts. One is against intentional infliction of emotional distress Here a state court may deem an employer’s actions toward the employer so extreme and outrageous that if overturns a dismissal.’

Finally, under the public policy exception, courts have held a discharge to be wrongful when it as against an explicit well established public policy (for instance the employer fired the employee for refusing to break the law).

Grounds for dismissal

There are four bases for dismissal unsatisfactory performance misconduct lack of qualifications for the job and changed requirements of (or elimination of) the job. We’ll discuss each.

Unsatisfactory performance means persistent failure to perform assigned duties or to meet prescribed job standards. Specific grounds include excessive absenteeism tardiness a persistent failure to meet normal job requirements or an adverse attitude toward the company, supervisor or fellow employees. Misconduct is deliberate and willful violation of the employer’s rules and may include stealing rowdy behavior and insubordination. The Know Your employment law feature discusses an extreme example given misconduct.

Lack of qualifications for the job is an employee inability to do the assigned work although he or she is diligent. Because the employees my be trying to do this job, it is reasonable for the employer to do what’s possible to salvage his or her – perhaps by assigning the person to another job, or retaining the person. A changed requirement of the job refers to an employee’s inability to do so the job after the employer changed the nature of the job. Again, the employee may be industrious so it is reasonable to retain or transfer this person if possible.

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