Personal Supervisory Liability

Courts sometimes hold managers personally liable for their supervisory actions, particularly with respect to actions covered by the fair labor standards Act and Family and Medical Leave act . The former defines employer to include any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to any employee. This can mean the man the individual supervisor.

There are several ways to avoid personal liability. Managers should be fully familiar with applicable federal state and local statutes and know how to uphold their requirements. Follow company policies and procedures (since an employee may initiate a claim against an individual supervisor whom he or she alleges did not follow company policies and procedures). The essence of many charges is that the plaintiff was treated differently than others so consistent application of the rule or regulation is important. Administer to discipline in a manner that does not add to the emotional hardship on the employee (as would dismissing them in the middle of the day, when they must publicly collect their belongings and leave the office). Most employees will try to present their side of the story, and allowing them to do can provide the employee some measure of satisfaction. Do not act in anger, since doing so undermines any appearance of objectivity. Finally utilize the human resources department for advice on how to handle difficult disciplinary matters.

While some managers try to avoid arguments or hurting the terminated employee’s feelings, not being honest can backfire. A US Supreme Court suggests that in certain cases an employee who simply shows that the employer’s stated reason for discharging him or her is a lie could have the right to take the case to a jury.

The termination Interview

Dismissing an employee is one of the most difficult tasks a manager faces at work. During one five year period, physicians interviewed 791 working people who had just undergone heart attacks to find out what might have triggered them. The researchers concluded that the stress associated with firing someone doubled the usual risk of a heart attack for the person doing the firing, during the week following the dismissal. Furthermore, the dismissal employee even if forewarned warned many times may still react with disbelief or even violence. Guidelines for the termination interview itself are as flows:

1) Plan the interview carefully. According to experts at Hay associates this includes:

a) Make sure the employee keeps the appointment time.
b) Allow 10 minutes as sufficient time for the interview.
c) Use a neutral site, not your own office.
d) Have employee agreements an release announcements prepared in advance
e) Have phone number ready for medical or security emergencies.

2) Get to the point: Avoid small talk. As soon as the employee enters give the person a moment to get comfortable and then inform him or her of your decisions.

3) Describe the situation: Briefly explain why the person is being let go. For instance Production in your area is down 6%. We have talked about these problems several times in the past three months, and the solutions rather than the employee and his or her shortcomings. Emphasize that the decision is final and irrevocable.

4) Listen: To the extent practical, continue the interview for several minutes until the person seems to be talking freely and reasonably calmly about the reason for his or her termination and the support package (including severance pay)

5) Review all elements of the severance package. Describe severance payments, benefits, access to office support people, and how references will be handled However, under so conditions should any promises or benefits beyond those already in the support package be implied.

6) Identify the next step: The terminated employee may be disoriented and unsure what to do next. Explain where the employee should go upon leaving the interview. It’s often best to have someone escort his or her until the person is out of the door.