Dismissing an employee is a decision that most small businesses do not take lightly. It can affect the morale of the employees who stay with the company and devastate the employee and his family. Although it is sometimes necessary to fire someone, employers should avoid acting recklessly and violate labor laws. Before firing an employee, check the reason for the dismissal and make sure that it cannot constitute an unjustified dismissal.
When you plan to fire an employee, first review your contract. You will need to follow the provisions of the contract, which could include a warning, conception for severance pay and other measures. If the employee does not have a contract, state laws will apply. Most states have employment laws by will, which means that employers can fire for any non-discriminatory reason or simply for no reason. But some states establish specific guidelines on when, if and how an employee can be laid off.
Discrimination against minorities
You cannot fire someone based on their race, nationality, sex, religion, age or pregnancy. While most employees know that you cannot explicitly fire someone for belonging to a minority, some behaviors can be interpreted as discrimination. For example, firing a Muslim woman for wearing a hijab since it violates the company’s dress codes could be a form of religious discrimination. Any behavior that relates to a person’s minority membership is suspicious, so act carefully if you are not sure, and consider consulting a labor lawyer.
Disabilities, both physical and mental, can interfere with a person’s ability to perform certain tasks. But the Americans With Disabilities Act requires employers to make reasonable changes thinking of workers with disabilities. For example, if a blind person needs dictation software to use the computer, they cannot be fired for using it, and you may be required to give it to them. Nor can you fire someone simply because they have become disabled. If your work performance changes due to illness or disability, first try to make changes to accommodate it and make sure the change in performance is not related to the disability.
Reasons for dismissal
Most states do not require a specific reason for dismissal. However, if your employee seeks unemployment benefits, he will have them unless he has been fired for a voluntary violation of company policies or the law. If you are worried about having to pay an employee insubordinated by unemployment or if the employee’s contract states that an employee can only be fired for cause, document the legitimate reason carefully, discuss it with the employee and warn him or her about your behavior in writing before firing you.