Have you ever had an employee join your team and at first, everything seemed great, but later on, this employee just didn't seem to work out? Tasks weren't being completed, HR issues started to arise, etc. If you can relate to this common issue, as a business owner, this is the blog for you. Our law firm at the Lake of the Ozarks is here to give you some vital information on knowing when it is legally appropriate to fire someone, in this week's blog. If you have any questions on this particular issue, please call our employment lawyers at the Lake of the Ozarks today. Gibbons Law Firm can be reached at 573-348-2211.
When Is It Appropriate To Fire Someone?
Certain Matters That MUST Be Present For You To Legally Fire Someone
In order to legally terminate employment, you must be able to prove that the employee was not a good fit for the company and/or that the employee was not adequately meeting the expectations set forth within the job description and requirements.
Even if you terminated employment for valid reasons, a vengeful ex-employee may be able to create a convincing workplace discrimination case if you do not have documentation to back up your decision. If you hired a replacement that was ten years younger, for example, your ex-employee may be able to build a case for age discrimination even if that was not your true reasoning or intention. This is why it is important to always preserve documentation that supports your decision to fire someone, such as:
- Copies of emails requesting that a specific task be completed by a certain time
- Screenshots of inappropriate comments made on social media about employment
Reasons The EEOC Prohibits Employers For Firing Employees For
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has developed a list of strict rules governing employers who hire and fire employees. The EEOC is designed to protect women and minorities who, in the past, have been discriminated against in the workplace based solely on certain characteristics. In an effort to ensure that all people are treated equally, the EEOC prohibits employers from making employment decisions about existing and potential employees based upon any sort of physical, cultural, ethnic, or religious characteristic.
When You CAN'T Fire Someone
There is an employment doctrine called "employment-at-will," which essentially allows employers to fire employees whenever they wish, sometimes seemingly for no reason at all. While the employment-at-will doctrine does not require employers to have specific reasons for firing someone in some cases, there are still certain reasons that cannot be used under any circumstances. If an employee can make a case for their termination being tied to one of these invalid reasons, the employer may face serious legal repercussions. For example, you cannot terminate employment because:
- Your employee is over a certain age.
- Your employee belongs to a different nationality.
- Your employee is a woman or another minority.
- Your employee follows a different religion than you do.
- Your employee revealed your company's illegal practices to local
Also, employment decisions may not be used as a form of sexual harassment (e.g., terminating employment because your employee refused your request to go out on a date). You also cannot fire someone for "whistle blowing" - in order words, someone who reveals your company's illegal practices to the local authorities.
If you have questions about whether or not you are legally allowed to fire an employee for certain reasons, we urge you to talk to an employment lawyer first, before making any major decision. It is important that you cover yourself legally and make sure you're not making a mistake before firing an employee. That's where we come in. Our employment lawyers in Lake Ozark can answer any questions you may have and put you at ease. Give us a call today. We can be reached at 573-348-2211. Be sure to follow us on our social media channels listed below to stay up to date on our latest announcements and legal tips.