Claims from disgruntled workers are on the rise.  In 2012, for example, the EEOC reported that nearly 100,000 total charges had been filed nationwide!  These claims include discrimination charges of race, sex, national origin, religion, color, retaliation, age, disability, and equal pay.  In this two-part series, learn how to head off potential litigation by avoiding these top four mistakes by employers:

  1. Failure to document unsatisfactory job performance. 
  2. Failure to terminate bad workers before it is too late.
  3. Failure to enforce the company’s harassment policy. 
  4. Failure to give a reason for employment termination.

In this Part I, learn why it is important to have written records of poor performance and why it is not a good idea to keep poor performers on your payroll.

Mistake #1:    Failure to document unsatisfactory job performance. 

Not surprisingly, most supervisors do not like to discipline or write up workers.  When poor performance becomes an issue, however, the employee’s records do not reflect prior warnings or dissatisfactory performance.   Employers also invite trouble when an employee receives a raise or positive review and is subsequently fired for bad performance.   Employers likewise face risk when an employee who has been terminated for misconduct or low performance is given a glowing recommendation.   Documenting instances of discipline and giving written warnings are the best way to avoid claims of discrimination.  Enforce all rules uniformly and on a non-discriminatory basis.

Mistake #2:    Failure to terminate bad workers before it is too late.

Many supervisors hope that their poor workers will improve over time.  However, keeping bad employees on the payroll despite repeated warnings opens employers up to claims of unfair treatment and lack of timely action.   Moreover, poor workers who receive many chances to improve are often the most likely to sue when they are finally fired.  Terminate a bad worker as soon as it is apparent that he/she is not likely to improve, and maintain appropriate documentation regarding any prior infractions.