More than ever, employers are facing serious claims from disgruntled workers.  This two-part series discusses the top four tips for employers to avoid claims from unhappy workers:

  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.

Part I covered why it is important to document bad performance and why it is not a good idea to keep poor performers on your payroll.  In this installment, learn why it is imperative to deal with harassment claims properly and quickly and why employers should provide a reason for termination.

Mistake #3:    Failure to enforce the company’s harassment policy. 

It is important to follow the company’s harassment policy and procedures for dealing with harassment claims.  Respond quickly and effectively to any complaints of harassment or discrimination, whether by co-workers, customers, or other third parties.  For example, even employers with the best policies and training programs on investigating workplace conduct and harassment can be held liable if they fail to investigate a harassment complaint.  If the employer does not take corrective action when discovering the failure, these types of actions can appear to a jury as “utter indifference” on the part of the employer and consequently lead to an award of punitive damages. It is therefore important to take prompt and effective action.

Mistake #4:    Failure to give a reason for employment termination.

Make sure you follow the company’s rules and be consistent – discipline and treat all employees the same for all infractions.  Be honest and upfront with the employee about the reason(s) you are letting him/her go.  If the employer does not give an explanation when it terminates employment, employees will try to figure out why they were fired and likely will presume the reason was discriminatory.  At the time of termination, have a witness present, such as another supervisor or manager.  If appropriate, you can give the employee a chance to explain his/her side of the story, but you do not need to change your termination decision.