Often an employee termination is a slow process that happens because of an employee repeatedly falling short of standards. There are meetings, performance reviews, and warnings that are carried out before an employee is fired. However, there are a few human resources situations where the best course of action is to quickly terminate an employee. Here are some examples:
Sexual harassment, bullying, or violent discrimination could be a reason for an employee to be fired quickly. Although even in these cases, an investigation should take place to determine the facts of the situation. Offending employees may be placed on leave while the investigation occurs to keep everyone safe. Allowing these behaviors to continue in your company will jeopardize your employees’ emotional and physical wellbeing. You could also find yourself on the wrong side of a lawsuit if you don’t take action to protect your employees from a harmful co-worker.
On-the-Job Drug or Alcohol Use
If an employee is incapacitated at work due to drug or alcohol use, they are a danger to themselves, their co-workers, and your company’s reputation. Make sure you understand your company’s workplace drug and alcohol policy and what it says about termination. You will want to follow your company’s standard process for reasonable suspicion testing even if you are certain drugs or alcohol have been used. Once again, it may be in the best in everyone’s best interest for the employee to be suspended while an investigation occurs. There are some situations where the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may also apply to alcoholism. Make sure you understand all applicable laws and you company policy before making an employment decision based on alcohol or drug use.
Having an employee that participates in illegal activities can put your company at serious risk. If you find out that an employee has been convicted of theft, for example, and they work with money or sensitive financial data, you may no longer trust them. But be careful about making employment decisions based solely on someone being charged with a crime. Until they are convinced there is a chance they charges could be dismissed or that the employee could be found innocent. Also, if you suspect an employee is stealing from your company, you will want to conduct an investigation before terminating an employee. Simply suspecting that an employee is stealing is not a great reason to terminate their employment.
As you can see, even in these extreme cases, an investigation along with good documentation is needed to determine the facts and an employee suspension is likely necessary prior to making a final termination decision. In these tricky situations, reaching out to the experts at Helpside and even seeking outside legal counsel is your best bet to help reduce risk.
This blog was written by Brandon White, Director of Human Resources at Helpside. Brandon has more than a decade of experience, allowing him to make complicated employment situations and regulations approachable for small businesses.