Special from the Advanced Employment Issues Symposium, Las Vegas
To prevent employee lawsuits, approach the situation like a plaintiff’s attorney, says attorney Dan M. Forman, partner at the Los Angeles office of Carothers, DiSante & Freudenberger.
When the law firm evaluates your employee’s case, it is making an “investment decision.” Your goal is to discourage their interest.
Plaintiffs’ lawyers typically spend a lot of time vetting before undertaking representation of your employee. You’d like their conclusion to be: This case is a poor investment.
Terminated employees often don’t have a good understanding of why they were fired, says Forman. And that leads them to conclude that an illegal reason was the basis for the action. You can help with an exit letter. This document:
- Explains the reason for the termination
- Uses cold, hard facts (no show, no call; tardy X times in X days; position eliminated)
- Offers specific details
- Quotes policy violated
- Describes impact on coworkers and productivity
Give the employee a chance to comment or dispute, Forman says, and ask the employee to sign the document, or to indicate that he or she refused to sign.
If you can do this, Forman says, you will have set up your defense against a lawsuit. Your ex-employee’s attorney won’t see much potential for a successful suit.
Forman’s remarks came at BLR’s Advanced Employment Issues Symposium going on this week in Las Vegas.
Stephen D. Bruce, Ph.D., PHR is an award-winning writer and editor, who has been following and clarifying developments in the HR field for 20 years. Currently the editor/writer of the 225,000 subscriber HR Daily Advisor, the most-read HR publication in the US, he has published many books (Seven Secrets of Managers Who Avoid Employee Lawsuits, Face to Face: Every Manager’s Guide to Better Interviewing, Best Practices for HR Managers), newsletters (HR Manager’s Legal Reporter), and training materials (the best-selling Stop Sexual Harassment), plus videos, CDs, and more.
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