Avoiding a Lawsuit: How Important is the Firing Process?
Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Jan 08, 2015 in Employment Law
Its a scenario that no CEO wants to consider, but learning how to expertly fire executives from your company can mean the difference between an amicable separation and legal action.
Avoiding a wrongful termination suit is always preferred to the alternative, so taking some extra precautions and educating yourself on how best to initiate change in leadership is a worthy pursuit that will benefit all parties involved.
The Decision is Made
First, a CEO must always remember that they are ultimately at the helm of their company, for better or worse. If you hired a leader who underperformed, take ownership of the fact that your actions, in part, contributed to where the company is now. However long you have been unhappy with the executives fit in their department, it has been your decision to allow them to stay on, make mistakes without reassessing the companys goals, or whatever the particular case may be.
Too often, CEOs project their anger over the situation onto the executive, but this is not fair to the executive. When the firing decision is made and you are sure they must go, remember to be empathetic toward their situation. It may be helpful to offer assistance in the form of a career coach or some similar service if you think it might be difficult for them to find work moving forward.
The Dismissal Meeting
At this point, it is very likely the executive is aware of the ongoing issues with their performance, and the nature of the meeting should be revealed right away.
Ideally, the CEO should show empathy and hesitancy to deliver the news. After the initial explanation, an HR representative should steer the conversation toward paperwork, keeping the total length of the meeting between 15 and 20 minutes.
The executive might remain professional, or they may become emotional or aggressive. Either way, having a strategy that conforms to the reaction of the executive is always a good plan. If they are professional, allow them the extra time to gather their things or say goodbye to coworkers.If the mood changes toward hostility, it is vital to have security (who should be standing by inconspicuously) escort them out as soon as possible.
At this point, the tone should be mellow and both parties can part ways on a positive note. The purpose of the dismissal is not to discuss the reasons for termination because the decision has already been made. The dismissal meeting should culminate in the employee's willful acceptance of the severance package and waiving the right to litigation. If a few extra steps are taken, the CEO can be supportive and understanding while still doing their job.
It can also be helpful to consult with a lawyer to preemptively tackle any issues with the firing process that might lead to an employment dispute.
Contact an employment lawyer if a Dispute Arises
Even if you take every precaution possible to avoid a lawsuit, disputes still may arise. Protect your interests and your business by consulting an employment law attorney at Stewart Bell, PLLC.
To find out how we can help you today, fill out our online evaluation form or call 1-844-700-4900.