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The Termination Checklist

Previously we addressed the poor performer, from evaluation and discipline to conducting the confidential search. Now we are ready to proceed with the termination. Pete Moser and Jeff Hirsch of Robinson & Cole, LLP, who provided the top ten mistakes regarding discipline and evaluation in my first column on this issue, have provided a termination checklist.

  1. Have a witness present.

    What is said during the termination meeting may become the subject of a later lawsuit. Both persons should prepare a short memorandum regarding what was said.
  2. Conduct the meeting in a private place. Avoid causing unnecessary embarrassment or emotional distress to the employee.

    A termination meeting, which is handled callously and in full view of the employee's co-workers, could form the basis for an emotional distress or defamation claim.
  3. Under the laws of most states, you must provide the employee with a final check for all wages earned up to the day of termination. You should include any accrued vacation time. Explain any other benefits to which the employee may be entitled.

    Check with labor counsel before making any deductions from the employee's final paycheck. Deductions for equipment, which has not been returned, property damage, etc. are generally unlawful.
  4. Provide notice of the employee's rights regarding health insurance continuation.
  5. Provide a pamphlet from your local state regarding "How to file for Unemployment Benefits." 
  6. Keep all facts regarding the termination confidential from your other employees.

    It is best to tell as few persons as possible the reason for the termination, to avoid defamation claims. If other employees ask, tell them the employee is no longer with the company, and that the circumstances surrounding his/her leaving are confidential.
  7. What you actually say to the employee will of course depend on the circumstances. In many cases you may wish to do the following:
    • Explain to the employee that the employment relationship is just not working out, and the company has decided to terminate him/her. Explain the true reason for the termination, as succinctly as possible. Be accurate, but not insulting. Explain that the decision was difficult, but that you believe the decision is in the best interests of the Company. Do not offer or agree to provide letter of reference to employees who are terminated for misconduct or poor performance.
    • Consider permitting the employee to resign, if the employee would prefer to do so. However, note that the story the employee tells the outside world should be the same story you tell the unemployment agency. The employee should understand that classifying the termination a 'resignation' might affect his / her ability to collect unemployment benefits.
    • If you decide to offer severance pay to a particular employee, you should seriously consider making that offer contingent upon the employee signing a release of any legal claims relating to their employment. Consult with your labor counsel before offering or using any severance agreement or release forms. For such agreements to be legally enforceable they need to have very specific language, and be offered to the employee in a particular way.  

Close With A Positive
This may be your last opportunity to have the employee leave with a positive impression of you and the company. Do you best to make it positive from their point of view.

Craig Lloyd represents, a management search firm specializing in the industrial / institutional laundry industry.  He holds a degree in Industrial Relations from Rider University and has been a Certified Personnel Consultant since 1979.

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

LAUNDRY FIRE – Guests Evacuated

CHEEKTOWAGA, NY — A fire in a Days Inn laundry room forced guests to evacuate the building during the evening hours. The fire which began in a dryer was contained to the laundry room and there were no injuries.