TIPS TO DEFEAT WRONGFUL DISCHARGE CLAIMS

    Loren K. Allison, attorney at law 803 S. Calhoun St., Suite 300, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46802 (260) 407-0040Employment discrimination suits are a part of the explosion of litigation in Northeast Indiana.
    Generic wrongful terminations are a smorgasbord of claims and a source of indigestion for
    employers! How do you navigate the minefield of federal and state laws, and manage to keep
    your company afloat?

    1. Document everything
    Consistent with your employee handbook (You have one, don’t you? Have you read it
    lately?), you need to document transgressions as they occur. The work required to ensure a well
    documented termination is nothing compared to the hours and days you will pay an attorney to in
    defend a claim without the best facts and evidence you could have had.

    2. Hiring
    You pick ‘em, you assume their baggage!

    3. Follow Your Policies
    Make sure you follow your own rules to the letter. Have them evaluated by competent counsel.
    Nothing turns a judge/jury against a company faster then its failure to follow its own rules.
    4. Don’t Play Therapist
    Tough as it may be, manage performance! If you make exceptions and deviate from the
    employee handbook and you open a can of worms.
    5. Don’t Make Your Lawyer Rich
    Like it or not, documented progressive discipline is the key. Document the fact that, consistent
    with your employee handbook, you made a carefully reasoned decision to discharge the
    employee.

    6. Sense Trouble?
    Better check with your lawyer, but a simple and effective waiver and release can save you from
    thousands of dollars of liability.

    7. The Exit Interview
    Have two managers present. Act as if you are being taped. You might very well be as you explain
    the objective criteria for termination.

    8. Unemployment Compensation
    Use the appeal hearing as an opportunity to conduct discovery. You want to win the hearing, but
    you also want to listen to the claimant’s story. Request a copy of the transcript, anticipating
    litigation.

    9. Personal Liability?
    As a business owner, there are a number of laws you have inadvertently exposed yourself to that
    you cannot protect yourself from using the corporate veil. For instance, the Fair Labor Standard
    Act, which covers minimum wage and overtime pay, defines an “employer” to include any
    person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee. This
    means you.

    10. Need a little help?
    Call a competent employee law attorney if you need help complying with the overwhelming
    number of employment laws and beat the odds of becoming a defendant in court.

    Article by Loren K. Allison, attorney at law
    Call For A Consultation: (260) 466-5205