Q: How does proper documentation help protect my business against employee lawsuits for wrongful termination?
–Cautious Company Owner
A: Dear Cautious:
If a fired employee sues you, by far the most powerful weapon you have to defend yourself is complete, thorough, and contemporaneous documentation of the employee’s behavior.
Thoroughly documenting all employee incidents, along with the corrective measures you took as a result, can not only provide strong evidence to defend against a lawsuit, but it can often be enough to get a claim thrown out well before it even reaches the trial phase.
Ideally, the documentation process should be a collaborative effort with the employee, and all incidents should be documented in writing as soon as possible following the action in question. Collaborative documentation includes having employees read and sign that they understand why disciplinary actions are being taken, and that they agree to abide by any corrective action plan you may require them to complete.
A Family Business Lawyer™ can not only help you develop effective documentation procedures, but also advise you on the proper corrective actions to implement in order to make certain you’re offering your team an appropriate opportunity to rectify their behavior. In this way, termination will always be your last resort.