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Arlington Heights business law attorneyA few weeks ago, a post on this blog explored the challenges in making the decision to terminate an employee who is no longer a good fit for your company. That post highlighted the importance of careful record keeping and rational decision-making so that you could protect yourself in the event of possible legal action. The second and final stage of the termination process, however, is the termination itself, and letting an employee go must be done in such a way that both the rights of the employee and your company are protected.

Meet Face to Face

While it may be uncomfortable for you, your employee deserves the courtesy of a face-to-face meeting in most cases. Try to avoid terminating an employee over the phone, through text message, or even via a letter. There may be some exceptions, such as worker with habitual attendance problems, but an in-person meeting is appropriate far more often than not.

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Illinois business attorneysWhen you employ a staff to help you meet the needs of your customers, sooner or later you will have an employee who fails to live up to your expectations. Perhaps he or she has problems with being on time, complying with your company’s dress code, or is simply not productive enough to warrant what you are paying him or her. But, how can you be sure that firing the employee will not blow up in your face, so to speak? There are some steps you can take to help protect yourself and your company from lawsuits and frivolous accusations when you decide to terminate an employee.

The Two Phases

In the movies and on TV, it not uncommon to see a boss fire an employee on the spot for a particularly egregious mistake or outburst. While an immediate firing may be warranted on occasion, most employee terminations occur after an extended decision-making process. Firing an employee, usually, can be broken down into two separate stages—the decision and the termination—and both must be handled properly.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneys, terminating an employeeThere are several aspects to running or managing a business. The act of terminating an employee is one of more difficult and unpleasant. It is also a situation that could potentially put your business at risk for litigation. If you have started a business and need to terminate a problematic employee, the following information can help you stay within the legal guidelines. It can also ensure you know when and where you can find help, should you need it.

Do You Have the Legal Right to Terminate?

Illinois is an “at-will” employment state, which means you do not need to have a reason or cause for terminating an employee. Yet there are some legal pitfalls that you, as an employer, must be aware of. You cannot terminate an employee for reasons that relate to their age, race, religion, or gender. Employers are also prohibited from terminating an employee for taking family leave, military leave, or time off for jury duty. Whistleblowers are also protected by law.

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employee termination in Illinois, Arlington Heights business lawyersEmployee termination is never an easy task, even when the grounds for firing are legitimate and indisputable. Letting a team member go can stir up a number of mixed feelings amongst your staff and can prove to be difficult for the person being terminated as well as the management team involved in the termination process.

Although conflict is inevitable in the workplace, as an employer it is important to reduce tension and prevent any problems before they arise whenever possible. Being prepared and knowledgeable about proper business etiquette and legal requirements can go a long way when you are given no choice but to let someone go.

Employment-at-Will

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Illinois State Bar Association DuPage County Bar Association Northwest Suburban Bar Association American Inns of Court DuPage Association of Woman Lawyers National Association of Woman Business Owners Illinois Association Criminal Defense Lawyers DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
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