Managing Dismissals

Managing Dismissals

Managing Dismissals

Managing Dismissals . Not all employee separations are voluntary. Some career plans and appraisals end not in promotion or graceful retirement but in dismissal—involuntary termination of an employee’s employment with the firm.

Many dismissals are avoidable. For example, many dismissals flow from bad hiring decisions. Using assessment tests, background checks, drug testing, and clearly defined jobs can reduce such dismissals.

Grounds for Dismissal

There are four bases for dismissal: unsatisfactory performance, misconduct, lack of qualifications for the job, and changed requirements of (or elimination of) the job.

Unsatisfactory performance refers to a persistent failure to perform assigned duties or to meet prescribed standards on the job. Specific reasons include excessive absenteeism, tardiness, a persistent failure to meet normal job requirements, or an adverse attitude.

Misconduct is deliberate and willful violation of the employer’s rules and may include stealing and rowdy behavior.

Lack of qualifications for the job is an employee’s inability to do the assigned work, although he or she is diligent. Because this employee may be trying to do the job, it is reasonable to try to salvage him or her—perhaps through further training or by assigning the employee to another job.

Changed requirements of the job is an employee’s incapability of doing the job after the nature of the job has changed. Similarly, you may have to dismiss an employee when his or her job is eliminated. Again, the employee may be industrious, so it is reasonable to retrain or transfer this person, if possible.


a form of misconduct, is sometimes the grounds for dismissal. The two basic categories of insubordination are unwillingness to carry out the manager’s orders, and disrespectful behavior toward the manager. (This assumes that the orders were legitimate, and that the manager did not incite the reaction through his or her own extreme behavior.) Examples of insubordination include:

1. Direct disregard of the boss’s authority
2. Direct disobedience of, or refusal to obey, the boss’s orders, particularly in front of others
3. Deliberate defiance of clearly stated company policies, rules, regulations, and procedures
4. Public criticism of the boss
5. Blatant disregard of reasonable instructions
6. Contemptuous display of disrespect
7. Disregard for the chain of command
8. Participation in (or leadership of) an effort to undermine and remove the boss from power

Fairness Safeguards Dismissals are never easy. However, the manager can take steps to make them fair.90

First, allow the employee to explain why he (or she) did what he did.

It could turn out, for instance, that the employee “disobeyed” the order because he or she did not understand it. Similarly, people who get full explanations of why and how termination decisions were made “were more likely to
perceive their layoff as fair … and indicate that they did not wish to take the past employer to court.”

Second, have a formal multistep procedure (including warning) and an appeal process.

Third, the person who actually does the dismissing is important. Employees in one study whose managers informed them of an impending layoff viewed the dismissal fairer than did those told by, say, a human resource manager.

Some employers take a less diplomatic approach. About 10% of respondents in one survey said they’ve used
e-mail to fire employees.91 When JCPenney dismissed thousands of employees in 2012, many were fired in groups of a few dozen to over 100 in an auditorium. Use the right person, and dismiss humanely

Fourth, dismissed employees who feel they’ve been treated unfairly financially are more likely to sue. Many employers use severance pay to blunt a dismissal’s sting

median weeks of severance Pay
by Job level

Avoiding Wrongful Discharge Suits

Wrongful discharge (or termination) occurs when an employee’s dismissal does not comply with the law or with the contractual arrangement stated or implied by the employer. (In a constructive discharge claim, the plaintiff argues that he or she quit, but had no choice because the employer made the work situation so intolerable.)

Avoiding wrongful discharge suits requires several things.

First, have employment policies including grievance procedures that help show you treat employees fairly. Here employers can also use severance pay to blunt a dismissal’s sting. No termination is pleasant, but the first line of defense is to handle it justly.

Second, review and refine all employment-related policies, procedures, and documents to limit challenges. Procedural steps include:

●● Have applicants sign the employment application. Make sure it contains a statement that “the employer can terminate at any time.”
●● Review your employee manual to delete statements that could undermine your defense in a wrongful discharge case. For example, delete “employees can be terminated only for just cause.”
●● Have written rules listing infractions that may require discipline and discharge.
●● If a rule is broken, get the worker’s side of the story in front of witnesses, and preferably get it signed. Then check out the story.
●● Be sure that employees get a written appraisal at least annually. If an employee shows evidence of incompetence, give that person a warning. Provide an opportunity to improve.
●● Keep careful confidential records of all actions such as employee appraisals, warnings or notices, and so on.
●● Finally, ask the questions

Security Measures

Prudence suggests using a checklist to ensure (for instance) that dismissed employees return all keys and company property, and (often) accompanying them out of the building. The employer should disable Internet-related passwords and accounts of former employees, plug holes that could allow an ex-employee to gain illegal online
access, and have rules for return of company laptops and handhelds. “Measures range from simply disabling access and changing passwords to reconfiguring the network and changing IP addresses, remote access procedures, and telephone numbers,” says one chief technology officer.

In The Part 2 We Will Discuss :

  • Supervisor Liability
  • Th Exit Process and Termination Interviewe
  • Layoffs and the Plant Closing Law
  • Adjusting to Downsizings and Mergers


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