We have a rule at Shepherd Law Group: we won't try to talk you out of firing an employee. I believe that once a manager has made the difficult decision to fire someone, the relationship with that employee is already irreparably broken. At that point, it would be a mistake to try to talk the manager out of it. Instead, our advice would focus on how to do it the right way and minimize the risk of an expensive lawsuit.
We also have a corollary to that rule: we won't try to talk you into firing an employee. For all good managers, firing someone is a very difficult decision, not to be made lightly. Instead, we will advise the manager on how best to handle the situation, and wait until he or she comes to the termination decision naturally.
But that said, there are seven deadly workplace sins — seven capital crimes — that require the firing of an employee. They are:
- Workplace violence
- Criminal activity
- Sexual harassment, if it's serious or willful
- Discrimination, if it's serious or willful
The first four are obvious and self-explanatory. As for the fifth, insurbordination, I mean it in the real sense of the word. Flippancy is not insubordination. (If it were, I would be unemployable. On second thought, maybe that's why I have my own firm.)
I'm sure there will be grumbles over the qualifiers I placed on the last two, sexual harassment and discrimination. Employers should take both of these very seriously. But there are degrees of harassment and discrimination, and termination might be overkill for boorish behavior that lacks malice and that could be cured with training.
What do you think? Do you agree that these are capital crimes in the workplace? Have I forgotten any? Leave your comments below.