Terminations are never easy. However, proper documentation can go a very long way in protecting your agency from future litigation. Documentation is especially critical for several reasons:
- Adherence to company policies. Documentation can indicate whether an employee knew that the policy existed and whether a manager warned the employee about violating the policy. It can also show whether there were any mitigating circumstances and whether the manager followed company policies and procedures when disciplining the employee.
- A valid business purpose. Documentation will provide evidence that a valid business purpose exists for termination and the termination does not violate any statute, policy or specific employment agreement.
- Evenhanded treatment. Documentation can provide evidence that employees who have engaged in similar conduct were subject to similar discipline, thus supporting the position that an employee’s protected status (race, color, creed, sex, national origin, marital status and age) had nothing to do with the termination decision.
- Accommodation. If accommodation is an issue, documentation can provide evidence that an employer made an offer or reasonable accommodation, taking into account a person’s religion or handicap.
- Investigation. It is important to conduct a thorough investigation prior to any termination decision. The use of documentation can provide evidence that such an investigation was conducted and employees were given the opportunity to relate their side of the story.
- Creating a record. An employee’s overall personnel record should support the termination decision. Thorough documentation can provide such evidence and substantiate the fact that an employee was told how to improve, when he needed to improve and that failure to improve would result in termination.