In an at-will employment state like Virginia, employees can quit their jobs and employers can terminate their employees without advance notice or reasonable cause. However, that does not necessarily prevent the terminated employee from making a wrongful termination claim. With the Virginia Human Rights Act (VHRA), it is easier for employees to claim their employer fired them on the grounds of discrimination or harassment. Here are ways you can prevent these claims.
Draft thorough employment contracts
The employment contract should cover termination procedures and guidelines that precisely describe your legal authority to terminate the employee for any lawful reason. You may include the grounds for termination in the agreement, so you can use these to justify the adverse action against the employee. Observe the stipulated terms and conditions to avoid a breach of contract accusation. Protect and preserve the signed copies of your employment contracts.
Document work performance and disciplinary actions
You will be responsible for tracking each employee’s attendance as an employer. You will also be doing performance reviews. These will allow you to justify the termination or any other adverse action to the employee and even to the court if the employee pursues the claim.
Whenever you or your supervisors and managers discipline an employee, keep an accurate accounting of the disciplinary actions and events. Be specific and include the company policies or regulations the employee violated. Discipline and work ethic are essential to maintaining a professional standard, and when an employee does not perform accordingly, it is proof that they are unfit for the company.
Have strict policies on discrimination and harassment
You can prevent claims against discrimination and harassment by establishing strict preventive measures and regular training for employees, managers and employers. It is a way to address the claims before they even begin.
Managing employees is never easy since everyone has their own unique personality, but the employee should be working for the benefit of the company. If they are only causing problems, it might be a sign to terminate them. Remember to do it the right and legal way, but also be gentle and kind.