Everyone Should Benefit When an Employee Is Properly Fired

While most people don’t enjoy being fired from a job, everyone can benefit if the process is handled properly. To understand how this result is possible, it’s important to remember that your employees must be able to work together as a team. When one member is completely out of sync with the others or simply cannot do the assigned work in a timely manner, everyone suffers. So, once you’ve efficiently moved through the firing stages, most staff members will finally get the chance to perform at their highest level again.

The following information provides a brief overview of important goals to keep in mind when firing an employee. It also provides tips for protecting your company from wrongful termination lawsuits and describes the best way to meet with people while firing them.

How to Display Good Character and Protect the Business from Lawsuits

  • Be sure to clearly explain all employee management and firing guidelines in an employee handbook. Always hand one of these out to all new-hires on their first day at work and have them sign a simple form noting that they’ve received the booklet and will carefully review it right away. It’s even better to gather together “new hires” within a week or two of their starting at your company and covering basic information in the handbook;
  • Carefully investigate all the facts involved with possibly firing a specific employee. Also, make sure all supervisors are regularly interacting with each employee and telling them when their performance needs improvement – in writing (be sure to have the employee sign and date this form before placing it in a permanent file);
  • Review all applicable state and federal laws regarding termination. If necessary, speak with your attorney if you have any major questions – or believe the employee is likely to sue. Always remember that some employees are very sensitive to issues involving race, gender, ethnicity, religion, nationality, veteran status, disability, age and sexual orientation;
  • Gather together all pertinent, written evidence concerning the employee’s work record. Be prepared to keep this file in a very safe place in case a lawsuit is later filed. While doing this, rethink all the hiring practices that may need to be revised so you can avoid hiring a similar person in the future;
  • Treat the employee with dignity and respect. Don’t gossip about your firing plans. Meet with the employee in a private office setting with at least one other staff member present to serve as a witness. Respect the fact that the process of being fired may be hard on the individual. Unless the employee is guilty of terrible misconduct, remain open to paying a later unemployment insurance claim. Consider offering a severance package in exchange for the employee signing a waiver not to sue for wrongful termination. Be polite yet firm when simply stating the reasons for your decision. Finally, let the individual speak briefly about how they feel about the event. And be sure to pay all monies owed for accrued sick leave and vacation time;
  • Know that you may face sociological repercussions among other workers after the firing. If what you have done in firing a specific person is considered unfair, you may have a problem regaining the respect of many co-workers and superiors. It’s always wise to meet briefly with all concerned employees and simply state that the individual is no longer with the company and that you would prefer to not discuss it further for privacy reasons;
  • Be sure to retrieve all company property prior to providing a last check to the fired employee. You’ll also want to ask for the company laptop and any keys to office property. Be sure to immediately notify your computer and building security forces so they can block the employee’s future access to the company database and email system.  You’ll also need to collect all company I.D. cards and uniforms.

Finally, try to part on pleasant terms with outgoing employees, perhaps noting that you believe that they’ll find a better fit in other positions soon. Everyone really can benefit from a properly handled firing since it can eventually improve workplace morale. In fact, even the fired employee may soon find an equal or better position somewhere else.

Be sure to call our firm if you need any specific advice about preparing an employee handbook, interacting with troublesome staff members — or any other employment law issue.

Electronic Notary Services Will Soon Be Available in Texas

HB 1217, passed during the 85th legislative session and effective January 1, 2018, provides amendments to the Texas Government Code and the Civil Practice and Remedies Code so that Texas can soon begin offering electronic notarization services. In general, online notaries will need to meet the same qualifications as all traditional notaries and must offer their services in accordance with all applicable laws.

Prior to these amendments becoming effective, the Texas Secretary of State’s Office must adopt rules that will govern how audio conferencing and two-way radio will be used to facilitate online notarizations. This same office is also finalizing the requirements for properly applying to become an online notary — or to expand one’s current services to include online access to them.

HB 1217 Amendments Provide Certain Online Notary Service Limitations

In general, online notaries will be allowed to provide online notarizations for paperwork that falls into the following categories;

  • Documents related to real estate here in Texas;
  • Instruments or agreements that secure a debt payable somewhere in Texas;
  • Agreements or documents pertaining to a transaction involving at least one party who is a Texas resident – or at least legally authorized to handle business in Texas;
  • A document that is being notarized so it can be filed in Texas public records;
  • An instrument containing an affirmation or acknowledgment issued by a person while that individual is here in Texas;
  • An instrument signed by a Texas resident, as documented by a current, valid Texas-issued government ID or credential that includes the person’s photograph and current address within this state.

At present, some individuals and businesses remain concerned about privacy and security issues involved with notarizing sensitive documents online. However, the fact remains that the federal government and other states have been successfully using advanced photo ID technologies online while handling important business transactions for many years.

We will keep you advised about when these online notary services have become fully viable. We can also share our professional advice with you about how and when to include these types of services in your daily workflow.