Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Firing / Terminating Employees in Texas – Creating a Paper Trail

Earlier in this blog, I mentioned documenting any employee disciplinary actions that you decide to take as an employer.

Documentation helps in a number of ways. First, it will help refresh your recollection of events if your decision is challenged at a later time. Next, it will provide a contemporaneous record to demonstrate that you are not simply “making stuff up” after the fact. And proper documentation can also demonstrate that you acted in a non-discriminatory and non-harassing manner.

When documenting your actions, consider including the following items:

  • a copy of your employee policies, with the employee’s signed acknowledgment of those policies;
  • a copy of any documents that you reviewed, tests that you performed, and interviews or statements that you obtained when you investigated the incident giving rise to termination;
  • a copy of all prior warnings or disciplinary actions that you gave to the employee prior to making the decision to terminate employment;
  • a copy of any response or explanation provided by the employee concerning his or her actions;
  • a copy of any resignation letter or email from the employee;
  • if termination is due to a reduction-in-force or “layoff,” documents reflecting the neutral business-related criteria that you used to select those employees who were terminated; and
  • if possible, a signed acknowledgment that the employee has received his or her final pay with a full release of any future claims to overtime pay or other compensation.

When in doubt, particularly if you have had continuing problems with a particular employee, you may wish to consult with an outside legal professional or in-house counsel before taking firing an employee.