Q We have an employee over age 65 who has been a manager for over 40 years and has excellent evaluations in his file. Recently we have learned that his department is possibly committing fraud in their documentation of paperwork. He doesn’t abide by company policy, doesn’t meet deadlines, and has been written up one time for sexual harassment. Can we terminate him without fearing a wrongful termination lawsuit?
A The fact is, there is often nothing you can do to avoid a wrongful termination claim. The real question is whether the termination is defensible in a legal proceeding. It sounds like you have legitimate nondiscriminatory reasons that justify the employee’s termination. Make sure you have meaningfully investigated each of his transgressions and the results are well documented. It is equally important that you treat the employee the same way you treat other workers who engage in similar misconduct. If other employees in the department engaged in the same conduct, they should be subject to the same punishment. If you have done those things, you should have a solid defense to a lawsuit.