There is a lot of responsibility that you have to take on when you own a medical practice. From treating serious illnesses to ensuring the practice is up to government standards, managing physicians are required to take on these demanding roles, and sometimes, they will have to terminate an employee. However, there are some important things to consider when letting an employee go. IT’s important that managing physicians follow the correct procedures in order to avoid mistakes and prevent a lawsuit. Here are some of those mistakes:
1 – Not Having An Employer’s Liability Insurance
When you have to terminate an employee, there’s always a chance that things end badly and that the employee feels discriminated or unfairly terminated. If they decide to sue the practice, you will have a big legal case on your hands, and the legal fees are sure to be expensive. An employer’s liability insurance protects you from this scenario and will cover the legal fees or fines associated with the case. This is easily preventable by buying an employer’s liability insurance and choosing the insurance provider with the best coverage of a variety of different legal situations.
2 – Not Recording The Employee’s Misconducts And Deficiencies
When you are terminating an employee’s employment, there needs to be a valid reason for doing it; otherwise, there will be repercussions of an unfair dismissal case. You cannot just say that an employee was terminated for poor work performance. There needs to be proof of this. Therefore, documenting the employee’s work history will be important, and you should start as soon as the company hired them. When an employee has received complaints from customers, failed to produce quality work, or has not fulfilled their duties, you need to record this in a document and issue that employee with a written warning. Ensure that you have the date recorded and proof that the employee received these warnings. Should a lawsuit arise from their termination, you will have proof that it was justifiable and the case will likely be dismissed.
3 – Not Properly Following A Progressive Discipline Ladder
Written in many employee handbooks are details of how employees will be disciplined if they fail to conduct themselves properly at work. This could be a verbal warning, followed by a written warning, then temporary suspension, and finally termination. If the reason for firing an employee was for misconduct, you need to follow this progressive discipline path properly. A minor first-time offense would not be a justifiable reason for terminating an employee. Despite no actual laws requiring physicians to follow this discipline chain, it will deter lawsuits if you properly follow your business’s procedure.
4 – Not Following the Employee Handbook Procedure
Employers often provide their employees with a handbook that details guidelines such as company policies, procedures, and rules. These can range from uniform and holidays to terms of employment. As an employer, it’s crucial to fully understand your company’s handbook and adhere to its stated rules. Not honoring the policies stated in the handbook, e.g. giving a day off on public holidays, can give a terminated employee a valid reason to file a lawsuit against you. When drafting the handbook, avoid using language which binds you to specific obligations and duties.
5 – Not Seeking Your Legal Advisor
Almost all physician owners have a lawyer who deals with all legal aspects of the business practice. When you are planning to fire an employee, consult your legal counsel first to see if the reason for termination is justifiable. Having everything checked by a legal expert can save you a lot of money and stress later on if the employee decides to sue you.
In conclusion, if you avoid all of these mistakes, it will reduce the likelihood of a lawsuit against you or your business when you terminate an employee. This will save you a lot of money from legal fees and ensure that your business is protected.
Romanosky Law specializes in protecting individuals that have had a wrongful termination in NJ. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help.