A client emailed and asked for assistance regarding a termination. This manager sent a document stating that an altercation in the work area made it necessary to terminate employment. The document was not signed by the employee nor was there a statement.
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After reviewing the documentation, it was not clear whether the termination was pending or if it had already occurred. When questioned, the supervisor communicated that the action had already been taken. Unfortunately, the documentation did not accurately reflect the situation and would not effectively win an unemployment claim. The employee was wearing sunglasses in the workplace and this was not allowed. When asked to remove them, the employee became vocal and refused which escalated into an argument. The manager got frustrated and then terminated the employee.
The leader was instructed to detail exactly (redundant to accurately…pick one or the other)what occurred during the altercation. Even if the language is a bit “colorful,” you need to write down exactly what was said instead of providing general language; i.e., he cursed. The manager was asked if there were any witnesses to the incident and he said yes. The manager was instructed to gather statements with signatures from witnesses to validate the situation that occurred.
The manager made a number of tactical missteps that provide good learning opportunities for the future: – Seek to understand. The manager did not inquire why the employee was wearing sunglasses. This could have been a result of an eye infection or a serious issue with a family member that caused them to be up all night crying. You have to find out “the why,” so that you have context for your next actions.
- Take time to be calm. Situations do not have to be resolved “on the spot.” When something like this occurs, suspend the employee pending further investigation and seek guidance from senior leadership or an outside third party. The manager got emotional and acted in haste. Take the time to make the right decision for the company and the employee.
- Ensure the company has the proper decision-making chain of command. Who has to give approval before a manager can terminate an employee? Talking through a situation provides valuable perspective and consideration and ensures all are aligned with the final action to be taken.
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