Terminating an employee may be necessary, but if your company does not have policies and procedures in place describing the methods you took to end an employment relationship, it could open you up to wrongful termination litigation. At Santomassimo Davis LLP in New Jersey, we help clients develop progressive discipline policies to protect them from employee lawsuits.

ACHRNews notes that typically, progressive discipline follows five steps.

  1. Official verbal warning

Although a verbal warning is the first official step, usually a manager or supervisor will discuss the employee’s problematic behavior at least once. The goal is to ensure that your employee has every opportunity to correct the substandard performance or inappropriate behavior.

  1. Written warning

In addition to providing the employee with an explanation of the problem and expectations for correcting it, a written warning provides supporting documentation in the event that termination becomes necessary.

  1. Disciplinary suspension

The suspension period is generally three business days, and it may be paid or unpaid. This leave is intended to provide the employee with time to determine whether he or she will comply with the changes necessary to maintain employment.

  1. Last chance agreement

If, after the suspension, the employee determines that he or she wants to keep the job, you may want to create further documentation in case of termination by having the employee sign a contract verifying this last chance. In addition, you may want to have him or her complete a performance improvement plan.

  1. Termination

Although it may not be pleasant to have to follow through with the termination, you can have a clear conscience and legal documentation that your employee understood the rule or standard and violated it, and that you gave him or her ample opportunity to correct the issue.

More information about developing policies and procedures that protect your company from employee litigation is available on our webpage.