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The complexities involving firing workers in protected classes

On Behalf of | Nov 16, 2021 | Employee Issues

If you have workers at your franchise business who are in a protected class, you know that you must be wary about anything that could be considered discrimination against them. These classes include things like race, religion, sex, and age, just to name a few.

In some cases, employers feel like it is nearly impossible to fire these workers. Say you want to let someone go, but they’re in their 40s. You are almost sure they’re going to say you discriminated against them because of their age and claim it was a wrongful termination, especially if you replace them with a younger worker. Does that mean you’re stuck with them?

Document the process carefully

It is certainly possible to fire workers in protected classes. It’s just important to have a valid reason to do so. You need to document everything as carefully as possible so that there’s no dispute about why you did it. Examples of reasons that workers can be fired include:

  • Gross misconduct
  • Poor performance
  • Violence
  • General layoffs
  • Destruction of property
  • False or plagiarized work
  • Sexual harassment
  • Discrimination

Just make sure that it’s clear which reason you’re using. For instance, if an employee has poor performance, it may be wise to talk to them about it first and document that conversation. Implement a performance improvement plan (PIP). If they still don’t change and you end up firing them, you have proof that both the company and the employee knew why they were fired.

Naturally, even doing everything properly doesn’t mean you won’t face allegations of discrimination or wrongful termination from employees who are less than happy to be let go. If you do, make sure you are well aware of the legal options at your disposal.