An employer’s reason for discharging an employee cannot be based on the employee’s membership in a class protected by law. For example, an employer cannot fire an employee because the employee is of a certain race or religion or because the employee is pregnant. But, of course, an employer may fire an employee who belongs to a protected class if the termination is not based on the protected characteristic.
As with any discharge, when terminating an employee in a protected class, an employer should comply with its written policies and procedures and should first investigate to ensure that the proposed termination is warranted. If so, the employer should meet with the employee’s supervisors to verify that the employee has not reported concerns about discrimination (and thus the termination cannot be viewed as retaliatory).
After gathering all relevant documents, the employer should prepare for the termination meeting. An employer should always pay a departing employee all compensation due and may consider offering a separation payment conditioned on the employee’s release of any claims against the employer.
If an employer has concerns about a specific discharge situation, the employer should consult with an employment lawyer prior to discharging the employee. The Dallas employment law firm of Clouse Dunn Khoshbin LLP regularly assists employers with employee resignations and terminations. For more information, please contact the employment law attorneys at email@example.com.
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KEITH A. CLOUSE
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