ELIOT WAGONHEIM: If Donald Trump says "you're fired," it depends whether he is on his game show or not. If he is not on his game show, he has to abide by the same rules that everybody does.
ROCHELLE EISENBERG: What Mr. Trump does is the antithesis of what is done in the workplace and what should be done on the workplace.
MARY KEATING: My problem with what he does is that he is allowing peoples peers to decide, which of them will be fired and he needs to make sure that their reasoning is not false and is not a pretext for some kind of illegal discrimination.
ROCHELLE EISENBERG: That would be humiliating for the employee. It also is potentially defamatory and what employer wants to invite any kind of lawsuit, only an employer with very deep pockets.
MARY KEATING: Being fired can be a very traumatic event. On the other hand, the employer wants to protect yourself and your workplace, so you should do it in a private setting without the cameras running. You should keep things objective, focused on job performance, allow the person to get his or her personal items, but not let them stay to work the rest of the day, but doing the perp walk to the elevator is needlessly humiliating.
ROCHELLE EISENBERG: You want to let the person leave with their pride because you want to avoid the lawsuit.
READY, AIM ... FIRE!
Firing should not be an impulsive act used to punish an employee on the spot. The boss' power trip may end up at the courthouse, where he or she must explain the intemperate behavior and justify the propriety of the termination. As one power play invites another, those who "trump" their employees must be prepared to receive a trump card from disgruntled employees in the form of a lawsuit.
To fire the right way, you need to prepare for a calm, brief meeting with the employee. Before the meeting, compile and review the employee's:
- performance appraisals
- written warnings
- salary information
- all correspondence with that employee, particularly if it's related to job performance
If you've done your homework throughout the employee's tenure with your company, and can a documented performance-related reason to terminate, you are far less likely to get hit with a lawsuit later. Documenting poor job performance isn't legally required before firing an employee on that basis. But it sure makes the defense of later claims much easier to win.