Nothing can distract you from running your business quite like a frivolous wrongful termination lawsuit.
Being fired from a job is often a stressful and emotional experience, and many ex-workers have a hard time staying objective in the face of unemployment. Before you consider terminating an employee for any reason, you likely will not lose anything by ensuring that are no grounds for a discrimination lawsuit.
Discriminatory employment practices
FindLaw outlines the most basic federal anti-discrimination employment mandates, which forbid you from terminating a worker because of age, disability, gender or race, to name a few. Also, you may not fire a legal alien who has the documentation required to work in South Carolina because they are not U.S. citizens.
Other wrongful termination laws shelter those who refuse to participate in employer-ordered illegal activity. These public policy protections include “whistleblowers” who report their companies for performing unlawful acts.
You cannot fire an employee in retaliation for insisting on compliance with the Occupational Safety and Hazard Act or calling in safety violations. Lastly, you may not terminate workers because of a legally protected action, such as requesting time off under the Family Medical and Leave Act.
Post-termination lawsuit prevention
Almost every state, including South Carolina, presumes all employment to be “at-will.” This rule generally means that an employee can quit their job without reason or notice, and you can terminate a worker on the same conditions.
However, since the litigious tendencies of American society often make it easy for a disgruntled former employee to file a wrongful termination lawsuit, you might consider steps to curb legal action. For example, after determining that you are not firing workers for discriminatory reasons, have them sign a release which prevents litigation. While waiving the right to sue does not always stop ex-workers from filing lawsuits, it can discourage the possibility by making the termination more difficult and expensive to fight.