May 25, 2017
Human resources 101 supports the concept of at will employment. Simply stated, as an employer, you have the right to dismiss an employee for any reason as long as you do not discriminate based on age, gender, religion, race, or sexual orientation. This should be clearly stated in the beginning pages of a current professionally written office policy manual.
As dentists, this has been drilled (no pun intended) into our heads. If we intend to let someone go, it has to be done properly to avoid the potential of a lawsuit for improper firing. So hopefully you do follow the rules and dot all of the i’s and cross all of the t’s. But based on what I have been hearing, you are still not out of the woods.
Something called retaliation has become the newest form of discrimination. It is the easiest to imply and the hardest to defend. According to Kelly Yeates at Insperity “many businesses create unintended liability for themselves because they don’t fully understand what constitutes retaliation or how to avoid it.”
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines retaliation as a type of discrimination that could follow a previous discrimination allegation. So an employer may successfully defend charges of discrimination for something like improper firing or harassment or wage and tax issues, but because of the way you or your staff responded in those negotiations or interactions, you could ultimately lose the second time around when that same employee sues you for retaliation.
Pretty scary! All the more reason to carefully document every hiring or firing decision, provide the proper training for your staff, and to be absolutely certain that your office policy manual is current. I would strongly advise the owner of any dental practice to call David Dee at HR for Life. In this increasingly litigious environment, you need a company that has your back and totally understands the business of dentistry.
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