Can I fire someone over something I saw on social media?

Termination

Social media occupies a strange place between the public and private spheres, and that overlap has the potential to get people in trouble. Facebook, Twitter, and other sites give people a forum to share their lives – which can mean everything from posting personal photos to venting about workplace grievances. However, the content of these posts doesn’t always stay private. As an employer, there’s the ever-present chance that you could see something on an employee’s social media profile that changes your perception of them so drastically that you may no longer want them to be associated with your business. But are you within your legal rights to fire an employee for something they post on social media? According to the National Labor Relations Act, that all depends on the content and circumstances. Here’s how to know if you’re protected.

When It’s Legal

A contract has been breached

Did an employee share confidential company information publicly? Post a photo of sensitive materials that breaches a non-disclosure agreement? If your employee violates a contract with their social media activity, you’re well within your rights to terminate them. Just make sure you retain their signed contract in case of a potential wrongful termination suit.

They’re harassing customers or another employee

As long as you have an anti-harassment policy clearly outlined in your official employee handbook, your business will be protected in terminations for harassment and hate speech. Without this agreement like this, you could unfortunately still be at risk if your former employee can prove the comments were non-violent or did not create an issue for the company – so it’s extremely important to create and retain signed agreements on matters like this from the beginning of employment. You can read more about how to create a solid employee handbook here.

You have an at-will employment agreement

At-will employment grants employers the right to terminate an employee at any time for any reason, as long as that reason does not infringe up any rights granted by the Department of Labor. If your business is in an at-will employment state and you decide to terminate an employee for a social media post, you are likely within your rights as long as you can prove you are not violating their rights with your decision. For example, you could not fire an employee because you discover they have a disability through a Facebook post.

When It’s Illegal

It’s a concerted statement

Employees of private companies reserve the right to discuss subpar working conditions with co-workers under concerted activity protections. This means that if two or more of your employees have a discussion that casts your business in a bad light on social media, it’s not necessarily grounds for a legal termination. While it’s preferable that these issues not be broadcast publicly, this type of speech is protected, and you could be found guilty of wrongful termination.

Off-duty conduct laws

Employees have rights that protect off-the-clock actions from affecting their employment. That means you can’t typically fire an employee for a social media post they’ve made during their  private time – unless it otherwise conflicts with any of your company’s policies as described above. As with any termination, it’s important to back up your claim with as many other pieces of evidence and witnesses as possible before you take action so off-duty conduct laws can’t be used against you in a lawsuit.

Employee social media activity can be a grey area when it comes to disciplining and terminations, but with all the appropriate preparations and policies, you do have a legal course of action for protecting your business. Having a dedicated team take up the burden of HR responsibilities can help you establish a process, and avoid mistakes that make your business vulnerable to legal retribution. Bambee helps give small business owners the HR tools to grow and protect their business, so they can get back to running it. Head over to www.bambee.com to see how we can help support your organization in all its human resource needs.

How Bambee Works

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Small business owners are far more likely to be sued by an employee than a large corporation is.

Why is this?

Labor laws are complex, and as a business owner, you’re already responsible for enough without having to become an HR expert. When it comes to compliance and employee terminations, many business owners are unfamiliar with the intricacies of federal and state regulations. Not having an HR team to manage these issues can be extremely damaging to your business – a wrongful termination lawsuit can cost over $500,000 in the state of CA.

Small businesses shouldn’t have to risk financial instability with every new hire, and we want to help. Bambee is the first full-service termination and HR compliance solution for small business.

Here’s how our service works:

1. Tell us a little about your business

We’ll help you figure out what needs updating to make sure you’re compliant with state and federal regulations. Tell us details like:

  • Your company size
  • General workplace guidelines
  • What kind of records you currently have for your employees
  • Insight into your business’s current processes for compliance and employee management

2. Meet with your Bambee advisor

Once our team of HR experts identifies any problem points, we’ll give your business the Bambee Prescription. You’ll get a call from one of our HR experts, who will review your information and create a customized plan for bringing your business up to speed.

Specifically, we’ll help you with:

  • Wage and hour compliance
  • Workplace safety
  • Employee conflict resolution
  • Relationships with government institutions & claim management
  • Documentation: Creating or optimizing your employee handbook, making sure your employees have signed arbitration agreements, and more

3. Get the Bambee solution

Our team will guide you every step of the way,  answer every question, and make sure every aspect of your business is in compliance with federal and state regulations. If you’re in need of termination assistance, we’ll help craft a termination meeting script and even stay on the phone during your meeting to make sure you’re completely covered.

Without a dedicated HR team, you’re at risk of being sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars over issues such as wages and hours, workplace safety, workers’ compensation, benefits, wrongful termination, and more. Bambee can help to protect your business from losing time and money to these painful litigation processes.

Get started now by answering a few questions about your business, and let Bambee be your affordable HR solution.

You Need An Employee Handbook – Here’s How To Create Your First

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Creating a comprehensive guide for your business might seem like a daunting task, but an employee handbook can help a company of any size protect its business and improve retention. A handbook is an indispensable time and money saver in the case of any performance issues down the line.

The employee handbook includes all company policies, and functions as a guide for your team as well as protection for your business in the case of a dispute. You can keep your handbook general, or use it as an opportunity to make a lasting first impression and shape each new hire with your company vision. Here are some basics to get you started.

Where to start

Employee handbooks typically open with standards regarding workplace conduct. Start compiling this portion by observing your workplace. Track common practices, challenges, even resolutions to previous issues, and create a plan around them. This section should include the following:

  • Dress code
  • Ethics guidelines
  • General workplace behavior
  • Compensation
  • Time-off policy
  • Benefits
  • Confidentiality/non-compete clauses

This is also an opportunity to present your company mission, and tell new employees how to best represent your business as a part of the team. What information would help every new hire succeed, and ensure smooth processes within your organization? Answering that question is essential to a great employee handbook.

What you must include by law

This portion of your employee handbook is extremely important. All businesses must abide by federal and state regulations in their hiring practices, and it’s critical to show compliance in your handbook to prevent against any potential legal ramifications. This section should include the following:

  • Anti-discrimination and harassment policiesThe U.S. Department of Labor requires businesses to post information stating compliance with equal opportunity employment laws and anti-discrimination acts. This is also an opportunity to tell employees how to stay in compliance.
  • Medical leave policies – Show your compliance with The Federal Family Medical Leave Act, as well as your state’s policies and those specific to your business.
  • Worker’s Compensation – Most states require worker’s compensation policies be made available to employees in writing.
  • Employment at will – At-will employment refers to the labor law stating employees can be terminated at any time by an employer without warning or just cause. If your business is in an state exempt from at-will employment, include some standard termination grounds and processes.

Make sure every new hire confirms with a written signature that they have read the handbook completely before their first day on the job.

It’s important to talk to an HR professional while drafting your handbook to ensure your company is in compliance with federal and state regulations. You want to make sure you’ve covered your bases, and are doing everything you can to protect your business. Having a dedicated team take up the burden of HR responsibilities like creating and maintaining an employee handbook can help you avoid mistakes that make your business vulnerable to legal retribution. Bambee helps give small business owners the HR tools to grow and protect their business, so they can get back to running it. Head over to www.bambee.com to see how we can help support your organization in all its human resource needs.

4 HR Basics Every Small Business Owner Should Know

corrective action

Small business owners are far more likely to be sued by an employee than a large corporation is. This increased risk is due to a few unfair disadvantages experienced by small businesses, specifically the lack of a dedicated human resources department.

Labor laws can be complex. A business owner responsible for running an entire organization doesn’t have time to study them, or the money to outsource this important work. Ensuring these rules and regulations are followed to the letter only becomes more important as a company grows – they serve as a protection for your employees as well as for you and your business.

Having access to a human resources team can protect your business from some of these costly lawsuits, and Bambee wants to help. Here are some basics to help you lay the HR groundwork, and keep your business safe and secure

1. Create a comprehensive employee handbook

This might seem like a daunting task, but putting together an employee handbook is a lot simpler than you’d think with the right support system. A handbook is an indispensible time and money saver in the case of any performance issues down the line.

The employee handbook includes all company policies, and functions as a guide for your team as well as protection for your business in the case of a dispute. Your handbook can be as specific to your organization’s needs as you like. We recommend that it include at least these basic components:

  • General standards of workplace conduct
  • Anti-discrimination and harassment policies
  • Confidentiality
  • Leaves of absence, paid time off, and work schedules
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Employment at will

Make sure every new hire confirms with a written signature that they have read the handbook completely before their first day on the job.

2. Post required federal and state regulations

This is an easy one to check off the to-do list. Federal and state regulation requires information related to working conditions, hours, wages, and other industry specific laws to be posted and available to employees at all times during the workday. All you have to do is obtain the required signage for your state and business, and make sure it’s posted in a visible spot within your office (it’ll make a great addition to your breakroom!). It’s important for all employees to be aware of regulations, and for your business to have a record of making them public.

You can find more information for your specific state and industry, and order all posters required for your particular business, here.

3. Maintain a physical file of ALL employee documents

Keeping a record for every employee is an HR essential. There are three types of files that must be kept for each member of your team:

The I-9 file verifies employment authorization for anyone hired in the United States. Federal law requires a completed I-9 form to be on file for all employees, and available for inspection at anytime.

The employee medical file contains any information related to an employee’s health or medical history. This includes insurance paperwork, doctor’s notes, disability information, or workers’ compensation incident reports.

The general employee file includes all pertinent documentation exchanged from the initial application through the exit interview – resume, job application, offer letter, signed employee handbook, payroll information, performance evaluations, documentation of any disciplinary action or warnings, and termination documentation.

All employee information is confidential, and should be kept in a secure location only accessible by the business owner.

4. Have an airtight termination process

Terminating an employee is never easy, but it’s especially difficult without a dedicated HR team. As a small business owner you’re not only running every aspect of a business on your own, you’re also likely to be working closely with employees, which can make firings particularly challenging.

Having a dedicated team take up the burden of HR responsibilities can help you establish a process, and avoid mistakes that make your business vulnerable to legal retribution. Bambee helps give small business owners the HR tools to grow and protect their business, so they can get back to running it. Head over to www.bambee.com to see how we can help support your organization in all its human resource needs.

What To Do With a Bad Employee

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Businesses take a big risk when hiring employees of different experiences and personality types, so when the team has a toxic employee, the business and everything related to the business can be in danger.  Even when the bad or toxic employee is known, it can be difficult trying to remold them into an engaged and happy employee so here’s what to do with a bad employee.

What To Do With a Bad Employee

  1. Assess the situation.  Before you can make any judgments on the employee, you need to do some research on the employee’s behavior and work performance.  You’ll want to dig into all the past and current performance metrics, any employee surveys or feedback, and review notes from past meetings. As you start to better understand how the employee turned bad or toxic, check in with HR to get some guidance on what additional intel you’d need to properly understand the situation.
  2. Determine if corrective action is needed.  Once you’ve assessed the situation, you’ll want to figure out if taking corrective action with the employee is an option.  Typically, when you do not have past documentation of any performance or behavioral issues, corrective action with help both you and the business. Disciplining employees by using a corrective action plan can help kickstart the process of trying to rehabilitate the employee.
  3. Check in with HR.  Depending on your organization’s policies and the employee issue, it may be difficult to figure out which course of action to take.  HR is your best resource to help you make the right decisions and can help determine if corrective action or termination is the best course of action.
  4. Openly communicate with the employee.  Once you’ve gone through the first three steps, it’s time to have a conversation with the employee to understand their perspective.  This will help clarify any potential issues and can help you decide if any corrective action should be taken. 
  5. Consider termination.  If everything has been researched, communication has happened between the employee and HR, and the employee continues to be bad or toxic, then firing the employee becomes a real option. Discuss with HR if you’re considering firing the employee so you can ensure the business stays protected if the employee needs to be terminated. 

How to Train Managers on Termination

Termination

As an HR team, you have a tall order balancing between recruiting, talent development, and enforcing company policy.  And while most managers do well in day-to-day management of their employees, when it comes to firing them, they could feel very lost. It’s important to train all managers in tasks and processes that help mitigate risk to the company, especially on terminating employees. 

Training Managers on Employee Termination

  1. The importance of training.  The training helps to protect the business and provide the right tools to ensure the process is standardized and done the same across the company.  If the process is followed correctly and is done the same for every employee that’s fired, then it significantly decreases risk of a wrongful termination lawsuit related to being treated unfairly and creates less confusion amongst managers about what the right process is.
  2. The most important points to focus on.  There are a handful of topics that managers need to understand before terminations can happen. 
    • Managers need to have a good understanding of documentation and what the corrective action process is.  This helps ensure they understand there’s a whole set of steps to follow before even considering terminating an employee.
    • Managers also need to be able to objectively articulate why the employee is to be terminated.  There are main categories of reasons, with the basics including unsatisfactory performance, a change in organizational structure, and direct misconduct. They need to understand if they even have the authority to fire an employee.
    • The process and tools used to get a termination approved. It’s helpful to walk managers through an example case scenario to ensure they understand.
    • How to conduct a termination meeting is vital to ensure the manager does not say anything that could endanger the company.  Make sure to avoid small talk, remain calm, and try to direct the meeting in an organized manner to avoid any misleading communication. 
  3. Have reference guides available.  Managers just learned a lot of new information. It’s important to have the information used in the training available and easily accessible. Depending on the employees they’re responsible for, the need to terminate an employee could happen their first month or after their first year.
  4. Don’t be afraid to enforce the rules.  Managers represent the company and are the first line of defense against any possible employee issues that can pose a risk to the business. If a manager is not following the policy the HR team has set forth, they’ll need corrective action, or else they may not be fit to be a manager with direct reports. At the end of the day, the business needs to be protected before it can do anything else (especially grow revenue).

Bambee gives Managers and HR Teams the right tools to fire an employee the right way without worry about any additional training. Best-practice guides and tips are available at every step to ensure each Manager follows the same process the right way every time. Find out more at www.bambee.com.

-The Bambee Team

What is a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit?

Termination

Firing an employee is not something that any HR team or business owner enjoys doing, but sometimes it is necessary to fire an employee in order to build the company and focus on the future.  However, there is always the risk of a lawsuit for wrongful termination.  The process of a wrongful termination lawsuit can be a nightmare for any business.

Wrongful Termination Lawsuits

  1. The wrongful termination.  Once an employee is terminated, they can sue for any number of reasons. For example,  you can be sued for implying to your former employee that he or she will not be fired; discrimination related to race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, or for any disability; retaliation of the employee’s rights and whistleblowing.  Every state has different rules, which may be different from federal rules. 
  2. Are you at risk?  One of the first things you need to ask yourself should be “Is my business or organization at risk for wrongful termination lawsuit?”  Before you try and answer, there are some things you need to know.  You can be sued for a number of reasons, including violating anti-discrimination laws, sexual harassment, not following through on written or oral agreements, or breaking labor laws.  There are a number of ways a company can be sued after firing an employee, so it’s important to think through the firing carefully and consult with a lawyer just in case.
  3. They’re costly.  The average cost to fight a wrongful termination lawsuit is $250,000, and there are a number of additional costs involved with firing and rehiring a replacement.   In addition, if your company is deemed liable or found to have violated any labor law, then you can most certainly bet that you will pay much more.

  4. What all can the fired employee be compensated for?  This can be something that varies from case to case.  You could be accountable for paying any benefits lost, possible pay compensation, punitive costs, emotional distress, and most importantly, the fees it took to hire the lawyer.  It is wise for you (the owner) or any HR team to weight the benefits when it comes to firing an employee.
  5. They’re time-intensive.  If you thought your 10 hour day the other week was long, then brace yourself; the wrongful termination lawsuit process will be lengthy.  Why is this?  Your former employee obviously noticed something in your firing process that indicated that you may have done something incorrectly.  This means you will need to gather all documentation and start fine tuning any piece of documentation to support your firing decision.  Time spent on this process is money lost.
  6. Settlement costs are high. One out of ten wrongful termination lawsuits end in million dollar settlements. For the rest, the average costs are $40,000 to settle a wrongful termination case. This is just the settlement money paid to the plaintiff, which is in addition to costs related to defending against the lawsuit.
  7. How could you lose?  There are various ways in which you can lose a wrongful termination lawsuit and it all comes down to your documentation.  As a business owner or HR team, it is vital that everything is documented accurately and effectively so that risk to the business is low. Unsure of how to document? See which corrective action process is right for your business.

Bambee helps make sure your business is protected from wrongful termination lawsuits by helping your company’s managers give you the documentation and insight you need about employee performance and behavior. Find out more at www.bambee.com.

-The Bambee Team