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Why should employers have a clear grievance procedure?

On Behalf of | Aug 9, 2020 | Employment Law

When an employee is not performing well or is otherwise causing problems, Sherwood area employers may assume that because they are in an “at-will” state, they can simply fire the employee, especially if they have a good reason for doing so. However, even in “at-will” states like Oregon, simply firing an employee without first taking steps to remedy the problem without resorting to immediate termination can still expose the employer to the potential of litigation.

For this reason, it is important to have a standard grievance procedure to handle issues that come up with employees before resorting to termination. Grievance procedures give employers a means to stop unacceptable behaviors in the workplace, and they can provide a means for addressing these problems in a fair and effective manner.

Grievance procedure basics

Grievance procedures differ from company to company, but in general grievance procedures should outline whether grievances should be verbal or in writing, as well as including a response time for the addressing the issue. Grievance procedures should include whether certain issues need to be escalated to upper management. Unacceptable workplace behaviors should also be laid out, so employees are made aware of what behaviors are acceptable. Grievance procedures should treat all employees the same and should be consistent in nature.

Leave a paper trail

It is important to keep a paper trail of all steps taken in the grievance process should an employee cause problems that affect the business. If the situation escalates to a lawsuit, having a written record of events can prove to be valuable to employers.

Don’t act before seeking legal advice

Ultimately, grievance procedures protect both employees and employers. It may be easy to assume that there is no risk in firing an employee in an “at-will” state, but this is often not the case. Attorney Randy J. Harvey can provide sound advice to small business owners who are facing the prospect of firing an employee and want to handle the matter appropriately.