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How to Terminate an Employee Without Cause in Wisconsin

Your business relies on top-notch employees to provide the best service and support. With the best employees, you can take your business to the next level. Unfortunately, sometimes employees do not work out. When you have an employee who is not performing to your standards, you need to know what to do to resolve the issue. In today’s environment, employers cannot wait to make changes. You need to take immediate steps to terminate employees who are not up to par. Before you fire someone, you must know how to do it without breaking any laws or causing any litigation.

Wisconsin is an Employment At Will State

Wisconsin follows the employment at will doctrine. Employment at will means that employers and employees can end their working relationship at any time and for any reason. Unless an employee has a specific contract with different terms, an employer can terminate a worker whenever they want. At the same time, an employee is also under no obligation to remain at the company and can quit when they please. Employment at will applies to most people unless there is a contract or employment agreement in place. If so, the agreement takes precedence and employers and employees must follow the contract.

Terminate an Employee for Any Reason

You do not need to have a specific reason to terminate an employee. Employees and employers can end their employment at any time and without notice. When you terminate an employee, you will want to take care to do so in private, but with another person present as a witness. Provide the employee with any typical termination paperwork. You will want to pay them for their time worked. You can discuss the reason for termination if you like, but you do not have to.

If the employee was a good worker, you can offer a reference letter, but again, you are under no obligation to do so. The employee should leave the premises immediately after termination. Firing an employee is something you should do with another person present as a witness. If you have a human resources department, include the manager or another manager in the meeting. Make notes after the meeting and keep the employee’s file and records.

Exceptions to Employment At Will

There are several things to consider when deciding to terminate an employee. You need to make sure that the employee is not part of a protected group. You cannot fire someone because of discrimination, such as race, religion, gender, disability, and more. To prevent problems, you should always document problems with an employee. This enables you to provide proof that the employee was fired because of performance and not because of discrimination. Those who are part of a union are protected by their union contract and you must abide by the specific rules therein. You can make a contract with an employee to give protection to both the employer and employee. Employment contracts essentially override termination without cause and you must follow the terms of the agreement when handling employment matters.

Wrongful discharge can lead to lengthy and expensive consequences. Prevent problems by seeking legal guidance before making termination decisions. Contact our employment law attorneys online at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. or call (608) 784-8310.

Published August 9, 2022
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