Employment litigation is a serious matter for any small business. When you have a current or former employee who is making claims against your company, it can cast a negative light on the business even if you didn't do anything wrong. One area where you have to be especially careful is when you have to terminate someone. This event brings up very negative feelings for the person who is being let go.
Protecting your company when you fire an employee starts with planning the termination meeting. One thing that can help you is to have a witness in the room when you give the worker the news. You should also ensure that the reasons for the termination are well-documented.
Pennsylvania is an at-will employment state, so you technically don't need a reason to terminate an employee unless there is an employment contract in place. Despite this fact, it is a good idea to have the issues documented so that the employee can't claim that discrimination or retaliation was the basis of the termination. Both retaliation and discrimination are illegal reasons to fire an employee.
You also have to ensure that you are handling the pay for the terminated individual appropriately. It is a good idea to have this information with you at the termination meeting so that you can let the employee know what to expect.
Finally, ensure that you aren't releasing information about the termination. Confidentiality might not be required by law in all cases, but keeping things private can greatly help the image that your company is presenting to the public.
If you do face any legal action due to a termination, ensure that you explore your rights and know what options you have. These can vary greatly, and you need to make the decisions that are best for your company.