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To Dismiss or Not to Dismiss? You Better Think Well Before You Answer!

Whether you're an HR Generalist or a Specialist in a managerial or non-managerial capacity in your organisation, it is of key importance for you to educate yourself on your local labour laws. This will help you to steer away from rushing into making uneducated decisions that might expose your organisation to unnecessary legal risks.

One of the most prominent risks you face is being accused of arbitrary or unlawful dismissal. Such accusation comes with a host of undesirable impacts on the organisation like reputation damage in the market with the public (your customers) and the labour authorities, to the loss of credibility internally (with your team members) to name a few.

No one would like to put their organisation through such painful endeavours, and educating yourself on labour laws isn't always enough as sometimes your really end up putting your organisation in such situations unintentionally. That mostly happens when no proper due diligence takes place, and by due diligence I mean formally consulting with your legal department or contracted law firm even if things look very clear to you. It is the lawyers' job to look for possible loopholes in your case and advise you whether or not to proceed with the dismissal.

I've had a case a few years back where a manager physically and verbally assaulted a team member in the presence of other colleagues.

When I watched the security footage from the incident, it was too obvious to even dispute and I thought it was a clear deed of gross misconduct which granted an immediate dismissal on spot as per that country's labour law, however, I still quickly checked with our law firm in that country to ensure that we can legally dismiss him and I got my confirmation.

When I proceeded with processing the dismissal, the manager refused to sign the papers and said that he will complain to the labour office. As confident as I was with the proof I had and the legal confirmation I got to proceed, I laid it to him as a done deal and told him to proceed as he pleases.

Over the coming days the manager did file a lawsuit against our company on the grounds of arbitrary dismissal, but I did not think much of it because I had enough proof to dismiss his claims. As with any legal proceedings, it was painful and lengthy, but the employee eventually lost the case as we had all our facts together as well as the professional legal advice required.

Things didn't always go as well when we thought we had the required evidence and refrained from taking a legal advice before proceeding with a dismissal. This is not to say that you should refrain from sharing your professional opinion when needed, it is just to say that it's better to seek an opinion from a subject matter expert when making such decisions.

People can always sue you by law, no one can stop them! However, when you've done your due diligence properly, the likelihood of them winning a lawsuit and you exposing your organisation to a sizable risk becomes very minimal.

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