Mass Employee Firings via Zoom:
I have always advised my business clients who were contemplating terminating an employee (or group of employees via a reduction in force) to treat the employee(s) with dignity and respect. I explained that this was important, not just because it was the “right thing to do” from a human perspective, but because I have seen that how a company treats a worker who is on the way out the door could determine whether that person will seek a legal challenge to its business decision.
Most business decisions to terminate an employee are predicated on multifaceted and nuanced factors that are not transparent to the employee. It should be emphasized that I am not referring to those decisions that are based on clearly illegal reasons (i.e., discrimination or retaliation).
When a company terminates an employee without a clear explanation (i.e, justifiable business contraction or reorganization; failure to meet the objective performance benchmarks of the position), many employees will see this as unfair and legally actionable. In a world where most employment is “at will” a company may not believe that there is a need to provide explanation or justification.
But I continue to advise that the one on one exit interview is key to making the employee understand that their service was valued and/or there might be a way for that employee to improve their performance or skills for their next position. I believe this softer landing will diffuse much of the anger and resentment that could propel the employee to pursue litigation.
As the below Forbes article notes, WW’s (formerly known as Weight Watchers) group Zoom firings were the perfect example of how to disrespect loyal employees. Undoubtedly, this could prove bad for brand image, employee morale and could inspire some employees to seek legal recourse, even if ultimately unsuccessful.
This bad decision could be quite costly.