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Does being an at-will dealership employer mean you can fire anyone at any time?

December 26, 2014 by Rebecca Ward

Dealers nationwide have suffered penalties from not following “just cause” when terminating employees. A corner-stone of traditional labor law, just cause has implications that warrant consideration; many dealers feel that they can simply terminate any employee if their business is in an at-will state, but sometimes that’s not true. Just cause is defined as a standard that employers must meet to justify termination.

Do you know what seven factors comprise just cause?

To protect yourself against being sued for terminating an employee without cause, consider the seven factors that comprise “just cause” prior to termination:

  1. The employee must know of the company policy.
  2. The company policy must be reasonable.
  3. The company thoroughly investigated that the employee violated the policy.
  4. The investigation was fair and objective.
  5. Substantial evidence existed demonstrating the policy violation.
  6. The company’s policy was consistently applied.
  7. The discipline was reasonable and proportional.

If a company cannot meet these factors, there is a greater chance that the grievance will be sustained.

Remember, if an at will employee is in a protected class category, or falls under any other categories, then the employee will have a better chance of disputing termination under grounds for unfair treatment.

Have questions on terminating employees? Contact your KPA Client Advocate or reach out to KPA at [email protected] or call 866-539-4718 for assistance.


Posted in: Human Resources Management Tags: at-will, cause, dealership, employee, employer, factors, just, seven, termination, without