All employees at the asset-management unit of Aviva PLC, Britain's second-largest insurance company, were mistakenly sent an email which said , 'I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and wish you all the best for the future.' Many of the employees thought that they had just been fired by email. This story became news around the world. In reality, the employee was not fired by email, but had been laid off and the email was a follow-up message. Quickly, the manager realized what had happened and recalled the email. An apology email was sent. The costs - both human and financial - of a poorly handled termination can be extremely high. The rise in wrongful termination suits is due, at least in part, to mismanagement of the termination process. When asked, many terminated employees report that they sued their former employer because of the way they were treated, rather than for any financial gain. Regulations that apply to termination include: Age Discrimination in Employment Act Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Civil Rights Act Title VII, Civil Rights Act of 1991 Fair Labor Standards Act Family and Medical Leave Act Immigration Reform and Control Act National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) Pregnancy Discrimination Act When a terminated employee sues the organization, both parties lose. For the organization, the loss includes legal fees, time and energy of key personnel, internal morale, and external public relations. The terminated employee loses time and energy that could have been directed to the job search. Termination Action Plan Once the decision to terminate an employee has been made, the manager should develop an action plan. A pre-termination planning decision to release an employee, who no longer fits the organization's needs, enhances an organization's development objectives. Schedule the termination as soon as possible. Move as quickly as possible to a termination date. List the resource people (for example, human resources (HR) representative, lawyer, and outplacement consultant) available to provide support or assistance in the termination. A HR representative can outline the terms of the severance. Also, he or she can serve as a witness to what was actually said during the termination conference. An outplacement consultant assists the terminated employee in conducting an effective job search. As a result of this service, outplaced employees make a career transition more rapidly, with less overall stress, and have a distinct advantage over non-outplaced job seekers. The organization benefits from reduced severance packages, reduced likelihood of lawsuits, maintenance of morale and productivity of remaining employees, and increased community support for the actions of the organization. Outline the primary reasons for the termination. Explain the reasons for the termination clearly, concisely, and candidly. In addition to performance issues, reasons for the termination might include change in strategic direction, mismatch between skills and job, reorganization, new technology, or change in ownership. Develop a security strategy. If the individual has access to sensitive information, take precautions. For example, change computer passwords and secure documents. Arrange for the individual to separate out, under supervision, personal effects from organization property. Personal effects can be forwarded after a qualified person has had the opportunity to evaluate their contents. Point out that these actions are designed to protect the individual as well as the organization, so that no one can be falsely accused of removing confidential documents. Determine time and location. If the termination is held in the individual's office or in a neutral location, not your office, you can control the length of the meeting and avoid a prolonged discussion or debate. Plan internal and external announcements. Determine how the news will be communicated inside and outside the organization. A formal internal announcement concerning the departure and replacement of the employee is appropriate. Notify key external suppliers and/or customers with whom the individual had regular contact of the individual's replacement. Should employees always be terminated in face-to-face meetings? OR should email be used? Explain.