Ask the Legal: Can an employer fire an employee who commits a serious work infraction even though it was a first offense?
The answer depends on a number of factors. For example, it is important to know whether the employee is covered by a collective bargaining agreement or another contract that may define the terms and conditions of his employment. However, where an employee is not covered by such agreements, it is possible for an employer to terminate an employee if the conduct was severe enough to warrant termination. While warning and proper documentation are always preferable before terminating an employee, there are times when the employee’s conduct is so egregious that it warrants immediate termination. Employers should have policies in place regarding conduct and discipline as well as a statement that reserves management’s right to make employment decisions in such situations.
As appeared in: Pittsburgh Business Times, 11/15/2013