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Unfortunately, her supervisor never seriously It’s important throughout this process to keep
addressed or documented the issue. He often
a detailed file of all communications pertaining
requested that she make changes and reminded
to an employee’s performance. These records
her that she needed to provide the financials
should be as specific as possible and include dates,
by the end of the month. The employee
circumstances, expectations for improvement, and
acknowledged the problem but never improved.
next steps. Always make sure to document facts,
not emotions. Working through this process with
The employee then announced to her supervisor
input from the HR team and/or company attorney
that she was pregnant. After ongoing performance
will demonstrate that all efforts were made to
issues, the supervisor had become more frustrated
and was ready to terminate the employee.
address the issue and provide the employee with a
fair opportunity to rectify his or her performance.
Question: Is the supervisor in a safe position to
terminate this employee?
In summary, terminating an employee is a difficult
task that requires following a well-documented
Courts acknowledge that employers can
process. Using the progressive disciplinary process
address performance issues even for pregnant
as a guide, an employer can clearly communicate
employees. However, managers should proceed
with an employee about performance issues and
with caution by first consulting with the HR ways of correcting the situation. If termination is
department or company attorney for assistance.
the ultimate outcome, the company will be in a
Otherwise, embarking upon disciplinary action or
better position to defend its position about the
termination procedures could result in a pregnancy
specific performance issues where it can show it
discrimination charge or lawsuit.
communicated/counseled the employee when
faced with a charge or lawsuit.
If the employer had utilized a progressive
disciplinary process and documented counseling
statements and coaching sessions with the
Nafeza Deen is a team manager in the Washington, D.C.
employee prior to the pregnancy announcement,
offices of Administaff. Administaff is the nation’s leading
the employer would be in a better position to deal
professional employer organization (PEO), serving as a full-
with the ongoing performance issues. A counseling
service human resources department for small- and medium-
statement serves as notice to the employee of the
sized businesses. For more information about Administaff, call
observed performance issues, the expectations
800-465-3800 or visit
for improvement, and the consequences for
not improving—including the possibility of
 ThinkBusiness April 2009 
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