Small companies often don’t have large HR staffs or an in-house attorney. Outside consultants who specialize in the tricky business ofcan help small employers when it’s time to let go of an individual employee or implement a larger layoff.
The benefit is that you get an outsider’s perspective on your decision-making.
But before you act on outside advice, do make sure you provide all the relevant information to the consultant. If you rely on recommendations based on too little information, the employee may sue. If you lose, you may have to go after the consultant to recoup your loss. And that’s where the question of whether you provided all the relevant information will pop up.
Recent case: Jennifer, who worked for a New York retailer, was pregnant and used up her 12 weeks of. The company wanted to terminate Jennifer and sought advice from National Employers’ Council, an HR outsourcing and consulting firm. The retailer claimed it got approval for the termination and that the consultant said it violated no employment laws.
Jennifer sued for various pregnancy claims, but settled with the company.
The employer then sued National Employers’ Council for giving bad advice. The consultants have now sought extensive discovery, alleging that the retailer didn’t provide all the relevant facts when it sought Jennifer’s dismissal.
The case will now grind on, with each side alleging that the other didn’t provide enough information. (Gerszberg v. National Employers’ Council, No. 157859/2014, Supreme Court, New York County, 2015)