Ethical And Legal Aspects Associated With Termination In The Workplace


            Generally speaking, employment termination is the conclusion of the employer-employee relationship. This decision may be reached at by the employer, employee or both through some form of a mutual agreement. In this text I will discuss  the moral as well as the ethical issues faced by managers with regard to termination of employment at the workplace as well as the relationship between social issues and ethically responsible management practices related to the topic. I will also provide a workplace example of an ethical dilemma and state the legal aspects the management faced during this dilemma. Lastly, I will look at the legalities that governed or should have governed the decision.

The moral and ethical issues managers face

            According to Caisley (2008), there are two forms of termination, that is, voluntary termination and involuntary termination. In  both cases, managers are faced with a wide range of moral as well as moral issues. However, as Perritt (2001) notes, there are more ethical and moral issues faced by managers when it comes to involuntary termination. Involuntary termination is basically the departure of an employee at the workplace which is initiated by the employer. First, in some cases the management may be unsure on whether top pay the employee his or her benefits. This are in such cases as when the employee is dismissed for theft of company funds. Some at the management level may feel that it is wise to offset what the company has lost using the employees unpaid dues. Others may feel that the company should part with what it owes the employee no matter the circumstances that informed the termination.

Caisley (2008) argues that termination may limit the chances of an employee get in a job in future. This is why some companies ask the employee concerned to resign instead. Termination eventually leads to some unexplained gaps in an employees resume and this may in a big way inhibit his or her chances of being hired in future hence jeopardize the employees career. This is hence an inevitable dilemma that the management has to face when it comes to termination of employment.

Termination also ends up affecting the employee both economically and psychologically. Some managers may want to consider that the employee has a family and other dependants to take care of and hence termination may mean all those who depend on the employee concerned will, suffer in one way or the other. As Perritt (2001), notes, this is a real moral issues that haunts most managers as they make a decision regarding termination.

A workplace example

In the advent of technology, many companies have had to dismiss their employees either after some employees become redundant or after their skills are no longer viable given the prevailing circumstances (Grogan 2007). A similar dilemma faced Mathis et al. (2008) company in the year 1996. The management foresaw the need to cut costs and for this to happen it was prudent to embrace technology. The only problem posed by fully embracing technology was that some workers would be left redundant at the end of the day hence calling for massive layoffs. The ethical dilemma the management faced in this case was how it s going to fire a large number of employees whom had over the years been loyal to the company. Furthermore, this employees had families and it was clear their laying off would cause them both economic as well as psychological torture. There was also the possibility of a public outcry which if it came to pass would possibly impact negatively on the company’s bottom line. However, this was a decision the company had to take so as to remain viable in the market place where stiff competition was eating away its profits and hence it had to find ways to be more efficient as well as cut costs.

The legal aspects the management faced during this dilemma was whether this was indeed a viable or valid reason for termination of employment for all those who would be affected as well as how it was going to communicate this to the affected employees without triggering unrest throughout the company.    It is important to note that both of these were legal steps that were to be considered before e the company made the final decision. The legalities that should have governed the decision include but are not limited to; just and reasonable cause of dismissal and a that the reason for dismissal need to have been a genuine case of redundancy. It need not be lost here that this two legalities were observed in the formulation of the decision


It is important to note that managers need to observe al,l the legalities with regard to decisions informing terminations. This averts any possibility of future claims that point towards unfair dismissals. This claims may require the employer to reinstate those whose termination did not follow due process.


Caisley, K.T. (2008). Termination of Employment: A Best Practice Guide. CCH New Zealand Limited

Grogan, J. (2007). Workplace law. Juta

Mathis, R.L., & Jackson, J.H. (2008). Human resource management, 12th Edition. Cengage Learning,

Perritt, H.H. (2001). Civil rights in the workplace. 3rd Edition. Aspen Publishers Online

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