25413770_sWhen an employee is terminated for cause, it only means one thing: he has done something that may or may not be necessarily illegal or is most probably unethical.

Such acts that fall into this category are embezzlement, fraud, lying about qualifications or references in employment application, theft, property damage, willful disclosure of sensitive and confidential information to the company’s competition, insubordination, watching pornography while at work, violating company policies, failure to perform assigned duties — all can be considered grounds for termination for cause.

An employee handbook should spell out the company’s mission statement and acceptable rules and regulations. This handbook must leave nothing unsaid regarding acceptable and unacceptable employee behavior. There should be room for communication between employer and employees to gain a better insight into each other.

The “learning curve” each employee goes through until he becomes proficient in his job may take a few weeks to a few months. This is the time to further verify his qualifications, especially if the work he produces does not reflect the kind of performance expected of him.

Even after an employee has decided to quit the job, and has given his employer the requisite two weeks’ notice, he still can be fired for cause. Employment is considered at will, if an employer has the feeling that the employee — who has just given notice of quitting — is no longer reliable, the employee can be terminated for cause. Even if there is an employment contract in force, actions that are deemed in violation of the contract, can void it, leading to termination for cause. If employees are working as members of a union and are covered under the union contract, they have more options to grieve the decision to fire them. The end result may be the same, but it is more likely that a union member will have the feeling that all has been done to prevent his firing.

Employers cannot fire someone based on their race, gender, national origin, age, as a way to retaliate for conflicts with the employee, or personal issues with employee. These actions on the part of the employer are deemed illegal, and can be the grounds for an employee lawsuit against the company.

How might a background check company have prevented the need to terminate an employee for cause?

Every potential employee should be checked out by a background check company, to verify their work history and references. Their personal credit histories and all due diligence should be used to ascertain the character of the potential employee. The reality is that even with fully investigating an employee’s history, there are no 100% guarantees of the employee’s character. Just because an employee has not violated a past employer’s code of ethics, does not necessarily mean that the new employer is safe from the potential employee engaging in activities that will cause them to be terminated for cause down the road.

That is why a background check should not be the only screening an employer does before hiring an employee. It should just be the first step, followed by a Human Resources investigation, then if all passes, schedule a face to face interview. A trial period where the new employee is carefully monitored, both in actions and work production should be instituted, carefully noting any irregularities in the employee’s work production. There is plenty of corporate pilfering that goes on in large companies. That is why it’s a good idea to limit access to company secrets to employees until they have passed their probationary periods.

Take that first step today and do an employee check on your potential hires with QBC — America’s leading and quickest source for Internet background checks. Be sure to know more about how applicant pre-employment screening is done, so you can decide for yourself!