No employee should be terminated after the first week of December until after New Years. This is because any employer who fires an employee during this period will be the embodiment of Scrooge in the eyes of a jury.
There’s really no acceptable reason for an employee to get terminated during this holiday time period, outside of theft. And even then, if the employee was stealing in order to put food in the mouth of Tiny Tim, the employee still gets a pass.
In other words, no terminations during December. Period. If the employee does something so incomprehensibly bad that they must be kept away from work, such as sexually assaulting another employee or stealing cash out of another employee’s purse, then a smart employer will simply keep the employee away from work through New Years. The employee is put on administrative leave and dealt with on the first workday of the New Year.
For some employers “The holidays” begins with Halloween and ends New Years Day. I think that’s too expansive. People get truly angry and direct their outrage toward a company that terminates an employee without warning right before the Christmas/Hanukkah holidays. And by “people” I mean EEOC investigators, lawyers for employees, and especially, juries.
Now here’s the thing with the “No Holiday-Time Terminations” rule: it doesn’t make good bosses appear bad; it reveals a boss’ true colors, good or bad. A good boss won’t terminate an employee just before Christmas/Hanukkah, and a good boss naturally understands why doing so would make him look like a Scrooge.
A bad boss, on the other hand, doesn’t understand what the big deal is about holiday-time terminations. A bad boss thinks Scrooge was just trying to be a responsible businessman, but caved in to sentimentality at the end of “A Christmas Carol”.
Some bad bosses, and very bad HR people, actually argue that a company is doing an employee a favor by not waiting and by firing the employee right before Christmas. (If you don’t believe me just look here). The reasoning, flawed as it may be, is that the employee will run up a credit card balance when buying presents for their kids. Such an employee, the thinking goes, would prefer to be terminated before running up their credit card bills over the holidays.
This thinking assumes that seeing your kids with no presents at Christmas isn’t that bad so long as you don’t have a balance on your credit card. Really? This line of thinking is idiocy.
Every parent I know would be more likely to use credit cards for their kids’ Christmas presents if the parent lost their job. This is because, to normal human beings, having your kids wake up on Christmas morning and find no presents under the tree is absolutely unthinkable.
A bad boss, however, justifies their self-centered desire to fire an employee during the holidays by using crazy thinking like “employees would rather be fired so they don’t buy presents on credit.” A boss who says this actually just wants to have the employee gone so that the boss doesn’t have to think about terminating the employee during the boss’s own Christmas holiday.
Such breath taking self centeredness, especially during “the most wonderful time of the year” makes this type of boss look so evil that it is easy for a jury or EEOC investigator to believe your boss is discriminating on the basis of some protected class. And when a jury believes that, you win.
In summary: Holiday-Time Termination + Angry Jury = You Win Big
Have you ever seen someone fired at Christmas time or Hanukkah? Do you think a Holiday-Time termination can *ever* be justified? Let us know in the comments below.