Many employers have so-called “orientation” or introductory periods.  These are typically 30, 60 or 90 day periods following the onset of employment.  Handbooks often describe these orientations as an opportunity for the employee to get to know the company, and vice versa.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking it is less risky to terminate an employee during this period of time.  It’s not.

Unless they are covered by a contract providing for something other than at-will employment, employees are considered “at-will,” meaning both they and the employer can terminate the employment relationship at any time and for any reason — except for an illegal one (e.g., discrimination).  And there’s the rub.  The legality exception to at-will employment applies to all employees, even your newbies.  Thus, if you are looking to terminate someone in their orientation period, tread just as carefully as you would with any employee.  Make sure the decision is legitimate and not based on any illegal factors (even such as absenteeism due to a medical condition – think ADA coverage).

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