I was just hired as HR Generalist/department of one/first HR hire for a small start-up. First week in and I find out that previous COO is in rehab and has made some some egregious promises around comp, additional benefits to EEs, and also made some decisions that cost the company a significant amount of money. Company has offered to pay for 2 months leave. Now it seems like owner and other execs do not want this person to return. What do I need to consider regarding termination? Is ADA at play?

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Sounds like you need to ask for a significant increase in pay and a title change for taking all of that bs on. I’m sure they didn’t disclose any of that.

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That’s terrible

You need to consider if he’s eligible for FMLA which provides job protection for 12 weeks. If he qualifies, they really should not term him until that time expires. He should be eligible for STD if company-provided or elected under voluntary benefit as well.

Terminating him/her while they are out ill can lead to a wrongful termination suit so make sure you gather all the facts on what government protections they have. Yes, ADA may come into play too

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I am not in CA. We are under 50 employees so FMLA is not in play. He elected not to apply for STD but I feel like it should be recommended at this point.

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Don't touch this without legal counsel.

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You need to get legal involved.

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I know this is unsolicited advice, but you should get out of that company if you can. I’ve worked for a company that had “interesting” agreements with employees. Chances are, those decisions were well known by executive management. It sounds like they might be using this COO as a scapegoat. However, if they get rid of the COO, chances are there will still be a mess to clean up. Do you think those employees will stay if they aren’t given what was promised? So either you will have a lot of positions to fill or you’ll be setting precedent by fulfilling the previously promised terms. Were these terms included in offer letters?

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So I should clarify that I am not being tasked with the COO termination. It was brought up in a meeting with the current COO and our legal counsel as a discussion, and no decisions were made. I truly don’t think that others knew of the arrangements as the responsibilities were fairly segregated at the top, and HR decisions were getting made all over the place which is why I was brought in.

None of the terms were outlined in offer letters, they were verbal agreements. We are working on developing policies to basically meet everyone halfway in terms of what was promised and what is feasible for the company.

I do appreciate the insight though, and my eyes and ears are definitely wide-open for any other red flags as I move through my first few weeks.

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Sounds like a hot mess. Good luck.

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Are they out on FMLA? If so their job is protected. You should get an employment attorney involved.

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And as a HR generalist you really can’t make that call unfortunately

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I’m thankfully not being asked to make a call on it, I’m just consulting from an HR perspective and want to make sure I’m covering my bases.

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