Firing

There’s danger in every aspect of firing, from WARN Act layoffs and exit interviews to constructive discharge and more.

Learn how to fire an employee and sidestep wrongful termination lawsuits, with battle-tested firing procedures, and employment termination letters. At last, you can fire at will!

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Can you fire a current employee who, during employment, is convicted of a crime? It’s still not clear that you can fire him because of that conviction. Until the law is clarified, consult your attorney before firing someone based on criminal records.

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) expresses a clear legislative intent to prohibit discrimination in all aspects of the employment relationship. However, the NJLAD allows employers to refuse to accept for employment or promote anyone over 70 years of age. The law does prohibit firing someone over 70 because of age. This exception was the subject of a recent New Jersey Supreme Court ruling.

Q. We have an employee who recently submitted an expense report for more than $1,300 for an extended business trip. We accidentally reimbursed him twice. He did not report the double payment and we did not learn of the mistake until an internal audit two months later. Our company policy prohibits dishonesty and we want to fire the worker for violating this rule. Will he be able to collect unemployment benefits? May we withhold the vacation pay that is due to him under our policy, which would just about make us whole?
Public employees are entitled to due process before they’re fired. But that’s a flexible standard that allows firing for “unacceptable personal conduct.”

Because Texas is an “at-will” state, employers are generally free to fire employees for any reason or no reason. Of course, firing employees under circumstances that would be illegal under any specific employment law won’t fly. But other than that, there is only one other discharge reason that puts employees outside at-will employment: Employers can’t fire employees for refusing to perform an illegal act.

In age discrimination cases, employees only have to show they were replaced by someone younger, or otherwise discharged because of age. You will have a much easier time showing that you had a legitimate reason unrelated to age for terminating the employee if you can cite specific business reasons to back up each part of your decision-making process.

You may be worrying too much about firing an employee right after she files a discrimination complaint! If you can easily show that you would have fired her regardless of her complaint, a court is unlikely to connect her complaint with your decision. And in Texas, timing alone isn’t enough to prove the firing was retaliation.

When someone gets fired because a co-worker complained about discrimination, other employees may get upset. Frequently, they don’t know the back story and may ostracize the employee who originally complained about discrimination. That’s especially true if the terminated employee was well liked. However, courts generally won’t consider it an adverse employment action if workers give the complaining employee the “silent treatment.”

Courts understand reductions in force and recognize that companies sometimes have to make tough decisions. When an employer can show it had good reasons for cutting employees through a RIF, affected employees will have to come up with solid discrimination evidence early in the litigation game.

Two employees of a Sprint store chased down and subdued a shoplifter even though they were on break at the time. Heroic? Yes. But also a violation of Sprint company policy, and both men were fired. Employers are within their rights to set such policies, but make sure you enforce such policies consistently to avoid discrimination claims.
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