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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Sometimes employees believe that reporting potential wrongdoing by their employers or fellow employees means they can’t be punished. In effect, the assumption is that being a whistle-blower gives them a pass and protects them from adverse employment actions, such as termination. That’s simply not true.

If an employer decides to deny a fringe benefit to an employee, and the employee challenges the decision, courts must at least consider the possibility that a conflict of interest exists. That’s because anytime an employer decides to provide a benefit, that benefit comes at a cost.

If you have a robust anti-harassment policy and act fast to stop co-worker sexual harassment, you usually won’t be liable for that harassment. But that doesn’t mean you must automatically fire everyone who harasses a co-worker. You can use a more measured approach, including warnings and counseling. If that doesn’t work, then it may be time to terminate the perpetrator.

Here’s a rule of thumb to follow: An alleged harasser should have no part in a later termination decision involving his or her accuser. Giving the alleged harasser any role in the firing is almost certain to spur a retaliation lawsuit, even if it turns out the harassment claim doesn’t stick.

Are you planning a reduction in force due to the poor economy? If so, double-check who is going to lose their jobs, paying particular attention to whether the burden falls predominantly on workers over age 40. If that is the case, make absolutely certain you have legitimate business reasons to back up your decision to fire them.

Employees who run out of FMLA leave and are fired under a policy requiring mandatory dismissal for excessive absences may be invited to apply for other open positions when they recover enough to work. Be careful how you handle those reapplications, especially if one of the terminated employees was off because she was pregnant and ran out of leave before being able to return.

Now that the Democrats have lost their 60-vote supermajority in the Senate, it will be that much more difficult for the Obama administration to make good on many of its pro-employee campaign promises. But this still could be a key year for Democratic plans to revamp our national employment laws. Here are seven key initiatives pending in Congress and what they could mean for your business if they become law.

Suicide ranks as the 11th leading cause of death in the United States and it peaks around this time of year. So what do you do if you learn one of your employees brandished a gun and threatened suicide, but a doctor released him back to work in a week? Shouldn’t you be concerned about safety? One court warned, “a doctor’s note… is a doctor’s note” and terminating that worker could spark an ADA claim …

Employees sometimes think taking FMLA leave—or even just asking for the time off—protects them from being disciplined or discharged. But Congress never intended the FMLA to act as a shield against legitimate discipline that’s unrelated to the leave. That’s why you’re free to discipline or discharge employees if you can prove you would have taken the same action regardless of the FMLA leave or request.

The new FMLA regulations say employers can enforce their usual call-in rules, such as requiring employees to call in before missing a shift. That rule change made employers rejoice, assuming they could safely discharge employees who didn’t show up and didn’t call in. But a new case calls that assumption into question.