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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HR professionals must make sure that supervisors hear this message loud and clear: Don’t make any assumptions about what a pregnant woman can or cannot do. Voicing such presumptions and taking action based on them virtually guarantees a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit.

Offering an employee a severance payment in exchange for releasing any legal claims won’t be used against you. Courts want to encourage dispute settlement—and if severance offers could be used against employers later in court, cases would rarely be settled.

Sometimes, you have to take a chance on a job applicant because the candidate pool isn’t filled with as much talent as you would like. Everyone knows picking a marginal candidate can turn out to be a mistake. If you find you have to terminate such an employee, have the same person who made the hiring decision also make the termination decision. That reduces the chance of a costly discrimination lawsuit ...

Employees who sue for discrimination have to come up with some evidence before the case can advance beyond the initial stages—and before it gets progressively more expensive for employers paying the legal bill. Employers that fight back right away with statistics showing there was no discrimination can save big bucks in the long run.

If you pay commissions under a written compensation plan that covers commissions earned only while the employee works for your company, be careful how you handle terminations—and discussion concerning payment of further commissions. In some circumstances, you could inadvertently create additional liability for unpaid commissions ...

Employees sometimes assume that if their employer approves a request for disability leave, they must be disabled and are therefore entitled to reasonable accommodations when they return to work. That’s simply not the case. Many times, what’s called “disability leave” is really FMLA leave, based on the employee’s serious health condition. But those conditions are frequently temporary and wouldn’t qualify as a disability under the ADA.

As the recession continues, many employers have had to turn to reductions in force as an unfortunate yet necessary cost-saving measure. Count on some of those former employees to sue. Employers considering implementing RIFs must understand the legal and practical issues that can trap the unwary. Taking these four steps can minimize the risks of lawsuits:

Some employees who break rules believe they’re immune from firing if someone else committed the same infraction and didn’t get fired. That’s simply not true. What may be a firing offense for one employee doesn’t have to be the last straw for every other employee. The key is to document—at the time—why you made the decision so you can later explain the difference between the two situations.

Q. We’re a nine-physician medical clinic, and we employ a salaried business manager. Her duties include personnel, hiring, firing and office work. We don’t give her comp time or overtime pay. If she takes a partial day off, she must use vacation time (paid time off). Are we handling this correctly?

Some employees get mad when they learn they’re being terminated. Some may even try to abscond with valuable company property or records as a way to retaliate for losing their jobs. That’s why employers should take reasonable measures to protect records and property—even if that means escorting the fired employee out of the building and preventing access to work spaces and equipment.

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