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 Law 101: The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), signed into law in May 2008, prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against job applicants or employees based on their genetic information in hiring, firing, compensation or any other terms of employment.

Two employees ask their boss to ax the company Christmas tree. A worker refuses to trim his dreadlocks, saying they are essential to his practice of Rastafari. A cashier insists she has a right to tell customers, “Have a blessed day.” Those cases have all wound up being tried in court. Employers can't treat employees differently because of their religion, but that doesn't mean religious accommodation is easy.

Q. We have an employee who claims to be a witch. She contends that witchcraft is her religion and has asked for certain holidays off. Are we required to accommodate this employee’s request?

The cost cutting and staff reductions may not be completely over, but as the economy begins its recovery, HR will be dealing with new challenges in 2010. Here are 10 trends to expect in the coming year, plus tips and tools to help you respond to each:

Q. Can we legally set a mandatory retirement age for our workers?

Say you manage Kevin, a 55-year-old employee whose productivity drops over the year. Instead of citing specific, measurable examples of this decline in his performance review, you note that "Kevin doesn't seem to have the energy level anymore to truly succeed in this department." Still, you rate Kevin's work as "average," the same as last year. That example highlights two of the more common—and legally dangerous—pitfalls in writing performance reviews:

Think your next generation of managers will come from your rank-and-file workers? Don’t be so sure. Surprisingly, 49% of employees with the experience to become managers say they don’t want any part of a managerial role. Why?

Ask senior executives to decode leadership for you and you’ll probably get a long, useless list of qualities. For this reason, three students of management set about grouping together what happens when leadership happens:

Sometimes, employers have to fire employees—even those who have recently filed successful discrimination complaints. Don’t be afraid to do so. You can beat a bogus retaliation claim by making sure you have good, solid documentation to substantiate the firing.

Before you fire any employee, double-check to make sure others who performed just as poorly or made similar mistakes were also terminated. Doing so may prevent a lawsuit … or, if you are sued, at least provide evidence that you treat everyone alike.

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