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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2009 was a watershed year for disability discrimination. The EEOC received a record number of disability-related charges – 21,451. What’s the reason for the spike in discrimination claims? The Americans With Disabilities Act Amendment Act. With the EEOC in charge of suing to force compliance, you need to know the answers to these eight questions.

As we enter a new decade, HR must pay more attention than ever to employment law issues. Reason: new laws taking effect, increased agency enforcement, more lawsuits spurred by a poor economy and an activist Congress. Here are 10 key trends and how to respond:

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.

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:

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.

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.

Even an exhaustive investigation into sexual harassment allegations may not provide enough information to conclusively determine whether harassment actually occurred. That doesn’t mean you can forget the whole thing. Instead, you must explain to the employee who reported the problem what steps you did take. And you must urge her to report any action she believes is retaliation.

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.

When a supervisor allegedly harasses a subordinate, all kinds of things can go wrong. But handled improperly, all fingers often point to employer liability. That’s why it’s vital to act quickly on any subordinate complaint.

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.

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