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!

If you’re serious about wiping out sexual and other forms of harassment in your workplace, consider adopting a zero-tolerance policy for failing to report suspected or known harassment. By readily disciplining those who ignore that rule, you can create a new climate in which employees really believe you take harassment seriously.

Q. We’re closing our doors and firing all of our employees. As president, I am considering not paying my employees their final paychecks, even though they have earned that pay. Is this a risk?

Best Buy, the nation’s largest electronics retailer, will cut an undisclosed number of jobs at its Richfield headquarters. The news comes after 500 employees already left under a voluntary buyout program.

Tell managers and supervisors not to embellish the reasons for discharging an employee. If they do, they risk the potential for a defamation lawsuit. That may be true even if the former employee is compelled to repeat the allegedly false information.

The downturn has hit California hard. Many stable California employers find themselves for the first time contemplating reductions in force in order to survive. If you’re considering a large-scale layoff, be prepared to familiarize yourself with California’s version of the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act.

Q. We fired a part-time employee for stealing a gift card out of the trash. We have a policy against taking anything of value out of the garbage. The next day, his supervisor announced to everyone that the employee had been fired for theft. I don’t think it was appropriate to tell others the reason. Was it? And what should we say if someone calls for a reference?

Before firing any employee who has filed a harassment complaint, make sure your reasons are solid—and extremely well documented. That means checking to make sure supervisors followed company rules. Ensure that other employees with similar records were also fired. And be sure all documentation you are relying on was clearly created before the discrimination complaint.

The FMLA grants eligible employees the right to take time off to deal with their own or a covered relative’s serious health condition. What has been unclear until now is what happens when an employee rushes to the emergency room believing a true medical emergency exists, only to find out that the condition was less serious than originally believed.

Sometimes, employers conducting harassment investigations find themselves in no-win situations, especially when there are conflicting claims and classic “he said, she said” scenarios. You risk a lawsuit if you fire the alleged harasser, most likely alleging some other illegal reason for your decision to terminate. The way to win these cases: Thoroughly document the investigation.

There’s a silver lining to the rising number of employment lawsuits: Courts are losing patience with applicants, employees and former employees who file discrimination lawsuits that have no basis in reality. Recently, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals approved sanctions against such employees and their attorneys.