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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Q. I am the owner of several industrial facilities, but recent financial crises have forced me to have to shut down two of these plants. These closings and subsequent layoffs will affect about 600 employees. Am I re­­quired to notify the employees before laying them off?
Sometimes, workplace relationships deteriorate beyond repair. That’s especially true if an employee resorts to angry outbursts or even threats. That’s when it’s time to act.
Sometimes, it seems as if anybody can sue their current or former em­­ployer and get a day in court. It’s true, anyone is welcome to fill out the blank complaint forms that courts make available to the public. But spurious complaints like this one are usually quickly dismissed.
If an employer can present a coherent and rational explanation for why economics—not retaliation—drove a RIF decision, chances are a court won’t second-guess it.
If a disabled employee is about to get the ax for reasons that have nothing to do with her condition, don’t make any comments about her health. Otherwise, it could look like you really fired her because she is disabled—and it could become the basis for a disability discrimination lawsuit.

Some jobs, both in government and in the private sector, require a security clearance from a government agency. Without the proper security clearance, employees aren’t allowed to view sensitive documents. In those cases, a lost security clearance can mean a lost job—with no ability to challenge the termination on discrimination grounds.

Offering the option to resign or retire instead of facing an investigation into alleged wrongdoing doesn’t always block a later lawsuit if the employee accepts—but it usually does. Be prepared to show the resignation or retirement was truly voluntary.
If your union contract has a “just cause” for termination clause, get the union’s sign-off on a covered employee’s last chance agreement.

Sometimes, employees can only imagine that discrimination or retaliation is to blame for their sudden unemployment. If you had a good reason to terminate such an employee, don’t worry. The circumstances immediately preceding the discharge decision are what matter.

Courts like to see that ­employers pause before firing an employee accused of breaking a rule and then document their investigation carefully. Interviewing the employee should be routine in most disciplinary cases. Temporarily suspending an employee before making a final decision also shows the court that the process was fair.

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