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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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.

The best approach to dealing with declining performance is careful and meticulous record-keeping showing expectations and how the employee isn’t meeting them. Objective facts trump the employee’s feelings that she is being discriminated against for some reason.
It may have been one of the worst layoff memos of all time. After beginning with a breezy “Hello there,” Microsoft honcho Stephen Elop’s July 17 all-staff email stumbled obliviously downhill.
Some workplace behavior is so outrageous that employers must take immediate action. While a complete and thorough investigation is ideal, don’t be afraid to act fast when necessary.
Sometimes, it makes sense for a business to reduce costs. One way may be to cut personnel, especially employees who are highly compensated and whose work may be redundant. A danger, of course, is that the most highly paid may be older workers, and terminating them may prompt an age discrimination lawsuit.
Q. We recently notified employees that we will be cutting pay due to difficult economic times. Then we received an anonymous letter expressing concerns about this decision. It suggested alternatives to pay cuts, such as eliminating our employer 401(k) match. We determined that the letter was written by one employee and edited by another. Can we terminate them?
Employees don’t have the right to decide which directions they must follow. Unless there are clearly extenuating reasons (safety concerns, for example), you can and should discipline workers who refuse to cooperate.
Employers don’t have to tolerate disruptive and rude behavior in the workplace. You can set—and should enforce—basic civility rules. Not only does that give you a basis for discipline, but it may prevent a problem from escalating from boorish behavior to harassment.
Q. Is it OK to terminate an employee without first issuing some kind of a disciplinary warning?
Q. We recently held a three-day meeting and on the second night one of the regional account executives proceeded to drink too much and behave very badly. He failed to show up for the final day of the meeting. Is this grounds for dismissal?
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