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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It used to be that managers picked up the phone when seeking HR’s input on how to handle an employee problem. These days, they send an email. That can spell big trouble. Email, unlike a phone conversation, leaves a perfect record of what transpired. And courts don’t hesitate to use email as evidence.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has dismissed a lawsuit brought by a worker who claimed she was fired in retaliation for taking intermittent FMLA leave. The court ruled that she was fired for the most defensible of all reasons: She treated a customer badly.

Here’s a good rule of thumb when disciplining employees: Consider it a given that if discipline leads to termination, the entire disciplinary decision-making process will be challenged in court. That’s why you must carefully document every disciplinary action, starting with warnings.

Here’s an important reminder for all supervisors: Innocent age-related comments can come back to haunt you. That’s especially true if the comments come from someone who has a direct say in hiring and firing decisions.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has handed a significant victory to the EEOC, allowing the agency to continue to supervise settled cases. The impact: Employers should expect continued EEOC charges even after the ink is dry on their settlements.
Sometimes an employee pro­­moted to management just isn’t ready for new responsibilities. Maybe she’s having a hard time thinking like an exempt employee, longing for the days when she was entitled to breaks and overtime. Fortunately, if you discipline such employees for neglecting their duties, they can’t later claim they actually were hourly employees entitled to overtime.

Employees who are suffering from depression, anxiety or other psychological problems may be disabled, but that doesn’t mean they’re excused from following the rules. For example, employers don’t have to tolerate threats, even if the threats concern the employee’s disability.

It’s always wise to keep careful records showing exactly why you terminate employees. They’re crucial if an employee ever sues. By showing specific reasons why you fired someone, you will be able to show the court that the termination was appropriate.

Some employees can never seem to see that their bad attitudes and behaviors cause workplace problems. Confronted with complaints, they inevitably claim their subordinates or customers are wrong. When they’re finally terminated, they're quite likely to sue. That’s when it’s handy to have a performance appraisal process that uses 360-degree reviews.

When you have to investigate allegations that may lead to termination, it’s a good practice to conduct that investigation as independently as possible. That often means you will have to leave out of the picture any supervisors who have a negative history with the employee.

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