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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Many employers wrongly assume that they can automatically terminate an employee once she used up her 12-week entitlement of FMLA leave. Such a policy could spell trouble.

If you have employees who deal directly with customers, how they handle those interactions may be grounds for dismissal. When a customer complaint plays a role in a discharge decision, make sure you can locate that customer later. Customers’ testimonies can be powerful in court because juries tend to view customers as impartial.

Minneapolis-based grocery chain Supervalu faces a lawsuit from a former employee at a distribution center in Pennsylvania. Long-time employee Terri Wolfinger claims the company changed the lifting requirements in her job description to prevent her from returning to work after she injured her arm.

Violence in the workplace is a harsh reality, but employers must provide a safe work environment. That may mean terminating employees who threaten other employees or get into fights.
Do you have one of those em­­ployees who are never happy and always seem to find something to complain about? It may be tempting to ignore the constant complaining or chalk it all up to personality conflicts, but that would probably be a mistake. Carefully document the tension and your response.

Under Minnesota’s Whistle­­blower Act, employees who report alleged employer wrongdoing to their employer or the government are protected from retaliation. Those employees don’t have to be right about their allegations—they just have to act in good faith. If their allegations have an “objective basis in fact,” they are protected by the law.

Ignoring a discrimination complaint can set in motion an un­­stop­­pable litigation train wreck. That’s especially true if you fail to in­­vestigate a boss who ends up retaliating against the complaining employee.

Some employees facing criticism will own up to the problem and work to improve. Others simply refuse to recognize that their per­­formance is subpar or contributing to discord in the workplace. Either way, it’s worth at least ex­­tend­­ing to the employee a chance to improve and keep his job—after you have docu­mented the nature of the problem.

If two employees break the same workplace rule, they should receive the same punishment. But that doesn’t mean you can’t distinguish between degrees of culpability. It’s perfectly fine to terminate an employee who has a long history of rule breaking and retain another because it’s a first offense.

Here’s something to remember the next time you agonize over discharging an employee for breaking a rule: While you should treat all employees honestly, you don’t have to conduct a mini trial to determine “guilt.” It’s enough to believe you had a legitimate reason to fire the employee—even if it later turns out you were wrong.
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