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!
Q. You’ve written that we can’t fire employees for their “concerted activity,” like talking about pay or bosses, and we may have to live with certain complaining via social media. But are there limits?
GameStop, the video-game retailer, fired an employee recently for tweeting two pictures of himself “planking” on the store counter and between two merchandise kiosks. GameStop has a policy that says employees can be terminated for online activity that puts the company in a bad light.
When it comes to bringing legal claims, employees feel emboldened when they can paint you into a “my word against yours” corner. But they don’t feel as comfortable—and likely won’t sue—when they’re facing a case of their word against two representatives from management.
Sometimes, you have no choice but to fire an employee. Every one of those discharges is a fresh chance to be sued by a disgruntled former employee. For each type of termination, there are some common ways employers can make sure they can defend themselves if challenged.
Employers must make sure they hand out similar punishment for similar misconduct, regardless of the race of the employee—or any publicity that might surround the case.
Some employers have strict rules that prohibit supervisors from getting involved in subordinates’ personal problems—or treating them badly. That’s fine. Employers are free to set their own supervisory standards, and a subordinate’s behavior doesn’t excuse a supervisor’s out-of-bounds reaction.
Government employees have a few rights that private-sector employees lack. One is the right to “some sort of” hearing before being terminated. A public employee essentially gets the right to challenge the decision to terminate him before it is final. But what happens if the employee signs on to a so-called last-chance agreement?
Here’s a caution about workplace logistics such as office assignments, work schedules and other supervisor actions that members of a particular protected class could view as hostile: If the result is any kind of workforce “segregation,” make sure you have a good underlying business reason that has nothing to do with race, sex, etc.
Q. We have a staff member with body odor so bad that other staff members have complained and even threatened to leave the company. The employee has been disciplined several times and required to go home without pay until she agrees to comply with our grooming code. At what point can we legally terminate her?
To avoid needless litigation, make sure someone else sits in on termination meetings.