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!
When an employee senses that she may be in trouble and about to lose her job, she may begin to review the last year or so with an eye toward filing a pre-emptory lawsuit. If she suddenly remembers alleged acts of discrimination, she’s sure to complain. But she won’t win in the end if her employer can show it made the decision to fire her before she ever complained.
When Long Island’s Jones Beach required its lifeguards to wear Speedo swimsuits for an annual swimming test in 2007, it chafed 61-year-old Roy Lester in more ways than one. He refused to don the skimpy trunks for his test. The beach patrol fired Lester for insubordination.
Here’s a great reason for insisting that all supervisors document their subordinates’ performance problems: If an employee later claims her manager behaved abusively, good documentation will support any discipline for poor performance. That could block a harassment lawsuit.
A Fayetteville Taco Bell faces discrimination charges after it fired a long-term employee for failing to follow company grooming standards. Christopher Abbey had worked at the restaurant for six years before the length of his hair became an issue. Abbey subscribes to the Nazarite faith, which upholds Old Testament teachings that long hair shows one’s devotion to God.
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.