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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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.
An Arab-American of Moroccan descent has charged consulting giant PwC (formerly Pricewaters­houseCoopers) with discrimination and retaliation after it fired him and allegedly orchestrated his firing from another firm.

A supervisor asks a worker to move some heavy boxes, which isn’t one of the worker’s usual duties. The worker refuses, claiming physical problems prevent him from doing so. What should the supervisor do? Fire him for insubordination?

It’s a simple fact: You can’t tell which of your employees might sue you one day or for what reason. Your only real protection is fairness. If you treat all employees equally and provide them with the same opportunities, training and discipline, chances are any lawsuit will eventually be dismissed.

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.
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