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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 disciplining conduct that violates company policies, remember that you have leeway to come up with appropriate punishment based on the specifics of each incident. Just make sure you document the conduct, what rules it violated and why each employee deserved the punishment he or she received.

Illinois has strict laws against recording telephone conversations without permission. But those laws allow recording if a party to the conversation believes a crime is being or is about to be committed. In some cases, that means you can use a recorded phone call as the basis for termination.

Some managers think they have to punish the same rule violation exactly the same way for all employees. But the truth is that no two cases are exactly alike. Those differences can justify punishing one employee more severely than another. The key: You must be prepared to justify why you treated the cases differently.

Sometimes, it’s smart to pull the termination trigger sooner rather than later. Waiting just gives the employee a chance to dig in—and plan a lawsuit.
Here’s some good news for employers. Courts are beginning to toss out more lawsuits in the early stages if it becomes clear an employee has no case. Judges are telling employees they have to come to court with real facts—not just allegations they were discriminated against.
Employees who know they’re in trouble often look for ways to set up a lawsuit in case they’re fired. They may file some sort of discrimination complaint right before termination. This can be a winning strategy if the employer hasn’t been careful to document performance or other problems all along. Don’t get caught in that trap.
Consider this when writing policies: Employees can sue if their employer discriminates against them because of their “association” with a member of a protected class. And that association can include dating and other intimate relationships.
Employers have the right to expect em­­ployees to listen to reasonable directions, accept criticism and otherwise behave in a civilized way. When an employee becomes insubordinate, the employer has the right to discipline her, including firing if necessary.

Government employees have some rights that private-sector employees don’t have, including so-called liberty and property interests in their jobs. That can include the right to a hearing and an opportunity to present their side of the story before being discharged. It also includes the right to preserve their reputations.

When firing an employee, always note exactly when you decided to terminate her. You will no doubt know before the employee does. Your good record-keeping can shoot down an employee’s attempt to blame the firing on something illegal—like disability discrimination or an attempt to interfere with the employee’s FMLA rights.
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