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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With the most recent U.S. Supreme Court pronouncement on retaliation, it’s now clearly impermissible to punish someone who is closely related to an employee who has filed an EEOC complaint or lawsuit. But you can protect yourself by limiting who within the company knows about litigation.

If you don’t have a chance to personally observe an employee’s behavior, don’t rely solely on a supervisor’s termination recommendation. Instead, conduct an independent investigation to verify the supervisor’s claim. Otherwise, any employment decision based on that recommendation can be tainted by the supervisor’s hidden bias.

It seems administrators at Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill College didn’t know one of their employees as well as they thought they did. The Rev. James St. George had been teaching Bible studies, theology and justice courses at the Catholic college since 2009. When St. George wrote in a blog posting that he is gay, the college fired him.

Employees who complain about discrimination or harassment are protected from retaliation. But some of them mistakenly believe that complaining makes them invincible. That’s not true. Employers can discipline any employee who deserves it—including those who have complained—as long as the rules are applied fairly.

Texas state Rep. Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio) has filed a bill that would prohibit Texas employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that an employee who was fired shortly after his fiancée filed a bias charge against their employer may sue for third-party retaliation under Title VII. According to the court, the employee could be considered an “aggrieved person” because he was “well within the zone of interests sought to be protected by Title VII.” What's the practical impact for employers?

Terminating an employee is never easy. But thanks to a recent California Court of Appeal decision, at least you don’t have to worry about wage statement violations—if you follow the common sense guidelines the court announced.

Score one for common sense: People who want a job they see posted have to apply before they can sue for not getting it. A phone call to HR that was never returned can’t be grounds for a failure-to-hire lawsuit.

Q. Our company is considering replacing sick leave and vacation benefits with a paid time off (PTO) system. Under a PTO plan, how should we handle it when an employee resigns or is terminated?

Courts don’t like it when employees are treated unfairly. On the other hand, judges don’t want to serve as HR courts, either. That’s why they generally defer to management decisions that seem fair and honest. Judges prefer it when employers investigate allegations of employee wrongdoing before they fire someone—but they don’t require that the investigation be perfect.

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