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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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.

It happens—employers make mistakes. Under most circumstances, however, those mistakes won’t turn into successful employee discrimination lawsuits. That’s because employees have to prove that both the decision and the underlying facts were wrong and were used as an excuse to discriminate.

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 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.

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.

Employees who sue but can’t show they suffered any monetary damages sometimes claim mental distress instead. Fortunately, courts don’t just take their word it, especially if the employee claims she had to undergo psychiatric treatment.
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.
It’s been an open question whether Cali­for­nia’s Fair Employment and Hous­ing Act allows employers to punish a mentally ill employee whose disease makes her act out. Now the answer is clear: You can punish mentally disabled employees for threats or violence against co-workers.
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.
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.
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