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 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.

When companies draft their employee handbooks, they often strive for certainty. Employees want to know what the rules are and employers often oblige with draconian, zero-tolerance rules. No wonder managers often try to apply all the rules equally in all situations. But the smart money is on flexibility.

Q. We recently fired an employee because of insubordination and anger-management issues. The termination meeting, not surprisingly, didn’t go well and the employee became very agitated. He made some statements that could be interpreted as vague threats against his supervisor and our company. Is there anything we can or should do to protect ourselves from this former employee?
Employees sometimes think that employers have to accommodate all their schedule requests. Not usually. Often, employees fired for refusing to work their scheduled hours expect to receive unemployment benefits.
Here’s an important reminder to heed when you must discipline employees: If an employee commits a major rule violation that justifies termination, rely on that reason alone. Resist the temptation to pile on additional reasons. It may make defending a lawsuit that much easier.

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.

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.
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.

If you’ve ever been caught up in an employment lawsuit, chances are you couldn’t wait for it to be over. Yet every case presents a valuable opportunity to prevent future problems and improve HR effectiveness by conducting an “autopsy” of the claim. Jathan Janove tells you how.

HR professionals or managers should always discuss performance or behavior problems with employees before disciplining them. After all, employees often admit their mistakes when confronted directly. And any admissions can be used later to support your disciplinary decision if the employee claims discrimination.

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