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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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.

You can’t retaliate against employees who complain about alleged discrimination in the workplace. But what’s retaliation? Tense working conditions don’t always fit that bill. There can be many explanations for rising tensions that have nothing to do with a discrimination complaint.

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.

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