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!

Not every discrimination claim turns out to be true. Some may be exaggerated, others just downright false. If you investigate a complaint and conclude that it was untrue, you can and should discipline the employee.

Like many municipalities, the city of Latrobe is struggling with falling revenue. City Manager Rick Stadler attempted to address the city’s shortfall by eliminating six clerical positions, while the Office of City Administration cut two staffers. Now all eight employees have requested an EEOC probe into the terminations to determine if they violated anti-discrimination laws.

Some employers don’t necessarily want to confront an employee directly when they suspect that he may be engaged in illegal activity. The threat of violent reprisal is very real. If you fire the employee, he may sue, alleging some form of discrimination. But if you have documented why you did what you did, chances are the lawsuit will be dismissed.

Here’s some good news that will make it easier for employers that want to challenge unemployment compensation claims after firing an employee for misconduct. The HR representative who conducted the investigation can testify about what others said, provided that any written statements are also presented.
Managers, supervisors and HR professionals, beware: Courts are cracking down on employers that punish employees who serve in the military. One way is by clarifying that those who participate in hiring and firing decisions may be held personally liable for violating USERRA.

Do you think some employees may be taking advantage of your paid leave plan? If so, it’s OK to set up a surveillance program to catch the worst offenders. Just make sure you document why a particular employee’s behavior is suspicious. Good reasons to check up include “coincidental” timing like absences clustered around weekends or holidays.

Sometimes, you don’t know how lousy an employee was until he or she is gone. That may be when you find out about missing work, or even missing money. Or you may discover that the employee was essentially dishonest. If that’s the fact, promptly document what you discovered—just in case there is a later lawsuit.

In these difficult economic times, if you have to conduct a reduction in force, think carefully about how you select those who will be terminated, especially if you anticipate bringing some workers back when the financial picture improves. For example, don’t tell employees they were picked for layoffs because their work was substandard. Use a gentler approach.

In North Carolina, union employees have to use their contracts to pursue claims they were unfairly fired. They can’t do what at-will employees can do—sue for wrongful termination.

The HR office is often the place where a lawsuit can be prevented. That’s why HR pros must make sure every discharge or other adverse employment decision (demotion, pay cut, etc.) can be successfully defended. Be especially careful if you’re asked to approve a decision that comes closely on the heels of a discrimination or harassment complaint.