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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Remind supervisors to avoid comments that could be interpreted as pushing soon-to-retire workers out the door. If an older employee has to be terminated, a supervisor’s not-so-subtle hints at retirement will make it easier to persuade a court that age was the supervisor’s true reason for the firing.

Besides implied contracts, federal laws, state statutes and court decisions are chiseling away at the at-will doctrine as the number of wrongful-discharge suits spirals higher. Here’s why:

If an employer wants to challenge a request for FMLA leave, it must give the employee 15 days to get a medical certification showing she has a serious health condition. Until the employer makes the request, the 15-day period doesn’t start running. Disciplining or firing the employee before the time is up will most likely be considered an FMLA violation if it turns out the employee really did have a serious health condition.

USERRA provides returning soldiers, sailors and other service personnel with additional employment rights that other employees don’t always enjoy. One of those is the right to remain employed unless fired for just cause. In effect, USERRA temporarily turns what were once at-will employees into employees with job protection.

The EEOC projects the number of private-sector charges to exceed 100,000 by the end of fiscal year 2010. The increase is due in part to the additional statutory authority it gained with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA). Given this trend, employers should review their ADA and medical policies to ensure they are in compliance with the ADAAA.

Have you ever thought of not hiring an applicant because he or she had previously declared bankruptcy? Maybe you thought that was discriminatory. But a court last week said, “Don’t worry.” Private employers won’t violate the U.S. Bankruptcy Code if they refuse to hire. But firing based on bankruptcy status is another story…

While employee handbooks are not required by law, they can prove essential — especially for small business owners that can't afford to lose a harassment or discrimination lawsuit. The employee handbook has become an essential tool in the employer’s arsenal to defend against liability for employment decisions.

Employers know they must conduct prompt and thorough investigations once an employee complains about discrimination or harassment. The integrity of the investigative process depends on the honesty of all participants. You don’t have to tolerate employees who lie during an investigation, even if the lie is a minor one.

The Minnesota Supreme Court has rejected a retaliation lawsuit that alleged reverse discrimination at Capella University, the nationwide online institution of higher learning based in Minneapolis.

When an employee tries to challenge his employer’s decision to discharge him based on some form of discrimination, he has to show that the reasons for the firing weren’t legitimate. It’s not good enough to knock down just one of the reasons. He has to show all of them were suspect. That’s why it’s important to document in your files each legitimate discharge reason—at the time you make the decision.