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!

Hiring managers spend too much time interviewing candidates—and asking them the wrong questions. Then they’re often surprised to have to fire those same candidates a few months later after discovering that good interview skills don’t necessarily signal a great job fit. The problem: Employers often hire for hard skills but fire for soft skills, says Karl Ahlrichs of Hiring Smart, an Indiana firm specializing in employee selection. Instead, says Ahlrichs, “Our new slogan should be, ‘Fire them before we hire them.’” ...

You know you have an obligation to eliminate discrimination, harassment and retaliation. You know you have to make sure employees don’t harass co-workers or subordinates, or harm customers and others. On the other hand, you know applicants and employees have a right to privacy that is protected by state and federal laws. It’s a balancing act: Just how do you protect workers on the one hand, while respecting their privacy on the other?

Here’s a tip that will make courts more likely to uphold your termination decisions. Make sure whatever reason you use to justify the firing also showed up in past performance evaluations. Nothing raises suspicions more than kudos followed by discharge.

Nothing raises suspicions among employees (and juries) than effusive praise followed by a pink slip. So here’s a tip that will make courts more likely to uphold your termination decisions: Make sure whatever reason you use to justify a firing also shows up in past performance evaluations.

Employers that keep careful track of which employees are disciplined—and for what reasons—have a leg up if they’re ever sued for discrimination. Before you terminate any employee, take the time to pull up all similar past disciplinary files. If those records show you fired other employees for identical or less-serious offenses, chances are no court will second-guess your decision in the latest case.

Minnesota employees who make good-faith reports about safety concerns are protected from retaliation. Before you approve a termination recommendation, make sure the employee hasn’t recently complained about safety issues. If he has, verify that the discharge reasons are genuine. Otherwise, prepare for a retaliation lawsuit.

Q. We are in the process of reducing our staff and will need to lay off several employees. Are we required to provide severance pay to those selected for layoff? How about pay for accrued, unused vacation time?
Q. A group of our employees recently voted to strike. To ensure that our operations aren’t disrupted, we would like to hire replacement workers. When the strike ends, will we be required to reinstate the strikers?

Employee theft is a big problem, and it’s natural for employers that catch workers stealing to terminate them. But some of those thieves may still file for unemployment. Challenge such applications on the basis that the firing offense was punishable as a crime. There’s no need for an actual conviction.

Until now, it wasn’t clear whether employers could ask employees returning from military service to waive their re-employment rights under USERRA. Now a ruling from the federal 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has offered guidance for employers that want to provide severance payments in lieu of re-employment.