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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!

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has a bigger budget and more staffing this year, and intends to audit federal government contractors or subcontractors that have 50 or more employees and a contract or subcontract of at least $50,000. And the OFCCP can be expected to increase its scrutiny on health care providers that are contractors or subcontractors for the government.

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) expresses a clear legislative intent to prohibit discrimination in all aspects of the employment relationship. However, the NJLAD allows employers to refuse to accept for employment or promote anyone over 70 years of age. The law does prohibit firing someone over 70 because of age. This exception was the subject of a recent New Jersey Supreme Court ruling.

When someone gets fired because a co-worker complained about discrimination, other employees may get upset. Frequently, they don’t know the back story and may ostracize the employee who originally complained about discrimination. That’s especially true if the terminated employee was well liked. However, courts generally won’t consider it an adverse employment action if workers give the complaining employee the “silent treatment.”

Public employees are entitled to due process before they’re fired. But that’s a flexible standard that allows firing for “unacceptable personal conduct.”

Courts understand reductions in force and recognize that companies sometimes have to make tough decisions. When an employer can show it had good reasons for cutting employees through a RIF, affected employees will have to come up with solid discrimination evidence early in the litigation game.

If you offer short-term disability (STD) benefits for employees who can’t work because of illness, you probably insist on medical documentation. If the employee doesn’t provide that information within the reasonable timeline your STD plan requires, you can count the absence against the employee and terminate her.

Q. We strongly suspect that one of our employees has been taking money out of the cash register. Whenever he is responsible for the register, there are a lot more shortages than when others work the register. Even though we can’t prove he is taking money, can we terminate his employment?
Let’s say a supervisor acts too hastily in firing an employee who has turnaround potential. Or perhaps you learn the employee has a plausible discrimination claim, and you’d rather address the issue right away than risk litigation. If you offer to reinstate the employee right away and she refuses to return, chances are a court won’t conclude you unfairly terminated her in the first place.
Can you fire a current employee who, during employment, is convicted of a crime? It’s still not clear that you can fire him because of that conviction. Until the law is clarified, consult your attorney before firing someone based on criminal records.
Q. We have an employee who recently submitted an expense report for more than $1,300 for an extended business trip. We accidentally reimbursed him twice. He did not report the double payment and we did not learn of the mistake until an internal audit two months later. Our company policy prohibits dishonesty and we want to fire the worker for violating this rule. Will he be able to collect unemployment benefits? May we withhold the vacation pay that is due to him under our policy, which would just about make us whole?