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!

Sometimes, for whatever reason, a seemingly great employee makes an awful decision that forces you to terminate her. The key: Be consistent. Letting bad behavior slide because the worker is a stellar performer can trigger a discrimination claim. The best way to show bias played no part in the decision: Document the employee’s unacceptable behavior.

Because Texas is an “at-will” state, employers are generally free to fire employees for any reason or no reason. Of course, firing employees under circumstances that would be illegal under any specific employment law won’t fly. But other than that, there is only one other discharge reason that puts employees outside at-will employment: Employers can’t fire employees for refusing to perform an illegal act.

In age discrimination cases, employees only have to show they were replaced by someone younger, or otherwise discharged because of age. You will have a much easier time showing that you had a legitimate reason unrelated to age for terminating the employee if you can cite specific business reasons to back up each part of your decision-making process.

You may be worrying too much about firing an employee right after she files a discrimination complaint! If you can easily show that you would have fired her regardless of her complaint, a court is unlikely to connect her complaint with your decision. And in Texas, timing alone isn’t enough to prove the firing was retaliation.

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.