Most lawsuits are not triggered by great injustices. Instead, simple management mistakes and perceived slights start the snowball of discontent rolling downhill toward the courtroom. Here are 6 of the biggest manager mistakes that harm an organization’s credibility in court. Use these points as a checklist to shore up your personal employment-law defense:
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!
Supervisors need regular reminders—reinforced with training—that it’s their responsibility to find ways to deal with it when workers go on FMLA leave, no matter how difficult it may be to cover for the absent employee. As the following case shows, courts have no sympathy for employers that fire or make unreasonable demands on employees who exercise their FMLA rights.
Some employees think they can behave like jerks at work without any consequences—as long as they don’t harass co-workers. You don’t have to put up with that kind of nonsense. Instead, institute clear rules against such behavior. Put them in your employee handbook. Then enforce those rules—up to and including firing those who just won’t change their ways.
If you’re like many employers, you offer severance pay when you have to implement a reduction in force. Never pay severance without getting something in return from the employee, namely a release and waiver of liability. There’s an important catch to understand when you ask for such a release from older workers.
Some employees who believe they’ve been mistreated get so angry that they begin airing their grievances to co-workers. That can be a firing offense. Although you can’t ban employees from talking about wages or other conditions of employment, you can prohibit harassing conduct.
If you have hiring and firing responsibilities, you may worry from time to time whether you could be held personally liable for your decisions. Now a Texas appeals court has answered that question—at least in situations involving the firing of someone who refuses to engage in an act she believes is illegal. The court said there is no personal liability.
Sometimes, employees get angry over some real or imagined slight and walk out. To make sure they really did quit and can’t claim constructive discharge, document your efforts to determine what happened.