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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A former school bus driver is suing the Nacogdoches Independent School District, arguing she was fired because of a dire medical condition. She accuses the school district of firing her for exercising her right to medical leave due to a serious health condition under the FMLA. The suit also alleges disability discrimination, race discrimination, retaliation, breach of contract and violations of the Texas Labor Code.
Q. I just terminated an employee and it was an ugly, public scene. Do you have any tips for making termination meetings easier?
The recent 7th Circuit decision in Lindsey v. Walgreen Co. addresses the cat’s paw theory of liability in the context of an age discrimination claim. The court held that a supervisor who decided to fire an employee was not the “cat’s paw” because she did not rely solely on the employee’s allegedly biased supervisor.
Remember this the next time you have to terminate an employee: If you plan to prepare a post-discharge summary, don’t succumb to the temptation to add new reasons to justify the firing. Post-discharge memos should simply describe the decision and how you carried it out, not look like an attempt to justify a decision made earlier.
Q. We want to fire a bad worker, and we don’t want to take an unemployment comp hit. Under California law, when can a terminated worker be denied unemployment benefits?
Q. Is there a law that requires a 45-day waiting period from the time employees are told they’ll be laid off until they receive the severance payment? My supervisor said it’s called a cooling-off period.
Here’s a practice you should make standard operating procedure: Have the same manager who makes hiring decisions also make the firing decisions. Doing so will cut the chances of a successful discrimination lawsuit.

Employees who experience retaliation after complaining about bias can sue and win, even if it turns out there was no basis for the original discrimination complaint. The retaliation doesn’t even have to be something serious such as a demotion or firing. It can be something as subtle as lost training opportunities.

Terminated employees sometimes have to file for bankruptcy. Sometimes they sue former employers, too. In that case, they’re required to inform the bankruptcy court about their pending lawsuit. If you lose a lawsuit, have your attorney find out whether the former employee has filed for bankruptcy. You may find that you have a “get out of jail free” card.

Some supervisors wrongly assume that employees can’t sue if they quit—only if they’re fired. That makes some bosses think the best way to get rid of overly litigious employees is to make life so horrible that they quit. That’s not smart. Employees who find working conditions so intolerable that they have no choice but to quit can still sue for constructive discharge.

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