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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!

Freeport’s former fire chief has sued the city and the city manager, claiming he was wrongfully terminated for reporting an alleged violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act.

Generally, public employees are entitled to a hearing before they are terminated. But in some government functions, employees who work at senior levels are deemed to be serving at the pleasure of the head of their agency or unit.

Q. Do I have to allow an employee off work because he has been subpoenaed to testify in a friend’s divorce case? I would like to replace him if he misses work for more than a day or two.

Q. We recently received a court order to garnish the wages of an employee who has failed to repay a student loan. I thought that the garnishment of an employee’s wages in Texas was prohibited by law. Is that no longer true?

If you offer severance pay to discharged workers, take note. If you’re terminating an older employee—and you ask the employee to waive the right to sue for alleged age discrimination in exchange for your severance package—be sure to offer something more than what you offer others who lose their jobs.

Listen up! Breaking news! It doesn’t really matter whom you label as a supervisor any more. As a way to hold a company liable for sexually harassing conduct by a “supervisor,” one court recently relabeled a co-worker as a “supervisor,” even though this person had absolutely no power to hire, fire, promote, demote or otherwise affect the harassed employee’s job status. The court, with the support of the EEOC, ruled that just being the “highest ranking employee on site” with the ability to set schedules and dole out discipline makes for a supervisor as a matter of law.

Here’s another good reason to meticulously track performance: If you end up firing or demoting someone without good documentation, you may end up in court. Bad timing alone could trigger a lawsuit if the employee engaged in some sort of protected activity just before the action.

Having a written anti-harassment policy and clear reporting procedure can help you defend a harassment claim. But those aren’t silver bullets. As a new ruling says, your efforts must “be effective to prevent harassment.” In the following case, a manager’s failure to pass along complaints about the actions of a repeat offender were clearly not “effective” …

While the federal Civil Rights Act contains no outright prohibition against discrimination based on sexual orientation, that doesn’t mean employers can get away with discriminating against employees who don’t fit society’s stereotypes about how men and women should look. Sex stereotyping may well be sex discrimination because it is based on notions of what is “feminine” and “masculine.”

Virtually every federal employment law has an anti-retaliation provision—they would be toothless tigers without them. Employees who can’t prove outright discrimination often try the retaliation route. The EEOC handled a record-high 33,613 retaliation complaints in 2009. As a result, employers must tread carefully when dealing with an employee who has exercised his or her rights under any federal law.