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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!

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.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Nothing wins lawsuits like good records. Tell all managers and supervisors that HR won’t approve any disciplinary action without a copy of the documentation used to justify the decision ...

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 was enacted in response to concerns that insurers and employers could use results of genetic testing to discriminate against applicants and employees. Covered employers should consider updating their employment policies and practices to comply with GINA’s many technical requirements.

After taking a back seat to other employment issues on the U.S. Supreme Court’s agenda, the “cat’s paw” theory of liability may well be coming back into the spotlight, and employers better be ready. Whether or not Staub v. Proctor Hospital reaches the Supreme Court, the case should be a wake-up call: Cat’s paw cases are out there and they can lead to protracted, costly litigation.

Are you planning a reduction in force due to the poor economy? If so, double-check who is going to lose their jobs, paying particular attention to whether the burden falls predominantly on workers over age 40. If that is the case, make absolutely certain you have legitimate business reasons to back up your decision to fire them.