When hiring employees, negligent hiring practices can doom the process. Learn from your colleagues’ successes – and avoid their pitfalls.

Smart interview questions, well-written job descriptions, and sharp interviewing result in hiring employees that work out well, AND make you look good in the process.

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Here’s one easy way to cut down on lawsuits when you have to fire an employee: Have the same person who hired or last promoted the employee also make the final decision on termination. Reason: Courts often conclude that it would make no sense for those who hired or promoted someone to turn around and fire that same person for discriminatory reasons.

When the person who hires someone is the same one who conducts the firing, courts typically discount the idea that discrimination was involved. After all, why would someone who hired an applicant discriminate later because of that person’s age, race or sex? But be aware that the defense doesn’t always work if there is clear discrimination evidence.

Terminations aren’t always clean. Sometimes they’re damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situations. That’s often so when you conclude that an employee harassed another and must be terminated. With nothing to lose, the fired employee may try to concoct a discrimination lawsuit.

The owner and two managers of a Houston-based used clothing exporting business were recently sentenced to prison for conspiring to harbor illegal immigrants. During a raid at Action Rags USA Inc. last year, ICE agents arrested 166 undocumented workers from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Q. We suspected an employee was using drugs, so we sent him to be tested. We told him he couldn’t work until the test came back in two days. The results were negative. Do we owe him wages for those two days?

The Minnesota Legislature recently enacted a law designed to protect employers from some of the legal risks that may accompany hiring people with criminal backgrounds. The law is designed to help those who have served their sentences re-enter society as productive citizens.

In past recessions, furloughs—requiring employees to take a certain number of unpaid days off—were mostly limited to blue-collar workers. But this downturn is different. In the past two years, everyone from tech firms to state government has furloughed their white-collar employees. Experts offer the following options for furloughs:

When HR director Kris Dunn is in recruiting mode and gets your phone’s answering machine, he uses the occasion to judge you as a leader. “Good energy and kind of dynamic-sounding in your voice mail greeting? Cool. I’m more interested,” he says.

If your organization is typical, you’re relying more heavily on internal promotions than in the past. And as greater numbers of existing employees compete for coveted “inside” jobs, expect a corresponding rise in the number of failure-to-promote lawsuits. HR people and managers are aware of the legal dangers in hiring outside applicants. But many forget that internal promotions also carry risks.

A jury will decide whether Wackenhut Inc. discriminated against Lord Osunfarian Xodus when the security firm turned him down for a security guard position. Xodus, a Chicagoan who practices Rastafari, claimed he lost out on the job after he refused to cut his dreadlocks for religious reasons.

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