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Avoid overly specific ‘grounds for firing’ list

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in Firing,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,People Management

A United Parcel Service (UPS) worker broke into a profane tirade at two supervisors in a dispute over his check. When he refused to stop, the HR director dismissed him on the spot.

The worker, disciplined twice before for swearing, fought the firing in court. His argument: Swearing was not one of the seven reasons for immediate dismissal cited in UPS' employee discipline policy.

A lower court sided with UPS, saying profanity was unacceptable even if it wasn't specifically mentioned in the rules. But the 9th Circuit overturned the ruling and reinstated the worker, saying the terms were clearly spelled out and they didn't include profanity. (Hawaii Teamsters and Allied Workers Union, Local 996 v. UPS, No. 99-17079, 2000)

Advice: Don't try to list every offense for which workers could be fired. It may eliminate your at-will right to fire at your discretion. It's better to cite broad categories, such as insubordination.

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