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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!

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A Minnesota appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged a state law providing teachers with tenure protection. A group of parents had claimed that the law violated their children’s rights to an education because tenure made it difficult to get rid of ineffective teachers.
Employees out on FMLA leave don’t enjoy more job protection than employees who don’t take leave. As long as an employer doesn’t terminate because an employee took FMLA leave, it’s perfectly lawful to fire someone during leave.
In Pennsylvania, employment is presumed to be at-will, meaning employers can terminate workers for any legal reason or no reason at all. There is one exception, however. The so-called public policy exception provides protection from termination if an employee files a workers’ compensation claim.
What kind of investigation, if any, is required before an employer can fire a worker for what it believes is some kind of misconduct?

Under the FMLA, employers with 50 or more employees within 75 miles of the company’s work site are required to provide FMLA leave to their employees. But even if you're a small employer, innocent mistakes could make the “50/75 rule” meaningless to you — and force you to provide FMLA leave. Learn how to avoid that trap.

Starkey Laboratories, an Eden Prairie, Minnesota maker of hearing aids, has settled two wrongful termination lawsuits that followed the sacking of several top executives two years ago.
Workers who waste time on their personal electronics may be present physically but otherwise absent.
If an employee sues her employer and suddenly faces increased scrutiny, she may argue that she’s being retaliated against. She would have an even stronger case if the employer was singling her out for extra scrutiny.
Even if you think you have a rock-solid reason to fire someone, don’t count on it as an airtight defense against every lawsuit. Your rationale might, for example, be an excellent defense against an age discrimination claim, but not against an FMLA claim.
Recent incidents have raised questions about how private employers handle employees with unpopular political views and what legal hurdles they may face.
If an employee says she is going to need FMLA leave as soon as she becomes eligible, terminating her may amount to interference with the right to take FMLA leave. That’s true even though she wasn’t eligible for leave when she was fired.
Do you think you may have slightly underpaid an employee who is being terminated? Paying her a little extra as she heads out the door may fix that problem without penalty, based on California wage payment rules.
An employee who believes she has been fired for discriminatory reasons has the right to sue her employer as soon as she receives a termination notice. That’s true even if the termination isn’t yet effective.
What not to do when closing down offices in which workers are older than the company average: Mention that eventually you may be able to hire younger replacements at lower cost. That’s just asking for a lawsuit.
Sometimes, it is up to HR to stop bosses from doing the wrong thing—for example, when he is frustrated because he has to accommodate a disabled worker’s medical restrictions. If the supervisor comes up with an obviously implausible reason to fire the worker, expect trouble.
When you set out to discipline a worker for breaking a rule, prepare a report that tells the whole story. That’s especially important if you need to justify why one employee received a harsher punishment than others who, in the past, may have committed similar offenses.
Make sure your managers and supervisors clearly and formally communicate their performance expectations. A performance review that criticizes alleged poor work based on expectations that weren’t clearly communicated can become the basis for a lawsuit.
If you haven’t had to interact with EEOC investigators yet, chances are you will eventually. And a supervisor who hasn’t been properly prepared to deal with EEOC investigators can sink your case fast.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals had reinstated a lawsuit against a grain operator based on the suspicious timing of a discharge and the use of what the court thought sounded like a manufactured excuse for not rehiring the worker.
Generally speaking, the law does not tolerate inconsistency very well. That’s one reason it’s so important to be careful about how you explain someone’s termination. If your story changes, don’t be surprised if it winds up being used against you.
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