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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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Q. We discovered that one of our employees has a history of unprovoked violent fits due to schizophrenia. We certainly sympathize with our employee’s struggle, but we also worry about the safety of customers and other employees. Does state law allow us to fire him for this reason?
An employee who had a long history of filing internal discrimination claims has lost a retaliation lawsuit. She alleged her employer retaliated against her when it terminated her after she missed work for medical reasons, an absence her doctor believed might last indefinitely.
Worried about how to handle offensive co-worker comments? You certainly want to discourage such behavior and make clear it must stop. However, take comfort in knowing that a few stray comments over time won’t cost you a hostile work environment lawsuit.
When a volunteer for a nonprofit organization is “fired” from his voluntary position and the organization subsequently reports the circumstances to his actual employer, resulting in his termination, can the volunteer sue the nonprofit for tortious interference with his employment contract?
You’re surely on safe legal grounds to fire an employee for conduct that breaks the law, aren’t you? Of course you are. But that doesn’t mean you’re free to talk about the circumstances.
Here’s advice if you’re ever tempted to fire an at-will employee because she is about to start racking up expensive claims using your employer-provided benefits: Don’t do it!
The decision to fire an employee doesn’t usually happen overnight. It’s typically a gradual process. Be sure you can show exactly when and how you made the termination decision.
If you are engaged in a reduction in force and rewrite a job description so an older employee is eliminated because she lacks a requirement in the new description, she could sue you and easily win in court.
Sometimes it’s obvious that you are going to have to fire an employee. First, however, you must follow your usual employment and HR procedures. Don’t just go through the motions, and don’t get sloppy!
Q. We fired a worker for poor performance, but we didn’t tell him exactly why. Now he is demanding the discharge reason in writing. What do we do?
Sometimes, it makes sense to use a last-chance agreement in which an employee agrees that one more violation of a company rule will mean immediate termination.
If the manager has moved on, all is not lost. You can still argue that the worker was hired knowing his status and that it makes no sense to then have fired him for that characteristic.
Sometimes, it becomes clear that safety concerns require an employer to move a worker and even terminate him if it isn’t possible to offer a different, safer position.
Q. Our company policy is not to pay an employee for unused vacation time if the employee resigns without giving the required two weeks’ notice. A former employee has challenged this policy and is threatening to take the company to court. Is this policy lawful?
Q. We are a small business and cannot afford to have employees out for extended leaves. One of our employees will be on jury duty for a trial that we’re told could continue for at least a month. Do we have to keep her job open to her when the trial is over?
Sometimes, if you want to help a terminated employee move on to better opportunities, it may also make sense to not offer a reason for the discharge, especially if stating the reason could interfere with his or her job hunt.
A zero-tolerance policy regarding violence is usually fine. However, you must be prepared for a lawsuit if one of the people disciplined has previously complained about some form of discrimination.
Under the Pennsylvania Human Rights Act, employees who are actively involved in termination decisions may be deemed personally liable for aiding and abetting violations of the law.
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires employers to notify employees 60 days before closing down or conducting a mass layoff of 50 or more workers. However, there are exceptions.
Just letting an employee sign a resignation letter instead of being terminated won’t always prevent her from suing you.
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