Firing — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Page 30
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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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There’s some good news for em­­ployers concerned about retaliation after an employee participates in protected activity such as testifying in another employee’s discrimination lawsuit. If a substantial amount of time has passed since the employee’s testimony, any disciplinary action you take probably won’t be enough to form the basis of a retaliation claim.

A Houston manufacturer will pay $60,000 and provide other relief to settle an EEOC age discrimination lawsuit. According to the EEOC, Metallic Products Corp. had an unlawful mandatory policy that required em­­ployees to retire when they reached age 70.

Some employees might welcome a transfer from a physically challenging job to a more sedentary one. But for someone who liked the old job and doesn’t feel qualified for the new one, the move could feel like retaliation.
Occasionally, you may decide to create alternative work arrangements based on written agreements. How you do that is crucial to retaining at-will status.

Looks like the National Basketball Association will make up for time lost to the lockout by playing on both the basketball and legal courts for the next few months. A former NBA security official claims his firing last summer was retaliation for reporting sexual harassment incidents.

Minneapolis-based grocery chain Supervalu faces a lawsuit from a former employee at a distribution center in Pennsylvania. Long-time employee Terri Wolfinger claims the company changed the lifting requirements in her job description to prevent her from returning to work after she injured her arm.

To prove age discrimination, a fired employee must be age 40 or older and show that she was replaced by someone under 40 who was less qualified. Marcy Starnes, who managed the Carmel Cinema in Putnam County, didn’t have to look far to find her replacement. It was her daughter.

Under Minnesota’s Whistle­­blower Act, employees who report alleged employer wrongdoing to their employer or the government are protected from retaliation. Those employees don’t have to be right about their allegations—they just have to act in good faith. If their allegations have an “objective basis in fact,” they are protected by the law.

Some employees facing criticism will own up to the problem and work to improve. Others simply refuse to recognize that their per­­formance is subpar or contributing to discord in the workplace. Either way, it’s worth at least ex­­tend­­ing to the employee a chance to improve and keep his job—after you have docu­mented the nature of the problem.

Smart employers use a variety of methods to prevent age discrimination and other claims. Such mechanisms don’t happen by accident, but require careful attention to detail and a comprehensive hiring and firing program.
Here’s something to remember the next time you agonize over discharging an employee for breaking a rule: While you should treat all employees honestly, you don’t have to conduct a mini trial to determine “guilt.” It’s enough to believe you had a legitimate reason to fire the employee—even if it later turns out you were wrong.

Make this a mantra in your organization: The same person who hired an employee should be the one to fire him if necessary. Here’s why:

If you have employees who deal directly with customers, how they handle those interactions may be grounds for dismissal. When a customer complaint plays a role in a discharge decision, make sure you can locate that customer later. Customers’ testimonies can be powerful in court because juries tend to view customers as impartial.

Do you have one of those em­­ployees who are never happy and always seem to find something to complain about? It may be tempting to ignore the constant complaining or chalk it all up to personality conflicts, but that would probably be a mistake. Carefully document the tension and your response.
Los Angeles clothing manufacturer and retailer American Apparel has agreed to settle an ADA lawsuit filed by a former employee who was fired while out on medical leave.

If two employees break the same workplace rule, they should receive the same punishment. But that doesn’t mean you can’t distinguish between degrees of culpability. It’s perfectly fine to terminate an employee who has a long history of rule breaking and retain another because it’s a first offense.

If a supervisor believes an employee has such a negative attitude that it warrants firing, do your HR duty! Immediately ask for documentation of the problem. It can’t wait until after the termination occurs. After-the-fact, subjective assessments may not survive a court challenge.

Philadelphia-based Imperial Security will pay $50,000 to settle EEOC charges it discriminated against a woman and fired her because of her religious attire.
Many employers wrongly assume that they can automatically terminate an employee once she used up her 12-week entitlement of FMLA leave. Such a policy could spell trouble.
How to avoid the two most common pitfalls in writing performance reviews.
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