"firing" Blog Tag

Can you require new employees not to bash you on Glassdoor?

November 19th, 2019

Eric Meyer at FisherBroyles

You know, like with an employment agreement and stuff like a non-disparagement provision, protected concerted activity and a savings clause (nothing to do with Santa Claus - good gracious, Dunkin' has just barley unveiled their official holiday lineup).

Eric Meyer will explain. Really.

Well, maybe not why @PeppermintMocha has an Instagram account and Gingerbread S'mores does not. Or maybe he can.

Randy Newman, racism and rednecks

August 28th, 2019

Fiona Ong at Shawe Rosenthal

FIona Ong discusses how a discrimination claim resulted from a manager apparently trying to protect an employee from racism. No good deed goes unpunished?

Maybe the best part is a federal district court used both the Oxford English Dictionary and Randy Newman to define "redneck".

Tourette syndrome, the ADA and racial harassment

August 28th, 2019

Robin Shea at Constangy

Is Tourette syndrome a disability?

Is the "N" word racial discrimination?

Can you fire someone who has Tourette syndrome?

And what about constructive discharge?

Robin Shea covers all of this and more.

Hiring, firing and discipline - a simple audit

August 21st, 2019

Frank L. Day, Jr., Jessica Asbridge, Mollie K. Wildmann at FordHarrison

The following list of questions should serve as an introduction to a number of fundamental employment law concepts, and the answers to each question will enable users to determine if “best practices” generally are being followed. Of course, this list of questions will not ensure that full compliance with all laws and regulations that govern the employer-employee relationship, but...

Can you practice virtually firing someone?

August 21st, 2019

Robin Shea at Constangy

Thirty-five years after Max Headroom first invaded our reality with his virtual reality, you can fire him.

OK, you can't fire Max Headroom, but you can fire Barry Thompson. Barry was created by Talespin to provide the opportunity to practice soft skills, like firing, negotiating, even giving critical feedback.

And for those of you with a bit of a masochistic side, you can fire him as many times as you want. Just saying.

Robin Shea introduces you to Barry and wonders aloud a little bit. 

IL Tidal wave (or tsunami) of new laws for Illinois employers

August 15th, 2019

David Moore and Peter Gillespie at Laner Muchin

Look, I am not one to argue with attorneys because you never know when you might need one, so you decide for yourself the correct roaring-wall-of-water metaphor.

Regardless, any Illinois employer that either has or deals with:

  • employee handbooks
  • confidentiality
  • cannabis
  • policies
  • salary (history, sharing info, pay equity)
  • REQUIRED ANNUAL TRAINING (sexual harassment)
  • employees (probably should have just lead with that)

would be well advised (attorney-speak for "just do it") to read what David Moore and Peter Gillespie have to say and then execute said prescribed actions elucidated (attorney-speak for "just do it") (attorneys have a rather extensive alternative vocabulary).

If you are looking to spice up your next firing and/or seek more of a challenge in the aftermath, stir things up with one of these techniques the next time you give someone the boot.

NY Reporting immigration status can be unneighborly . . . at best

July 31st, 2019

Subhash Viswanathan at Bond, Schoeneck & King

As of October 27, 2019, New York employers will not only be unneighborly if you:

"threaten, penalize, or in any manner discriminate or retaliate against any employee by threatening to contact or contacting United States immigration authorities or otherwise reporting or threatening to report the citizenship or suspected immigration status of an employee or an employee's family member in retaliation for an employee's complaints about alleged violations of the New York Labor Law"

you might also go to jail.

And write a check for $10,000. Or $20,000 if you are extremely unneighborly and it is your second "threaten, penalize, discriminate, retaliate" offense.

Oh, and back pay. Did I mention back pay?

Somebody shows up at the office in essentially shamrock underwear.

Finances dictate you terminate someone so you tell them you will pay them their accrued vacation pay if they will release all claims.

Your mail room clerk says the office manager asked her to man the grill at the office picnic - who's grilling who?

The office softball team and workers' comp – 'nuff said.

Robin Shea says more about all of this.

RIF - Reductions In Force Require Initial Fundamentals

June 20th, 2019

Jean Ohman Back at Schwabe

Reading Is Fundamental has been a part of children’s literacy since 1967. Reductions In Force have been a part of the labor landscape since the 1980s. We just made up Require Initial Fundamentals.

RIF requires volunteers and donations - consider providing your support. RIFs require a sequential list of fundamentals needed to help a company refocus and rebuild while avoiding legal liability - consider Jean Ohman Back your support (for the Reduction in Force stuff).

While none of us at hrsimple.com have a favorite Reduction In Force, here are some of our favorite chilldhood books:

FMLA - speak clearly and carefully and explicitly

April 25th, 2019

Fiona Ong at Shawe Rosenthal

What not to say to an employee seeking FMLA leave:

  • "I'll take care of it."
  • "You're terminated."
  • "What's FMLA?"
  • "I will obtain the required form from the doctor for you but then just fax the form and forget about it."

Fiona Ong shares a story and some lessons and calls her teenagers crazy. 

Termination and social media posts - peanut butter and vinegar?

April 25th, 2019

Aaron Holt at Cozen O'Connor

Termination can be sticky/messy (think peanut butter). It's also part of your job.

Social media can be sweet/sour (think vinegar). It can also be part of the workplace.

Aaron Holt provides some examples of social media and termination combining to produce different results, then shares three pieces of practical advice when it happens to you .

And for the record, termination could have been oil and social media could have been jelly. But what kind of sauce is that?

How to Address an Unflattering Video of an Employee

January 25th, 2019

Robin Shea at Constangy

If it hasn't happened yet, there is a good chance that one of your employees will show up in a posted video in a less than flattering light, and that light is going to reflect on your company.

Days past, you would have taken the video at face value and determined disciplinary actions, maybe even termination, based solely on the video.

Knee-jerk doesn't work any more. Maybe now it is KnoW-jerk, as in know the employee is no jerk. And video, especially just a snippet, doesn't always tell the whole story.

Robin Shea helps you address the situation with a PR statement you should keep close at hand.

Protecting Trade Secrets when Terminating Employees

January 23rd, 2019

Stan Hill at Polsinelli

They are called secrets for a reason, and if you want to keep them so, Stan Hill has four tips for you:

  1. Cut the cord, but not too soon
  2. Remind the employee about confidentiality
  3. Gather devices
  4. $ incentives?

RIFs are NOT a cure all for bad performance management

January 23rd, 2019

Fiona Ong at Shawe Rosenthal

Some employers view a reduction in force as an apparently easy and clean way to get rid of employees they do not want – like poor performers, who have not been properly performance-managed.

Don't be one of those employers.

Fiona Ong shares why. And stay tuned, same Bat-time, same Bat-station (or at least Bat-blog), for some "what" and "how" when Fiona shares basic performance management tips so you won't be one of those employers.

Why You Should Care About Employment Law

January 23rd, 2019

Jenny Goltz at Cozen O'Connor

Common Pitfalls for Emerging Companies Founders of emerging companies are often first-time employers and find themselves having to wade through the dense patchwork of state and federal labor and employment laws. This can be a confusing undertaking that often requires legal counsel. However, there are a few very common employment law pitfalls that all emerging com...

Written warnings and the FAQs they spawn

February 6th, 2019

Ursula A. Kienbaum at Ogletree Deakins

written warning:  noun:  ritˈ'n wôrniNG

  1. a statement in a form to be read that indicates a possible or impending problem, or other unpleasant situation
  2. a statement in a form to be read that indicates that you have already vented and calmed down and aren't going to write anything stupid before you create a very unpleasant situation for the person receiving said warning

Ursula Kienbaum helps you create a calm, dispassionate, effective, reasonable written warning by answering these seven FAQs:

  • what to include?
  • what to exclude?
  • attach documents?
  • mention previous warnings/actions?
  • detail impact of the problem?
  • include possible further disciplinary action??
  • does the warning change if there is a union involved?

Cursing, surfing, weapons, gadgets – illegal, inappropriate or OK?

November 1st, 2018

Robin Shea at Constangy

It happens in almost every workplace almost every day: somebody swears or is on an iffy website or is carrying a knife (or worse) or is using their own (not secure) phone or computer to send off a quick business email or text.

So what is illegal, what is inappropriate and what is just not that a big a deal?

Robin Shea at Constangy has your answers (and answers your questions) at our November 14 webinar, “Not Suitable for Work?”

Credits available: SHRM and HRCI

Register here.

Bad hire! Bad, bad hire!

October 11th, 2018


Just like a dog, a hire can be bad for a multitude of reasons, including the hirer (trainer), the hired (dog), everyone's expectations (in both cases some praise and/or a treat), and the environment (workplace/home).

HR Dive is here to help (with the bad hire*):

"Sooner or later, even the most seasoned HR professionals will admit it: they've made a bad hire. For some reason, a person will fizzle out on the job, even though his or her stellar credentials promised a perfect fit with your company. Whether this is an entry-level person or a senior executive, the impact of a bad hire on a department or company can be devastating. So what do you do?"

HR Dive walks you through the process after you accept it was your bad (hire):

  • more common than you think
  • why is it a bad hire
  • reforming a bad hire
  • when to say goodbye
  • avoiding future bad hires

* for those of you with a bad dog (my trainer reminds me that it isn't the dog, it is in fact me), some help from BARk.

Don't feel ripped off when you get ripped off – get even

September 6th, 2018

Ed Harold at Fisher Phillips

When I was in college, we had a favorite cheer: Rip their arms off!*

What we were trying to communicate to our football, and later basketball, brethren was "Perhaps this bit of encouragement might help you gain the upper hand and steal the day!" Ed Harold provides the encouragement, and knowledge, to help you prevail when battling employee theft, including:

  • the investigation
  • how you catch the thief matters
  • the termination meeting
  • admissions of guilt
  • police involvement
  • the unemployment comp hearing

* More accurately: R-I-I-I-I-P THEIR ARMS OFF! which eventually migrated to use whenever encouragement, often in the face of overwhelming odds, was needed.

Discipline - Demote - Depart or Communicate - Counsel - Channel

August 30th, 2018


SHRM, with help from author Ogletree Deakins, explains the process of demoting an employee, including:

  1. reasons for demotion
  2. opportunities/fresh start
  3. pay reduction not necessary
  4. risk of retaliation
  5. demote or terminate
  6. communication is the key

I cannot tell a lie . . . you're fired for cutting down the cherry tree

August 8th, 2018

Robin Shea at Constangy

We all know the cherry tree mea culpa was a myth (perpetrated by a minister no less). Regardless, we all also know that "honesty is the best policy" (Ben Franklin? Shakespeare? Sir Edwin Sandys?).

Robin Shea shares why we should not tell a lie (like the Founding Father didn't tell a lie because the story wasn't not because he didn't lie) when terminating an employee, above and beyond that fact that you could get sued.

She also gets into employment agreements, unlawful motives, cronyism, and "legal lies".

No, you can't sleep on the job

August 1st, 2018

Shelby Skeabeck, formerly of Shawe Rosenthal

However, you can discipline and even terminate employees for violating work rules even though they have a legally protected condition.

"We need to talk" isn't any easier to say than to hear

October 24th, 2018

Mathew Parker at Fisher Phillips

Nobody wants to hear those four words – "We need to talk" because it isn't going to be an easy conversation.

But you probably don't want to be the one saying them either.

Fact of HR: you are going to be saying those words at some time. And the longer you avoid saying them, the greater the anxiety for you and the more the entire workplace will suffer. Mat Parker from Fisher Phillips has 5 tips to help:

  1. Identify
  2. Clarify
  3. Open mind / open ear
  4. Manage / preserve
  5. Follow up

Zero tolerance for "zero tolerance" policies

February 25th, 2019

Robin Shea at Constangy

Zero tolerance:

  • "is too blunt an instrument, and it may even increase bad behavior."
  • "doesn't (necessarily) equate to "automatic termination."
  • "(policies) may cause management, or even HR, to pull its punches."
  • "policies can actually make it harder for employers to fight workplace harassment."

Termination Series: Communicating the reason for discharge

June 12th, 2018


Do employers need to provide a reason to a discharged employee? Federal law does not require employers to provide terminated employees with a written explanation for their discharge. However, many states have litigation in place that calls for an employer to provide documentation outlining the reason for termination. This is a called a service letter, and so...

Firing, a job to do right the first time

June 12th, 2018


"You’re fired." On The Apprentice, Donald Trump made it look so easy! For the rest of us, a poorly done termination could be costly. Emotions run high, there is a lot of paperwork involved, and an employer can end up with a big mess on their hands. Taking the time to do a termination properly can keep an employer out off court, so here are a few best practices to consider. 

  • Give the employee the chance to speak. In terminations, as in most things, people like to feel like they are being heard. Letting an employee let off steam or plead their case can be enough to avoid further issues. Take a few minutes to chat about the reasons behind the termination, but make sure to listen.
  • Get a reference release. Type up the basic facts of employment that would be given if a future prospective employer were to call looking for a reference down the line. Have the employee sign to avoid any future confusion or possible defamation accusations. 
  • Determine how the final paycheck will be given. Some states require final pay to be given within a certain amount of time, a few even require it be given immediately. 
  • Explain how the employee can arrange to receive benefits, if any, including COBRA continuation coverage.  Provide proper documents when applicable. 
  • Consider having the employee sign a release form. Having an employee sign a brief explanation of the reasons behind the termination and explaining that they understand any non-compete agreements or waivers of rights can be extremely useful to employers in the case of litigation.

While firing is probably not your favorite HR task (at least I hope it isn’t!), it is something that comes up now and again. Take the time to terminate correctly, otherwise you might have to fire someone twice…talk about awkward!