Mature BusinessTALENT

Dismissing Employees


The regulations governing the hiring and firing of employees are so numerous and complex that some employers may feel they cannot downsize, even when it’s necessary or justified.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) processes thousands of charges of wrongful discharges a year. Author Susan M. Heathfield captures the popular perception when she writes, “In employment discrimination lawsuits, the business always loses.”

That said, businesses have legitimate reasons to let people go.

The bottom line is that it’s never easy to dismiss anyone, but when it can’t be avoided, it must be done in a professional, legal, non-discriminatory manner.

Acceptable Reasons for Dismissal

  • “At will” employment agreements allow dismissals for any reason
  • Economic reasons for trimming payroll
  • “For cause” dismissals may be based on poor work performance, failure to follow company policies, or criminal behavior
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Unacceptable Reasons for Dismissal

Wrongful termination includes discrimination as defined by:

  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
  • Breach of contract, including implied contracts or covenants
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How to Dismiss an Employee

  • Prepare in advance, with clear and specific employee policies
  • Document problems and your efforts to correct them
  • Review the decision with supervisor, head of HR, legal counsel
  • Write a dismissal notice
  • Hold a dismissal meeting
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Obligations to Dismissed Employees

  • Managing the relationship
  • COBRA coverage
  • The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990 (OWBPA)
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