Firing Restrictions in Written
What's one of the easiest ways to find yourself defending a wrongful
discharge lawsuit? Fire an employee under circumstances that violate a fair
employment law. Numerous federal, state, and even local laws restrict an
employer's right to fire an employee for discriminatory or retaliatory reasons.
Many fair employment laws exempt certain businesses. For
example, it is not uncommon for such laws to provide exemptions
for employers having some minimum number of employees. However, merely
because you qualify for a law's exemption does not mean that
you're free to fire those employees whom the law was designed to
protect without any risk of being sued. Courts can,
effectively, extend the law to you under the "public
policy" theory. The fact that a law protecting a
certain class of employees was adopted generally indicates a
public policy in favor of that protection.
fair employment laws: Federal laws protect employees against various
forms of discrimination in the workplace. This protection lasts throughout
the entire employment relationship, including the period leading up to and
ending with an employee's separation from the business. Thus, for example,
you could run afoul of federal law if you fire an employee solely on the
basis of the employee's race, color, religious preferences, gender, national
origin, disabilities (including substance abuse problems), or age.
firing restrictions: Every state has its own laws that make it unlawful
for an employer to fire an employee under certain circumstances. Many states
have their own discrimination laws that offer employees similar, if not
broader, protections as the corresponding federal laws. For example, state
laws, unlike their federal counterparts, may protect employees from
discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or personal appearance.
Furthermore, many state laws apply to employers that corresponding federal
laws exempt from their coverage. Other frequently encountered limitations
prevent employees from being fired merely because they file claims for
workers' compensation benefits, report an employer's illegal activity, serve
on jury duty, or refuse to take a lie detector test.