Monday, March 08, 2010

Letting Employees Go

From my weekly (AM) radio segment titled "Legal Minute"

During these challenging economic times, if you own a small business you might find yourself in the position of having to let certain employees go. Most employees in the U.S. are “at will” which means that you can fire them at any time and for any reason, unless that reason is illegal. Because there are limits on the conditions under which an employer can terminate an employee, making a careful decision about employee termination is important to avoid the risk of legal claims. For instance, under State and Federal laws, employers are prohibited from firing an employee for discriminatory reasons. Examples of illegal discriminatory firing are firing an employee because of their age, race, gender, national origin, religion or disability. Retaliatory firing is also illegal if, for instance, an employee attempts to assert his rights under anti-discrimination laws. In addition, employers are prohibited from firing an employee because the worker took family medical leave or complained of an illegal company activity. Lastly, if an employment contract is involved, be sure to honor those promises and adhere to the termination terms of the contract.