Overview: Employee terminations are restricted for certain reasons or without proper procedures. While Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act prohibits termination which discriminates against protected classes of workers, state law can be more expansive in creating classes of workers who are eligible for such protections, shielding employees who are not covered by federal law. Similarly, some states have broader restrictions against retaliatory terminations for certain types of protected activities, like filing workers' compensation claims and for blowing the whistle on unlawful or wasteful practices in the workplace.
Federal and state law also requires employers to utilize notification procedures when they plan to lay off large numbers of employees or close an entire facility. The federal WARN Act sets the minimum standard for covered employers, but some states impose even stricter requirements on employers based on the number of employees they plan to discharge.
Employees leave a company for other reasons as well, through retirement and resignations, some of which can be viewed as forced resignations or constructive discharges. Exit interviews and managing the exit process should be handled consistently and in compliance with federal and state law.
Trends: Employers are increasingly gravitating toward severance packages for employees terminated involuntarily in exchange for waivers or releases of claims against the employer. With these systems in place, employers can preemptively eliminate post-termination threats by providing outgoing employees with something of value. Employers must be prudent, however, in ensuring that such termination agreements are enforceable by crafting agreements in easily digestible language, providing valuable consideration in exchange for waivers and fully documenting the exchange.
Author: Michael Jacobson, JD, Legal Editor
California employers seeking to provide an overview of separation from employment, including classifications of the types of separation and recommended procedures, should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
California employers seeking to advise employees of their responsibility to return company property when separating from employment should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
California employers seeking to advise employees of the company's exit process should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Multistate employers face the challenge of complying with not only federal laws, but also differing state and local laws. This section highlights some of the states' differences in terms of preemployment testing and background checks, noncompetition and nonsolicitation agreements, and discrimination, pay and leave rules.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Indiana employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to employment at-will doctrine.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Kentucky employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to the employment-at-will doctrine.
Michigan employees who use medical marijuana may be eligible to collect unemployment benefits.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Michigan employment law requirements HR must follow in respect to involuntary terminations.
As mandated by the State of California, Department of Insurance (DIC) and the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC), all employers with between two and 19 full-time employees are required to provide this California Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (CalCOBRA) Notice and Election Form.
On January 15, 2015, the Vermont "mini-WARN" law went into effect. The Vermont Notice of Potential Layoffs Act adds state-level notification requirements to the current requirements under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act.
Guidance for HR on understanding and complying with federal and state law regarding legal and fair employee terminations.