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October 29, 2008

The Ten Commandments of Hiring and Firing

Filed under: Performance Management — Tags: , 8:01 am


1.  Follow closely all relevant company policies related to hiring, e.g. re: application and offer process, interviews, and EEO.  If you do not have any such policies, get some and train all persons who are to use them
2.  Be aware of relevant state and local laws, as well as national ones (e.g. – San Francisco City ordinance precludes discrimination based on sexual orientation, Florida based on marital status and Wyoming based on tobacco use)
3.  Learn about and train all employees to avoid inappropriate inquiries
4.  Be consistent in your decisions to avoid allegations of disparate treatment
5.  Act on the basis of job-related factors
6.  Document such things as eligibility to work in the United States after job offers
7.  Carefully verify the legality of and business justification for any pre-employment testing (drugs, psychology etc.)
8.  Use at-will statements and contract disclaimers on application forms and offer letters and avoid statements re: job security, probationary periods, tenure and reasons for discharge, unless you intend to create a contract, which should be done in writing
9.  Do not make promises you may not be able to keep – (e.g. “We will review your application against future openings”)
10. Be humane and professional.  Revenge is the motive for many employment lawsuits.

1.  Follow closely all relevant company policies related to discharge, e.g. re: termination, progressive discipline and EEO.  If you do not have any such policies, get some and train all persons who are to use them.
2.  Do not act alone.  Two heads are better than one.  Two witnesses are better than one.  Avoid the “he said/she said scenario” played out by Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas.
3.  Never act out of anger.  Wait until you are no longer angry and investigate thoroughly before deciding what to do.  In an emergency, suspend (with pay for exempt employees)
4.  Do not give assurances of job security, long-term employment.  Otherwise you may be creating contracts.  If you have a contract, follow it.
5.  Honestly and fairly evaluate employees and performance reviews during performance reviews and document the same.  In other words, be proactive in trying to avoid problems before it is necessary to terminate.
6.  Act based on job-related factors, not on personality or other factors not related to the job.
7.  Be consistent.  Discrimination claims thrive where similar circumstances are not treated similarly.
8.  Be reasonable in establishing expectations of your employees and give clear notice of the same.
9.  Document your decision in writing.  Remember that whatever you write will be “Exhibit A” in any lawsuit.
10. Be humane and professional.  Many lawsuits are filed for reasons of revenge.


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