You're fired! How to navigate the legality of lay-offs

IBM was recently hit with a claim of ageism in regards to employee termination

You're fired! How to navigate the legality of lay-offs

When it comes to firing an employee, it’s imperative act cautiously. Blunders in the termination process are not only costly in the courts, they also have the propensity to ruin an organization’s brand.

IBM was recently hit with a lawsuit, alleging the tech giant discriminated against three former employees on the basis of their age. In the lawsuit, the workers claim: “Over the last several years, IBM has been in the process of systematically laying off older employees in order to build a younger workforce.”

IBM refute these claims, alleging the changes on the workforce were about “skills, not age”.

“That is why we have been and will continue investing heavily in employee skills and retraining—to make all of us successful in this new era of technology,” explained IBM spokesman Ed Barbini, in an emailed statement to Bloomberg.

And whilst this lawsuit is a singular example, it does serve to remind employers of the importance of being fully transparent and open in their firing processes.

A retail manager found this out the hard way, after she was vilified in the press for firing an employee via text – who’s son was on life support. Crystal Reynolds Fisher rushed her child to hospital and then messaged her boss at PS Food Mart in Albion to let her know she wouldn’t make her shift.

Her manager, ‘Dawn’, then informed Crystal she was fired, writing: “This isn’t how we do things, so I’ll accept you’re quitting.”

Dawn was soon relieved of her post, with a company spokesperson adding: “We investigated and have found that the situation was handled improperly and without the compassion that we value as a company. For that, we are very sorry.”

To make sure you don’t fall behind the curve when it comes to firing lawfully, HRD Canada will be presenting a webinar – You’re Fired! The Legal Issues, with Natalie MacDonald, owner of MacDonald & Associates.

In the webinar, you’ll learn what exactly constitutes a ‘just cause’ for termination, strategies to implement the best firing practices and the most common pitfalls employers fall in to.

Book your ticket, and find out more, here.


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