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Facts - Books - News    U.S. Facts Of Law:

Hiring & Firing


Generally, a prospective employee is evaluated for employment through the use of the job interview in hopes of being hired. 

In the U.S. employers are forbidden to discriminate against job applicants on the basis of gender, race, age or sexual orientation.  Employment laws make such discrimination an illegal practice in the hiring of employees.  The asking of questions of a prospective employee directly about these areas constitutes an illegal hiring practice.


In the U.S. employees are typically hired under an "at-will" contract.  This allows either the employee or the employer to terminate the employment or fire the employee at any time for any reason whatsoever.  In recent years employers have seen their rights to terminate employment without cause attacked by the courts.

Employers are finding that firing an employee can be an expensive and risky procedure requiring extensive documentation in the event that the employee challenges the dismissal.  Fired employees can be more easily convinced to provide competitors with trade secrets or to expose illegal practices going on at the company.  Also, the former employer is required to finance any unemployment benefits that may be awarded to the fired or laid off worker.

The most severe form of employee termination is "firing" the employee.  A less sever form of termination occurs when a company is forced to downsize or experiences a slowing of the business and an employee is "laid off" with a possible expectation that the employee could be re-hired when business picks up again.  Lay offs of large numbers of employees occurs in the U.S. with regularity as companies re-size and otherwise struggle to compete.

Other Types of Termination:

Forced Resignations

To avoid some of the repercussions of firing an employee, an employee about to be fired may be asked to submit his or her resignation.  This method of firing is often used when dealing with a high-profile employee such as a manager, executive, officer or other highly positioned employee.  By allowing the employee to offer a resignation the company reduces the risk involved with an outright firing and may avoid the appearance of a ruthless or hostile employer.  The benefits to the employee to resign rather than be fired includes the saving of face for the employee and the better prospects to obtain another job by not having to admit to being fired to new prospective employer.

Changing Conditions

Sometimes an employer may wish an employee to quit but doesn't want to resort to a firing or a forced resignation.  In these cases the employer may lower the employees responsibilities or working conditions in hopes that the employee will leave voluntarily.  The employee could be transferred to an undesirable geographical area, assigned menial tasks, given fewer working hours, demoted or asked to work an undesirable shift.  The employee might also be subjected to unfair punishment for things that are overlooked with other employees.  Many employees subjected to such conditions will find other work where opportunities appear more promising and management doesn't seem to "have it out" for the employee.


An employee may be terminated as a result of the down sizing of a companies work force. Such terminations are known as layoffs or furloughs.  Companies are constantly evaluating their need for more or fewer employees in light of production demands and instead of hiring more employees may decide it has too many employees for current conditions.  While many companies will try to transfer or find other jobs for employees scheduled for layoff this is not always possible and the laying off of employees may be the only solution to a company's down sizing.  In some cases, the employee may regain his or her job when conditions permit the company to add more employees.

Hiring and firing can be a slippery slope for employers with the many pitfalls being avoided.



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Facts of Law concerning employee hiring and firing practices

Facts of Law - Employee Hiring and Firing