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 Issue with terminating employee

April 26 2024

Issue with terminating employee
          I have an employee that recently had some issues with my other employees. I had sent one employee home for the day.  He told me that night on the phone that he was going to quit and his last day would be 4/26. I told him ok. Thanks for everything but I won’t be using you anymore. He got upset with me and told me that I’m firing him and he’s going to seek legal action.
          Not sure under what basis but I want to make sure I’m covered. Should I pay him the 2 weeks anyway?
          Employment law is as intricate and vital to your business as “alarm law”, which we can define as laws pertaining and important to the alarm industry.  Employment law affects all businesses.  The Employment Department at K&K, headed by Jennifer Kirschenbaum and staffed with knowledgeable attorneys and paralegals are available to our alarm clients; you should take advantage of these professionals.
          It’s becoming too easy for employees and former employees to sue employers and the real problem is that in most jurisdictions the risk of a jury trial is much too risky.  Juries can award ridiculous amounts of money and though perhaps not quite as risky, depending on a judge to reduce the award to resemble something reasonable is also too risky.  Bottom line, do your best to stay out of the line of fire.  How:
  *  know proper employment practices, confirmed by your counsel
  *  have knowledgeable counsel available to assist with the every-day issues that arise
  *  carry insurance for employment issues [its not part of the general liability policy]
  * use K&K Employment Agreements
  *  if you have 10 or more employees get a K&K Employee Handbook
          It’s difficult to provide counsel in the above situation.  It would have been better to get a written resignation from the employee when he first announced his intention to leave.  Then we would need to know if you have “employment at will” which is the law in most states unless changed by contract.  Your decision to tell an employee to leave immediately is your prerogative in an “at will” employment relationship.  Also, absent a provision in an Employment Agreement or Handbook, a discharged employee is not entitled to severance or to be paid once they leave, involuntarily or on by their own choice.
          Whether you should pay this employee for two weeks may depend on more than what the law would permit.  You don’t mention if the employee is in a “protected class”, and even if he is, he did announce his resignation, though doesn’t sound like you have it in writing or recorded.
          Paying the two weeks may end the matter.  Deciding you don’t have to and won’t may come back to haunt you whether you’re right or not.

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301