6 Illegal reasons for firing an Employee

1. Race Is an Illegal Reason to Fire Someone

You can, of course, fire someone of any race, just not for a reason because of their race. This is true for all races — you can’t fire a white person to make a place for a person of color any more than you can fire a person of color because you prefer to hire white people.

2. Sex Is an Illegal Reason to Fire Someone

It’s illegal to fire someone for being a male or female. Federal law is clear that you cannot discriminate on this basis. A question that hasn’t been wholly settled is discrimination against transgendered employees.

3. Religion Is an Illegal Reason to Fire Someone

Whether a person is an evangelical Christian, Muslim, or an Atheist, their religious beliefs (or the lack thereof) are protected. Exceptions exist. For example, if you are a temple — if your Jewish Rabbi converts to Christianity, you can fire him, but in your for-profit business, forget it.

4. Disability Is an Illegal Reason to Fire Someone

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits firing someone because of a disability — real or perceived. You cannot terminate someone for being disabled and you have to provide reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability. Reasonable accommodations vary from business to business and job to job.

5. Age Is an Illegal Reason to Fire Someone

Age is unlike the others because you can (technically) fire someone for being too young, but not for being too old, as long as that old is over 40. After 40, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) kicks in. You can’t fire someone for getting old.

6. Pregnancy Is an Illegal Reason to Fire Someone

Pregnant women are protected under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Just because a woman will need to take some time off isn’t a sufficient reason to fire someone. If a woman has worked for you for 12 or more months, you have 50 or more employees, and she’s worked at least 1250 hours in the past year, she’s also protected by the Family Medical Leave Act, which means you need to give her up to 12 weeks of protected leave to deal with the pregnancy, birth, and bonding with the new baby.

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