California Employment Law
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You can terminate your HR manager at any time for any reason with or without any prior notice since he is an at-will employee.
However, you would want to inform him of the reasons for the termination if you want to ensure that you are not liable for his unemployment benefits, as you do have good cause for his termination.
Regardless, he wouldn't have any cause to sue you, since he can be termianted for no reason or a bad or false reason, so you don't have anything to worry about if you choose to inform him of the reasons for his termination.
If you have no issue with being liable for his unemployment insurance benefits, you can simply inform him that he is being laid off, and you don't need to provide him any further information.
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Joseph, thank you for the response!
Seems we might have a problem calling it a layoff if we then hire someone else to pick up all/part of her skills, or even stretch for a special candidate and call the new person "HR Manager."
What say you?
So... to be clear, does it matter whether we call it a layoff and then, in essence change our mind and hire someone else with the same title?