In India we constantly hear how easy it is for US firms to "hire and fire" and how our labour laws need to be changed for Indian firms to be competitive and to increase labour mobility. So this BusinessWeek article called Fear Of Firing might come as a surprise:
"It has never been easier for U.S. workers to go to court and allege that they've been sacked unfairly. Over the past 40 years federal, state, and local lawmakers have steadily expanded the categories of workers who enjoy special legal protection—a sprawling group that now includes women, minorities, gays, whistleblowers, the disabled, people over 40, employees who have filed workers' compensation claims, and workers who have been called away for jury duty or military service, among others. Factor in white men who believe that they are bias victims—so-called reverse-discrimination lawsuits—and 'it's difficult to find someone who doesn't have some capacity to claim protected status,' observes Lisa H. Cassilly, an employment defense attorney at Alston & Bird in Atlanta."
The article also goes on to say who should be pulling up their socks to ensure that underperformers actually go:
But it's often the supervisors themselves who bear much of the blame when HR says someone can't be shown the door. That's because most fail to give the kind of regular and candid evaluations that will allow a company to prove poor performance if a fired employee hauls them into court. Honest, if harsh, reviews not only offer legal cover, but they're also critical for organizations intent on developing top talent.