The Integrity News
Vol. XI No. 25
October 3, 2002
October 2, 2002
"How to let people go legally and fairly."
You may find yourself in the position of facing
a moment of truth: Is it in the best interests of
the business to terminate an employee ?
A termination is a stressful and difficult task.
Doing the wrong things can certainly make
terminations harder, and open the door to
legal challenges. But, there are things that
you can do to preserve an employee's dignity,
limit the damage to the organization, and
reduce your legal exposure.
TAKE THE DECISION SERIOUSLY
Any decision should be based on a legitimate
business reason. For example:
o The employee has not met performance
o The employee violated company policy in
a very serious way.
o The employee consistently violates a
Your best defense against wrongful termination
charges is good labor relations, good employee
handbooks, good documentation, good
disciplinary action, and good management.
o Except in extraordinary circumstances, a
termination should not be a complete surprise.
Give the employee an opportunity to improve.
o Before terminating someone, tie up loose
ends. That means gather the facts on their
sick time, personal leave, etc. Know how
much they have worked in the current pay
period. Calculate any commissions owed.
Determine any continuing benefits status.
o Determine how much severance, if any, to
give the employee.
o Decide ahead of time the employee's exact
final date of employment.
o Consider the timing of your meeting. If you
can avoid it, don't fire employees on Friday.
It's harder for them to begin looking for a
new job on the weekend, and they may
become angrier and more frustrated.
You should meet with the employee to terminate
them. Never fire someone by email, voice mail,
or merely by changing the locks on their door.
o Know what you are going to say.
o Meet in private.
o Give them time to collect themselves.
o Never argue about the decision to terminate.
o Let the employee know that they can leave
the room at any time.
o Remain calm.
o Keep the meeting brief and to the point.
o Make no admissions, asides, excuses, or
remarks about the employee.
o If important, debrief the employee on pending
Manage the employee's departure. Be sure to
collect any company property such as computers,
cell phones, PDAs, keys, credit cards, etc.