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How to fire an employee (the right way)

On Behalf of | Jun 22, 2018 | Business Law |

Firing someone is stressful. It’s never the goal of an employer to let someone go, but sometimes an employee makes it impossible to do anything else.

If you’ve tried warnings, reprimands and everything else you can think of doing to no avail, then follow these tips to fire an employee with the maximum amount of professional courtesy and a minimum of potential trouble:

1. Have your documentation in order

Make sure that you have a record of all the write-ups, disciplinary acts and prior attempts you’ve made to get the employee back on track. Your documentation will be key if the employee tries to say that he or she was fired for an invalid or illegal reason.

2. Keep a witness in the room during the process

Having a witness in the room as you conduct the firing is an important precaution. A lot of litigation over employment terminations can end up coming down to who the jury believes more. A second person can also assist you in keeping any discussion focused strictly around the employee’s job performance — instead of veering off into personal matters.

3. Be as brief as possible when you speak

The more you say, the bigger the possibility that the employee will find fault with it. Stick to the basics and wish the employee well. If necessary, rehearse what you want to say beforehand.

4. Ask the employee to turn over important items

You need to make certain that the fired employee turns over his or her pass, key, badge and any company-issued electronic devices. In addition, make certain that the employee is accompanied on the way out of the building. Make sure that there’s no last-minute access to any electronic systems, especially involving customer accounts. You need to think in terms of security for both your company and your other staff members.

Finally, remember that you need to treat the matter as a private issue. You don’t want to say anything to damage the employee’s reputation with his or her co-workers. The odds are good that everyone in the office is aware of the problem already, so don’t feel the need to explain why this individual is no longer working there.

Source:, “Top 10 Don’ts When You Fire an Employee,” Susan M. Heathfield, accessed June 15, 2018


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