Workplace Issues

Before Firing an Employee …

... be sure you ask these 10 questions, says the general counsel for LegalZoom.
Katie Kuehner-HebertMarch 5, 2015
Before Firing an Employee …

If employers fire workers the wrong way, they could end up in court.

So says Chas Rampenthal, general counsel for online legal resource solutions site LegalZoom, who outlined in an Entrepreneur article Thursday 10 questions managers should ask themselves before giving an employee a pink slip.

  1. Am I abiding by company policy?

“If your company has a policy for dismissing employees, be sure to follow it meticulously, Rampenthal advises. “If you don’t, then you better come up with one and follow it.”

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Templates are available for free online from sources such as The HR Specialist and The Society For Human Resource Management, he said.

  1. Am I being fair?

If the firing is for cause, take into account who is tattling on the employee and make sure disciplinary practices are consistent, Rampenthal said.

“If a supervisor or co-worker supplied the reason for termination, be absolutely certain that it’s good info,” he said. Also, if someone is “getting fired for being late two times, even if your policy allows it, make sure that others who were late two times were also fired. Basically, have a valid reason.”

If you’re not fair across all employees, it can backfire and lead to legal trouble.”

  1. Am I following state and federal employment law?

Rampenthal said the managers should first consult with their human resources personnel or an employment attorney ahead of the termination, or research applicable employment laws themselves, if needed. The U.S. Department of Labor’s rules and regulations are here, and each state’s labor laws here.

Here are the six other questions that employers should ask themselves before firing:

  1. What documentation of the cause of termination is needed?
  2. Where and when should I fire the employee?
  3. Should I break the news to my other employees?
  4. What should I say to the employee when I fire him or her?
  5. What loose ends do I need to tie up?
  6. What should I do if I hear from the terminated employee again?
  7. What should I do if a potential future employer of the fired employee calls me for a reference check?

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