Firing Employees -- Do's and Don'ts

Mark S Guralnick

Written by

Family Law Attorney

Contributor Level 14

Posted over 4 years ago. 1 helpful vote




Document the employee's performance, discipline, absenteeism, and other relevant criteria. Maintain up-to-date performance evaluations, evidence of progressive discipline (such as written warnings and suspensions); payroll records; time cards or other work records, and have these items on file before the termination notice is given.



If an employee's poor performance or disciplinary infractions is threatening his job, be sure to warn the employee specifically that a failure to improve will result in termination. The risk of termination should be specified in the final warning to the employee before an actual termination takes place.


Time and Place.

Plan exactly where the termination will take place. Select an office to deliver the news. Choose a day early in the week.


Interested Parties

Determine who will participate in the process. Generally, the manager is accompanied by a human resources representative or other manager when the termination notice is delivered to the employee.


Keep it Short

State that the employee is being terminated based on performance or discipline, as the case may be. Do not recite a lengthy history of the employee's work experience; do not offer apologies or make excuses; do not defer responsibility for the decision to anybody else.


Do Not Fire In Public.

Do not embarrass the employee by firing him in the presence of his co-workers. Be mindful of the employee's privacy concerns.


Do Not Fire in Reaction.

Do not discharge an employee in the middle of a quarrel or in the midst of a confrontation. Terminations should always be planned, if even quickly, but never spontaneously announced as a hotheaded reaction to an employee's misbehavior.


Do Not Negotiate.

Do not allow the meeting with the employee to turn into a negotiation, or a long-winded explanation by the employee for his conduct.


Do Not Emphasize Power.

Do not use the termination as an opportunity to emphasize the manager's power or authority, or to underscore the employee's position of subordination. Treat the employee with dignity and professionalism.


Do Not Apologize.

Do not say that you're sorry for having to terminate the employee. Do not offer up other explanations or make risky statements to cushion the impact, such as "If it were up to me, I would give you another chance, but the management here sees it differently."


Do Not Allow Lingering.

Do not allow the disenfranchised employee to linger after receiving the bad news. He should be escorted from the building or monitored while packing his belongings. Computer access should be restricted or strictly monitored.

Additional Resources

Mark S. Guralnick's Web Site

Rate this guide

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask a Lawyer

Get free answers from experienced attorneys.


Ask now

28,956 answers this week

2,981 attorneys answering