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Firing an Employee

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 5, 2006

Every employer should exercise caution when firing an employee. Not handling the termination according to government regulations could create serious problems.

In right-to-hire states, you can fire an employee for any reason, as long as you don’t discriminate and don’t violate federal or state laws. In states without right-to-hire laws, exercise more caution. If you can’t show proper cause or substantiation, an ex-employee could sue you for wrongful termination.

Regardless of which state you’re in, you can fire or lay off a worker when business is slow, although you may have to show cause. Build your case before you let the ax fall. To find out about employment regulations, contact your state employment regulatory office. Also, create an employee handbook. You can use one of numerous software programs available for less than $100.

To protect yourself from discrimination charges, you must demonstrate that you took fair actions with the employee and that you have established a record of similar actions when previous incidents occurred. Your records must be specific, objective, complete, and consistent. Be sure to include:

1. Detailed documentation of violations, including witness statements if available.

2. Written warnings of violations that include the employee’s signature or the signature of a witness if the employee refuses to sign.

3. Specific notes about the employee’s work performance, including absenteeism, tardiness, or insubordination to management, other employees, or customers.

Gene Fairbrother
ShopTalk 800® Business Consultant
National Association for the Self-Employed

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