Top Ten Tips for Terminating Employees

1.  Don't make snap decisions to terminate an employee.  Suspension is a better immediate response.

2.  Investigate the facts first. Don't rely on assumptions.

3.  Review the personnel file before a termination. Does the file (prior evaluations, warnings) support the decision?

4.  Review written policies. Is the termination consistent with policy? If not, does the policy need to be revised?

5.  Draft appropriate policies if yours are lacking.  Having a formalized procedure can be an important tool to help supervisors handle separations appropriately and consistently (but as with all policies include them in a handbook with an at-will disclaimer that the policy does not create a contract and can be changed.)

6.  Treat the employee respectfully during the process.  How the message is delivered can be as important as the message itself.

7.  How were other employees in similar circumstances treated? If they were treated differently, what is the objective and defensible reason for terminating this employee? Can the employee claim discriminatory treatment?

8. Document performance issues as they happen.  Progressive discipline is easier to defend then immediate and unsupported terminations.

9.  What is the employee's status? Has the employee recently taken a protected leave of absence or made a complaint that could be the grounds for a retaliation claim?

10.  Train employees on personnel issues, especially managers and supervisors.

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