The 10 Commandments of Employee Terminations

ou will eventually need to terminate an employee if you own a business. If you are not careful, you will do it the wrong way. This can go spectacularly badly–just ask Vishal Garg if you’re not sure. His Zoom meeting to fire 900 people resulted in a media superstorm and him taking a leave of absence.

But if you don’t terminate people often or don’t have experts on staff to help you through it, you may inadvertently make some of these mistakes.

Fortunately, Stuart Silverman, who runs his own law firm as a Labor & Employment Law, Litigation, Corporate & Business Law Attorney, wrote ten commandments for terminations. Here are his rules, with my explanations of how they help your business do effective and fair terminations.

Please note, this is a checklist for the termination and not for determining who you will terminate.

To keep reading, click here: The 10 Commandments of Employee Terminations

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5 thoughts on “The 10 Commandments of Employee Terminations

  1. #11 Should be hashing out what will be said during a reference check or employment verification.

    Some thoughts.

    I’ve been fired (and this was a true firing–I was terrible at the job). I’ve also fired people. I later excelled at the job I took after the job that fired me. I also have no ill-will toward the people I fired and I truly do hope they found roles they could excel in.

    Not every person is the right fit for every role. Barring truly egregious behavior on the part of the employee, ensure that the person being fired at least has their dignity intact and is treated with respect. Besides, you could cross paths with this person ten years later at a different job where they are your co-worker. Or even your manager!

  2. I agree with making the process of firing an employee as professional as possible especially when dealing with an employee that the company has tried to accommodate their development/ shortcomings of job skills over a prolonged period of time. You want to make sure that you have as the saying goes—dotting every i and crossed every t—especially if you know through past dealings with the specific individual that they are sensitive to any negativity. Firing this individual will be difficult despite all preparations for the final interview. Unless they have done what is considered a fireable action—should be listed and known when hired, the company should not fight unemployment claims (for some reason I keep hearing about companies that fight unemployment claims because they don’t want to pay unemployment insurance but that’s a another whole article). Just make sure that the individual being fired is treated professionally and courteously despite their emotional distress reaction. No one reacts well to notice of a layoff even when it’s a company wide closure.

  3. One that was absent was telling them why. To fire someone and not give them a reason is wrong. Many will say that it helps limits the liability, but if you don’t have a legally justifiable reason (very low bar) then maybe you should re-think it.

    1. While I agree with that, good communication and formalized processes should already ensure that the individual knows why they are being let go – of course, this would ideally apply to performance issues or some other reasonable job related metric that is plainly understood.

      That being said.

      Employers who let people go out of the blue, without explanation, are almost always suspect. I understand the right to work goes both ways, but unexpectedly severing someone from their livelihood is too easy in this country, and at the very least workers deserve a reason.

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