5 Things You Need to Know Before You Fire Your Employee

5 Things You Need to Know Before You Fire Your Employee

Terminating someone’s employment is never fun, but there are five things you need to know before you fire your employee to make it as smooth and painless as possible.

1. California Labor and Employment Law

California is generally an “at-will” state, meaning either the employer or employee can terminate the employment at any time for any reason or no reason. However, there can be exceptions, such as anything written into a contract or anything that is classified as discrimination, among other things. Before you fire your employee, you need to know if any exceptions apply to the situation.

2. Your Own Written Policies as stated in your Employee Handbook

Before you fire your employee, you need to know exactly what your own company policy is. This is more than your own sense of “how we do things here.” Review your Employee Handbook for what you’ve communicated officially and in writing to your employees and be sure your actions comply with your policies.

3. Facts about Why You’re Taking This Action

Even though California law says you can fire an at-will employee for any reason or no reason, this doesn’t protect you from claims of discrimination, retaliation, or wrongful discharge. If, despite your best efforts, you end up in court, you’ll need to be able to prove you had a good reason for firing your employee. So you need to gather and review the facts that have prompted you to take this action, including documented and investigated violations, incidents, prior disciplinary actions, etc.

4. Next Steps for the Fired Employee

Before you fire your employee, you also need to have all of their next steps lined up. These next steps for the fired employee include their final paycheck, unemployment options, benefits options (including COBRA), etc. Other next steps include the employee’s return of any company-owned property (keys, phones, computers, customer files, etc.).

5. A Plan for How You’re Going to Tell Them

You never want to “wing it” when firing an employee. Have a plan for who will tell the employee as well as when and where. You’ll also want to know what you’re going to tell the employee. You should stick to the facts and be clear and brief.

We’re Here to Help

Rather than defending yourself against a wrongful termination lawsuit, it’s much better to take a proactive approach and avoid litigation altogether if possible. It’s less time consuming, less costly, and less stressful.

It can be helpful to consult an attorney who specializes in labor and employment law.

This is one of our areas of practice here at Emerzian Shankar Legal Inc., and we’re here to help you mitigate risk. Contact us today or use this form to request a consultation.