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Letting Someone Go? 7 Best Practices for Termination
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Talent Acquisition

Letting Someone Go? 7 Best Practices for Termination

Most managers would agree: the least favorite part of their jobs is

terminating employees. This anxiety, combined with an inherently

uncomfortable situation, can lead to mistakes and potential legal

troubles. For example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

(EEOC) awarded $42 million in monetary penalties in 2012 to employees

who were subjects of discrimination. In addition, more than half of

wrongful termination lawsuits are won by the former employee.

Reduce your risk of lawsuits and lessen the traumatic impact of a

termination by following these seven best practices:

1. Base your decision on facts, not emotions

Make sure your decision to terminate an employee is based on provable

facts and is only for business reasons. Otherwise, you may run into

trouble if the termination reason is questioned later on.

2. Make sure everything is well-documented

Documentation is your best defense in the event of a lawsuit. Even

employment attorneys are often surprised at the lack of documentation

companies maintain about the employee’s performance and their reasons

for termination. Don’t let the conversation devolve into “he said, she

said” by backing up your assertions with hard proof.

3. Have the meeting in person

Resist the urge to take the easy way out and terminate an employee via

email or phone. Have the meeting in person. Include only yourself, the

employee and possibly one other manager or HR representative. Having

another person in a managerial role in the room gives you another

witness in case your actions are called into question, allows that

person to take notes if needed and discourages any abusive reaction on

the part of the employee.

4. Be honest about your reasoning

Tell the truth about why you decided to fire the employee. Provide

honest feedback on his performance or the reasons for letting him go.

If applicable, let him know that you attempted to find another position

at the company for which he would be a good fit.

5. Have a plan

The employee will probably remember this meeting for the rest of his

life, so make sure you’re prepared. Plan your termination meeting in

advance, drawing on how-to guides, templates and checklists from HR


With the right plan and execution, you can do a lot to make the

experience less uncomfortable for everyone.

6. Be consistent

Be consistent with your company’s policies, contracts and past

practices. If a lawsuit is filed, you’ll be much better off if you

followed a consistent process. Review pertinent policies and contracts

before you make a termination, so you can ensure you’re following your

own rules.

7. Treat the employee with respect

Whatever your reason for letting the employee go, he deserves to be

treated with dignity. Here are a few ways to show respect for the

departing employee:

* Don’t fire him on a Friday afternoon—he will spend the weekend

feeling helpless and cut off from all resources.

* Resist the temptation to lighten the mood by making jokes during the

termination meeting—for the employee, this is no laughing matter.

* If applicable, explain any re-employment assistance your company


* Express confidence in his future success.

* After the meeting, give him time to compose himself.

Terminations are a fact of life for managers, but by following these

best practices you can shield your organization from legal

repercussions and mitigate an unpleasant situation for departing


*You can find complete how-to guide, termination checklists and sample

exit interview forms in the HR Support Center,

a comprehensive knowledgebase of HR guides, templates and more.

Sources: EEOC Enforcement and Litigation Data, Lawyers and Settlements,

TLNT.com, HR Support Center

This content is intended for educational purposes only and should not

be considered legal advice.