You don’t want to fire an employee, especially in this tight labor market, but sometimes you have to do it. Lots of things may cross your mind including a possible law suit or revenge by the employee. The best way to protect yourself and your firm is to document all of your actions and provide a forum for the employee to “have the last word,” so to speak. If you can show that you fired an employee for proper business reasons and that you acted in good faith during the termination process, you’ll stand a better chance in court.
Employment-At-Will laws exist in all states except Montana. Under these laws, theoretically you have the “right” to discharge an employee at any time for any reason – or even for no reason at all. The reality of the situation is that firing is becoming more restricted because of new federal and state laws that favor employees.
Don’t let litigation stand in between you and your firm’s best interests, though. You have every right to rid yourself of a troublesome employee. Just do your homework so you won’t have to do it later. An important part of your preparation is a termination meeting script and an exit interview form. Prepare your comments for the meeting and stick with the exit interview to allow the employee to air his/her concerns.
The best way to "win" a lawsuit is to avoid it in the first place. Be assured that you do have rights under current laws. Learn more about the pitfalls and legal implications of firing.