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Is there a right way to fire an employee?

Owning a business comes with a variety of responsibilities. You may not mind taking care of most of them, but one that you, and many other Ohio business owners, hope to avoid as much as possible is firing an employee. When you hire those who work for you, you anticipate a long and productive employer/employee relationship.

Unfortunately, your relationship with a particular employee is not working out as you had hoped. You are considering terminating his or her employment, but you want to make sure you do it in a way that protects your company and helps keep the situation from becoming hostile or more adversarial than it needs to be for everyone involved.

Tips for terminating an employee

Once you make the decision to terminate an employee, consider the following tips for making the process as amiable as possible:

  • Make sure you have at least one witness in the room with you when you have the conversation. Someone who serves in the human resources capacity would be an ideal choice.
  • Make sure you have a checklist so you don't forget anything. This will be your one shot to cover everything, and you don't want to forget something important.
  • Make sure that you have prepared a short explanation regarding why you are terminating the employee. If you have done things correctly, he or she should not need a protracted conversation since he or she already knows the issues that led to this point.
  • Make it clear that your decision is final. Some employees may try to "talk you out of it," and they need to know you have made this decision after considering all the facts and factors.
  • Make sure your words are kind and respectful. Few things will escalate a situation faster than harsh words.
  • Make sure you retrieve all company property prior to the end of the meeting, such as badges, keys, laptops, phones and other items.
  • Make sure someone escorts the employee out of the office. If he or she has personal items, the company can send them to him or her, or you could allow him or her to return after hours to pick up personal items, but only with an escort.
  • Make sure that the employee does not have access to the company's files, computers or networks on the day of the termination. During the meeting, someone should remove the employee's computer and network access.
  • Make sure to have the employee's final paycheck ready, and try to end the meeting on some sort of positive note. Being fired is unpleasant enough, and allowing him or her to leave with some sort of dignity wouldn't hurt.

As difficult as the situation is for you, it is even more so for the employee. If you can make the situation less uncomfortable while maintaining your authority and commitment to your decision, it would be a good thing. It may also help ensure that the employee will not consider making a wrongful termination claim against your company. It would also be a good idea to consult with an attorney prior to the termination meeting to make sure your actions remain within legal parameters.

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