Every boss is faced with the tough choice of whether or not to fire an annoying employee. The employee may do good work, but you just can’t stand their attitude, their way of operating, or the way they interact with you and/or others.
See Also: 6 Ways to Avoid Employee Lawsuits
But how do you go about firing an employee you can’t stand? You can’t just fire them at will thanks to all of the labor laws set in place. So what can you do? Read on to find out how to fire employees you don’t like--but the right way!
1. Know when you CAN'T fire them
You cannot fire someone for:
- Exercising their legal rights to take medical leave, family leave, jury duty, voting leave, or military leave
- Complaining about illegal or unethical activity within your company, health and safety violations, harassment, or discrimination
You also cannot fire someone based on their age, their gender, their religion, or a disability.
What does all of this mean? You CAN fire someone who annoys you or you strongly dislike, but you have to go about it the right way.
2. Review employee contracts
In 49 states (Montana is the exception), employers are able to adopt an "at-will termination" policy. That means that you are allowed to fire employees at any time, for any reason, or even for no reason.
Check your employee contracts and consult your lawyer to see if you have this "at will" policy in place. It’s not as common as you might think, but many companies and big corporations do have this policy. If your employee signed a contract with this policy in place, you can fire that employee no problem!
3. Research their performance
If you cannot fire people at will, you need to find a problem with their performance or conduct around the office. You should research into their work history and look for examples of:
- Misconduct at the office (sexual harassment, discrimination, etc.)
- Tardiness (arriving late more than once a month)
Look over their last few performance reviews. If they have received poor reviews, it’s an excuse for you to fire them.
Have there been any disciplinary actions taken against them? Have they been suspended or sent home due to interpersonal problems? These things all provide legitimacy to your action (firing them) and will be the protection you need against wrongful termination lawsuits.
Make sure to hang onto any records of poor performance or conduct for at least a few years after the employee has been fired.
4. Know what benefits they are entitled to
When you are going to fire that employee, you need to remember that they may be entitled to certain benefits that could cost your company:
- COBRA coverage -- This is health coverage that is temporarily offered to fired employees. Unless your employee was fired for gross misconduct, you may have to pay for healthcare for a few months.
- Vested retirement plans -- If your employee invested in a 401(k) or pension with your company, they may be eligible to receive the benefits owed to them for their investments.
- Unemployment insurance -- You are legally obligated to inform fired employees if they are eligible for unemployment insurance or not. Find out more here…
- Final paycheck -- In many cases, you are obligated by law to pay that employee their final paycheck even after they were fired. Check out this Department of Labor page to find out more…
- Severance Pay -- If the employee contract states that severance pay is included, you must pay it. Find out more here…
Know what you are legally obligated to provide to your employees BEFORE terminating their employment.
Firing someone doesn’t have to be an impossible challenge. If you go about it the right way, you’ll find that the law is usually on your side!
Have you had trouble firing an employee you didn’t like? How did you manage it? Leave a comment below and share the wisdom…