Take the Fear Out of Firing Someone – A Checklist to Keep You Compliant

By Hunter Lott, a nationally known staffing and management consultant who operates the HR site HunterLott.com.

 Sometimes the choice to fire a worker is a  no-brainer. But more often than not, a termination decision isn’t always black and white.Throw in that the always-present legal risks involved, and what may have seemed like an easy decision can get complicated very quickly.

Well, good news: Now there’s a checklist to help you decide when a worker’s behavior is grounds for  termination.

15-point checklist for a safe termination

Here’s Lott’s “termination questionnaire,” which covers virtually all the factors employers need to consider before cutting an employee loose:

  •  Was a specific policy violated and does the violation warrant termination?
  •  Show me the policy!
  •  Have other employees been held accountable to the same policy?
  •  Prove the employee knowingly violated the policy!
  •  Do we have confirmation that the employee did indeed violate the policy?
  •  How did the employee react when confronted with the violation?
  •  Has the employee complained of harassment or unfair treatment?
  •  Has the employee recently filed a workers’ compensation claim?
  • Is the employee about to vest in certain benefits or involved  in union activities?
  • Has the employee returned from, or applied for, military or medical leave?
  • Has the employee recently complained of company wrongdoing or safety issue?
  • Are there any current grievances or complaints pending from or about the employee?
  • Were any promises made verbally, or in writing, to this employee by senior management?
  • Were any requested accommodations denied to this employee?
  • Is there evidence of discrimination based on age, sex, race, religion, national origin, disability or any other legally protected characteristic?


Now what?

Once you’ve considered all these issues, your company can make an informed decision about whether or not termination’s a good idea.

Just because some problems may come up through this process – say, for instance, the employee has made a recent complaint about his supervisor – you don’t have to reverse the termination decision.

However, it is likely you will need strong documentation that explains the circumstances and management’s rationale for its actions.


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