Pre-Firing Checklist: Questions Every Employer Should Ask Before Discharging an Employee

  1. Was the offense that precipitates the firing serious enough by itself to warrant termination?
  2. If not, was the employee afforded the complete benefit of the progressive or other disciplinary system?
  3. Is there any employment contract or collective bargaining agreement that addresses grounds and procedures for termination?
  4. Is an at-will employment relationship exists, is there any basis on which the employee can assert that promises were made or an implied contract of employment came into existence.
  5. Is the timing right?
  6. Has the employer conducted a thorough investigation of the circumstances leading to the termination?
  7. Has the employer documented the employee’s disciplinary history, his or her failure to respond to corrective and punitive forms of discipline, the circumstances precipitating the termination, and the investigative steps taken by the employer?
  8. Will the employee’s termination give rise to a suggestion of discrimination, or impact unfairly upon any particular group or class of employees? If so, can the employer justify its conduct within the parameters of the law?
  9. Has company property, under the control of the employee, been properly secured or safeguarded?
  10. Will the termination adversely affect business or client relationships? If so, what protective steps should be taken?
  11. Will the termination adversely affect employee morale, and if so, what steps should be taken to address this risk?
  12. Is the employee likely to make an unemployment claim, and if so, has the legal basis for discharge been carefully documented?

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