How to Fire Employees Legally

You are fired

By: Laura Strachan Esq.

The corner office with a view, the premier parking spot, the bigger paycheck … being a boss is the life except when it comes to firing employees. The inevitably uncomfortable conversation is an often dreaded aspect of being in a position of power and one that almost every employer is confronted with at one time or another.

More than coming up with the right words to say, there are some major considerations every employer should also familiarize themselves with to ensure that they are firing or laying off employees legally. Here are some tips for keeping things legal…


  • Make sure that you have a valid reason for firing (or laying off) the employee.  Some invalid reasons include retaliation, complaining about OSHA violations, discrimination, alien status, and any violation of public policy.
  • Keep it confidential: a company-wide Eblast is probably not the best approach to alerting others in the employees’ situation. Rather, only telling those individuals who need to know is the best approach to ensuring that they do not hear about his firing before it happens.
  • Plan: This sounds simple enough, but considering all the legal requirements you need to comport with before firing the employee, you will also alleviate many legal concerns that may occur post-firing. This may include severance offers, monies due, terms in the employment contract, company policies, etc.
  • Keep a paper trail: keeping copies of performance reviews, relevant correspondence, and other personnel documents will help protect you should there be a lawsuit later on.
  • The employee should not be completely surprised by the firing or lay-off.  Whether it is keeping employees abreast of the company’s struggling finances or alerting the worker to poor job performance, there should be dialogue before the employment termination.

Although most of the American workforce is based on “at-will” employment, essentially meaning that the employer-employee relationship can be severed, there are still some viable concerns over a wrongful termination suit in any situation. Ensuring you have a valid reason for firing an employee and planning the conversation ahead of time will help with the actual firing and protect your company from many of the legal issues that follow.

In the end, honesty is almost always the best policy and usually appreciated as the employee can take your reasons with them as they job hunt.

For information on serving legal papers, contact a Professional Process Service, call (800) 774-6922. Representatives are available Monday-Friday 8 am – 8 pm EST.  If you found this article helpful, please consider donating.  Thank you for following our blog, A space dedicated to bringing you news on breaking legal developments, interesting articles for law professionals, and educational material for all. We hope that you enjoy your time on our blog and revisit us!  We also invite you to check out our Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers.

This entry was posted in Legal Material on by .


The information contained herein has been prepared in compliance with Section 107 of the Copyright Act. Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works. The articles/Images contained herein serve as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, educational, and research-as examples of activities that qualify as fair use. Undisputed Legal Inc. is a Process Service Agency and “Not A Law Firm” therefore the articles/images contained herein are for educational purposes only, and not intended as legal advice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *