Reasons to Fire Someone:

1. Termination for behavior.

Behavioral issues are a common reason for firing someone. If management has put in the time to try to correct bad behavior and documented it, but the problem continues or worsens, it's time to let the employee go. Allowing bad behavior to continue after warnings sets a bad example and hurts morale.

2. Termination for performance.

Employees who cannot meet performance goals are often terminated after being given a chance to improve. If training and reviews haven't worked, it's a sign that they may just be in the wrong position. If you can't move them into another position, it's time to terminate.

3. Termination for bad attitude.

Termination for bad attitude may be tough, legally speaking. If the employee works at-will, you may be better off not giving a reason. If the employee is not at-will and must be fired for cause, you'll need to document specific examples of the attitude problems first.

4. Termination for insubordination.

If an employee refuses to carry out duties that are part of the job description, refuses to carry out a lawful and ethical directive by management, or is disrespectful toward a manager or supervisor, it's time to consider terminating for insubordination. You'll want to carefully document any instances of it.

5. Termination for sexual harassment.

Employers who do not heed sexual harassment complaints risk being held liable for a hostile work environment. If there is specific evidence, document it well. If an employee works at-will, and evidence is unclear, it may be best to fire them without giving a reason.

6. Termination for attendance.

If employee attendance consistently violates company policy, it may be time to fire them. Be sure to document each case of it, and make the employee aware of the consequences of continued absences or tardiness.

7. Termination for bullying.

Workplace bullying, or workplace harassment, in the form of unwelcome, hostile behavior, is often a reason for termination. Document all complaints about it and make the consequences clear.

8. Termination for safety violations.

Terminating an employee for safety violations can be risky, even if merited, because it can potentially be seen as retaliating against an employee for reporting safety issues. Get legal assistance if safety issues are leading you to consider firing someone.

Other situations may precipitate a firing as well, such as a serious code of conduct breach or when an employee simply stops showing up, in which case you have a job abandonment.

How to Fire an Employee:

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Step-by-step guide to terminating employees.


Understand your company's termination process.


Verify the reason for termination.

Verify the reason for termination.

Have a look at your company's employee handbook and ensure that your grounds for wanting to terminate the employee are not discriminatory in any way and comply with your company's policy.


Follow your company policy on termination.

Follow your company policy on termination.

Review your company's termination policy and approach your human resources and legal departments regarding your company's employee termination process.


Identify and review the problem.


Document and flag the issues.

Document and flag the issues.

Assemble the employee's past performance evaluations and document any issues and concerns relating to their performance or conduct that have been raised.


Schedule a review.

Schedule a review.

Set up a meeting with the employee to inform them of the issues and concerns, reviewing their performance thus far, and present them with a warning notice.


Give them a probation period to fix the problems.

Give them a probation period to fix the problems.

Depending on the termination cause, you may want to give the employee a probation period during which they can attempt to work on the issue(s) raised. Should the problem persist or not have been addressed adequately, you'll want to proceed with the termination of employment.


Set up a meeting and break the bad news.


Schedule a meeting with the employee.

Schedule a meeting with the employee.

Arrange a meeting with the employee in question and have someone from the human resources department or someone within management attend to act as a witness.


Keep it short and factual.

Keep it short and factual.

It is best not to procrastinate when it comes to firing and to get straight to the point. Keep the termination meeting short and stick to the facts. Be respectful, clear, and firm.

While providing a employe termination letter is not required by federal law, it is required in some states.


Ask for a release.

Ask for a release.

Incentivize the employee to sign a release form, releasing your company from any liability.

Final Thoughts:

In the end, terminating an employee is not going to be enjoyable, and you probably won't feel great about yourself afterward. That's just part of being human. If you've created a solid process around terminating employees, though, this will ultimately be a better situation for you and your coworkers.


How do you fire an employee legally?

  1. Revisit performance reviews.
  2. Document issues, and make the employee aware of them.
  3. Schedule another review.
  4. Give them a probation period to fix the problems.
  5. Don’t procrastinate when it comes to firing.
  6. Keep the termination meeting short, stick to the facts, and be clear and firm.
  7. Incentivize them to sign a release.
  8. Have them leave the premises immediately.

Can you be fired without a warning?

It depends on your employment agreement. For example, at-will employment agreements allow employers to fire employees without warning. In addition, if an employee has a solid legal reason to fire you, he may do so with short notice.

Do employers have to give a reason for termination?

Legally, not all employees have to give a reason. However, some states require a service letter if the employee requests a reason for termination.

Which is the easiest way to terminate an employee?

  1. Be clear and concise.
  2. Avoid humiliating the employee.
  3. Ensure your decision is legal.
  4. Provide enough warning.
  5. Inform the rest of your employees once it's complete.

What qualifies as wrongful termination?

Firing an employee for any discriminatory reasons including age, gender, ethnicity, nationality, and disability. View our wrongful termination article for more information.

Can I just fire an employee?

If your employees fall under at-will employment, you can fire them for any reason, or no reason at all. However, you cannot fire employees for discriminatory reasons such as age, gender, ethnicity, nationality, disability, etc., or if the employee is under contract, in which case the terms of the contract will apply.

What are the five fair reasons for dismissal?

  • Insubordination.
  • Sexual harassment.
  • Poor attendance.
  • Bullying.
  • Poor behavior.

What does termination for cause mean?

Termination for cause is when an employee is fired for a specific reason. This includes violating laws, violating the employee code of conduct, threatening or harassing colleagues or clients, unethical behavior, unsafe behavior, and more.

Is there a "how to fire someone" letter?

You are not obliged to provide the terminated employee with any documentation, however, many companies provide an employee termination letter out of courtesy.

Can I fire someone on probation?

Under the at-will doctrine, an employer may terminate an employee at any time, even during a probationary period. Before considering termination, you might want to place the employee on a performance improvement plan to rectify their behavior.

Do employers have to give written warnings before firing someone?

No, but only if they're at-will employees. If the employee has signed an employment contract that stipulates their duration of work, firing them without warning might be considered wrongful termination. However, if the contract specifies a code of conduct and the employee infringes these rules, it can be considered grounds for dismissal.

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