You may have a bunch of legal reasons to fire an employee but still face court penalties for not following the lawful process of firing an employee. To legally fire an employee, you must be clinical and cut off all corners of legal claims. No one wants to be out of a job. As a source of living, protecting it is everyone's priority, unless the employee already has plans and expecting the dismissal.
Poor performance, insubordination, dereliction of duties or dishonest are some of the reasons why a company may want to fire an employee. It is also possible that the company no longer require the employee's position. Regardless of the reason, it is every employer's duty to fire an employee legally to avoid any form of penalty from judicial review. However, the system to fire an employee depends on the existing regulation; mostly that established between the worker and the employer.
Employment on "at-will" or contract basis
If there is no employment contract between the employer and the employee, the worker is free to terminate the job at any time. Similarly, the employer has right to fire the employee for no reason. Note: this agreement model is only valid in some states. Also, "at-will" basis of employment is not above discrimination, public policy, and any promise you have made during the employment.
Contract employment demands an existing corporate policy upon which you have right to make claims of code violation to legally fire an employee. And the policy must not state a different punishment.
How to fire an employee legally
You should not surprise the employee with the information that he or she is fired. Due process is required and the employee should already know what it's costing your office to accept underperformance or bridge of conduct unless you're dismissing the employee because business is not going well. In this case, the employee would also be expecting a move from you since profits are no longer coming.
Evaluate reasons and keep records
If you are terminating an employee for a behavioral misconduct such as substance abuse, you must follow your office policy on what to do when an employee comes drunk at work. Keep records of the employee's behavior and efforts to help the employee. In the case of poor performance, records of retraining should be available and the employee should be aware of your concern. Discuss your corporate policy concerning the employee's violation with the employee and make the penalty clear. This is important if you need to refer to it during termination meeting or judicial review.
It's important to prepare the employee's final check. Choose your date to give the information and prepare to hand over all pending duties the employee is yet to complete.
Choose a private place
If the employee has a private office, that may be the best place to have the termination meeting. Otherwise, choose somewhere private to respect the employee's feelings and offer space to regroup to face co-workers or customers after the meeting.
Choose official firing words
Consider not painting the words or sound as if you are not sure of the decision. Be very clear and don't open doors for augments. Give the employee the necessary information which includes final compensation, unemployment, etc.
Disclaimer: Every termination case is unique and requires a special approach. Also, state and federal employment laws may slightly affect your right. But the information here is a comprehensive guide to legally fire an employee.