Last May, I offered my tips on terminations, including not firing via cable news ticker. Apparently, my tips went unheeded by some prominent terminators. So, in an update to that post, I offer some more tips. (Warning: This post comes laced with sarcasm.)
Don’t fire someone when they have a stomach bug. When someone is vomiting or plagued with diarrhea, it’s considered bad manners to terminate them when they are on the toilet. Wait until you can see their face without invading a bathroom. Heck, what you’re about to tell them might make them sick all over again. Let them get past the first round of sickness.
Don’t fire someone within hours of his pension vesting. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act is a real thing. ERISA Section 510 retaliation claims are a real thing. Section 510 states that it is unlawful to discharge for the purpose of interfering with the attainment of a right (i.e. pension). If you terminate someone to avoid pension liability, it’s likely that a Section 510 claim is in your future. This is on top of any claims the individual may have if he is in the public sector.
Don’t be mean. The very act of terminating someone is already seen as mean. Not many people want to work for a mean employer. Mean employers have trouble finding people to fill roles. Mean employers get nasty Glassdoor and Indeed reviews. You do not want to be that employer. Try to give the individual you are terminating as much dignity as possible. Don’t let them find out via press release. Be brave and do it face-to-face. Anything else is seen as cowardice. Post-it notes, emails, texts, cable news ticker, tweets, Slack message, etc. are all cowardly ways to terminate.
I don’t mind firing people. By the time my clients call me, they have toiled with the decision to terminate, they’ve lost sleep over it, and have thought of all the other possible alternatives. So, I’m reaffirming their gut instinct and offering my theoretical airbags and seatbelts to the term. I’m also advising them on how not to fire badly. Please read all of my tips on how to fire and then heed them.