Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

4 Good Reasons to Fire an Employee (and 1 Bad One)

In almost every employment scenario, you don't need a reason to fire an employee. Most employment arrangements are "at-will," meaning the employee is free to leave and the employer is free to fire, with or without a reason.

But while you don't need a reason to terminate an employee, you're also not allowed to use a bad reason. So if you're going to fire someone because of something they did, here are some legally justifiable reasons you can use and one that you'll want to avoid at all costs:

1. Bad Attendance Record

It's the first thing employees must do: show up on time. And the second: don't leave early. You can absolutely fire employees who don't work, but there are some legal implications to consider before doing so.

2. Bad Tweets

Yes, employers can fire employees over their use of social media, if it violates company policy or a specific non-disclosure agreement. And you can even fire an employee for social media posts that make your small business look bad.

3. Bad Behavior (off the Clock Edition)

Of course you can fire someone for their conduct in the office, but what about their conduct at home? Illegal behavior, violating your company's code of ethics, and even negatively affecting your company's reputation can all be grounds for dismissing an employee.

4. Bad Job Hunting Skills

Sure, they were on their way out the door already, but you may want some extra documentation before firing an employee for looking for another job. Chances are that if you found out about it, he's probably been shirking his duties elsewhere in the office.

1. Bad News

As we learned with Volkswagen and countless other companies, it's not a good idea to fire whistleblowers. Just because they delivered some incrimination information about your company to an investigate entity doesn't give you the right to can them.

If you're thinking of firing an employee, talk to counsel first. An experienced employment law attorney can alert you to any possible legal ramifications before you get into trouble.

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