How to Fire Someone in 6 Steps

Jun 02, 2023
how to fire someone

Firing an employee is a difficult and sensitive task that requires careful consideration and proper execution. While it is never an easy process, there are steps on how to fire someone that can help make it as respectful and professional as possible.

Steps to Take to Terminate an Employee


1. Gather and Review Employee Documentation:

Pull together any notes, emails, write-ups, warnings, and any other documentation you have related to this employee who you want to fire. Was the employee clearly warned that if the behavior they were exhibiting did not stop, they may receive may get another warning or get fired? (The verbiage that we use on warning documentation is “Failure to correct the behavior may result in further disciplinary action leading up to and including termination.” In my experience, employment lawyers tend to also like this verbiage.) If you are struggling to find documentation, write out, to the best of your knowledge, when poor performance/behavior instances happened and the details. If you cannot recall when instances happened or cannot locate any documentation, then you are not ready for

2. Make an Employee Timeline:

Take the documentation from above and make it into a timeline so you can easily see the chronological dates and what happened when. If you don’t have documentation or recollection of when things happened, then that should give you pause to consider whether firing this employee is the right move.

3. Assess Timeline and Related Risk:

Look at the timeline you put together and note: a) When the first incident happened; b) How long since the first incident to the next incident; c) If the employee was clearly warned once or multiple times about the issue(s). There are many factors that come into play at this stage of the process with employment law such as how many employees you have and if you are operating in an “At Will” state. Be sure you understand any implications as it relates before proceeding to avoid risk and wrongful termination lawsuits.

4. Set Date for Termination:

If you have gone through the above steps and have determined that the risk is low and that you want to proceed with firing this employee, the next steps is to set a date for the firing. You want to have some time even if it is just a day or two to get their final check in order, note any vacation time that may need to be paid out, get your termination script (what you will say during the termination) prepared, prepare for what we call the “what ifs” (if unexpected things come up during the termination, a plan for what you will do), final warning paperwork, as well as a termination letter for the employee noting any benefits continuation information.

5. What Ifs:

 Now that everything is in order, before you go through with the termination, it is important to assess what we call the “What Ifs.” These are those things that may happen when you are firing this employee. For example: What if they cry? What if they scream and yell? What if they tell you your facts are wrong? You want to be prepared for every possible scenario as a “just in case” measure. Trust us – if you prepare for all the “What Ifs” likely none will happen… but if you do not prepare, something will happen and you will be unprepared.

6. Debrief Your Team:

Post-termination, it is important to connect with your team on how the termination went and if anything came up

If you want us to guide you every step of the way the next time you find yourself needing to fire an employee, we have got your back. Book a Free Consult now or visit us at

How to Get Started With Expedition HR


Join the HR Subscription to receive comprehensive and affordable Human Resources Support. The subscription is ideal for for small businesses and non-profit organizations.

As a subscriber, you...

  • Receive on-demand HR Consulting and other HR Services for a fraction of the cost to hire a full time HR employee
  • Have the support and knowledge to deal with workplace conflict
  • Know exactly what phrasing to use for tough conversations with your employees
  • Have extra time in your day because you have immediate access to the right HR forms, checklists, and tools (no more Googling HR forms!)
  • Have an expert to guide you with how to fire someone when the need arises
  • Know how to better manage employee performance
  • Understand HR Compliance
  • Have peace of mind

Schedule a Free Consult  or email us.

Book a Free Consult