Technically, you don’t need to have a reason to fire an employee from your business. This is a right that you’re given under at-will employment laws. If there are no other contracts or regulations in place, you can simply let someone go for no reason or for almost any reason at all.
However, you may find it helpful to have a reason before you make a firing, and it certainly could help you afterward. It may also be wise to document all of the steps that you’ve taken and why you have decided to terminate that person’s employment with your business. You’re not legally required to do this, but it can still help.
What if the employee says the firing was illegal?
The one caveat to at-will employment is that people can be fired for any reason other than an illegal reason. An illegal reason could be firing someone because of their gender, because of their age, because of their race or something of this nature. These protections are still in place, even for at-will employees, so you can’t use these types of reasons as the grounds for the firing.
Now, you may know how this works and you may never do such a thing, but that doesn’t mean the employee won’t think that’s what happened. They may accuse you of firing them for an illegal reason. Simply saying that you had no reason may not support your side of the story as much as laying out the documentation and the true reasons why you let them go – such as records of them showing up late for work every day or doing a poor job compared to the other employees.
Even with this documentation in place, things like this can get very contentious and may harm your business, so make sure you know what legal steps to take to protect your company’s future.