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The Practical Employer

A Lesson on How to Terminate an Employee, Courtesy of David Brent

If you have previously communicated to an employee documented performance issues, there is no point in rehashing them at termination.

In my opinion, the original British version of The Office is far superior to its American counterpart, in large part because David Brent is so much more cringe-worthy than Michael Scott.

I thought I’d start the week off with a little humor (and a little lesson), care of David Brent, via one of the most awkward employee terminations ever.

This meeting violates one of the cardinal rules of terminating an employee:

Don’t debate the decision or supply a lengthy explanation.

If you have previously communicated to an employee documented performance issues, there is no point in rehashing them at termination. It accomplishes nothing and is cruel. Instead, simply remind the employee that you’ve previously discussed the issues, which have not approved.

In a reduction in force, the conversation is even more simple: “The company has eliminated your position, and is prepared to offer the following severance package.”

The more detail you provide, the more penned in you will be in later litigation. Your goal is to be honest with the employee, yet, in the event of litigation, provide your counsel with the most flexibility to support the termination.
And, for God’s sake, don’t debate the disabilities or other protected statuses of those who have not lost their jobs.
Jon Hyman is a partner at Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis in Cleveland. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com. Follow Hyman’s blog at Workforce.com/PracticalEmployer.