Are we required to explain why we discharged an employee? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Are we required to explain why we discharged an employee?

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Q. My company recently terminated an employee. The employee claims that she is entitled to a letter outlining the reasons for her discharge. Is she correct? If so, how much information must we provide the discharged employee?

A. We need a little more information to respond to your query.

Of course, if the employee has a contract—either express or implied—you have to follow the terms of the contract, which may include setting forth the reasons for termination.

Assuming your employee does not have an individual employment agreement or an implied contract providing that employee can be discharged only for cause, the employee is employed at will. Employers have no obligation to provide at-will employees the reasons for their termination.

In truth, doing so could hamstring your company’s defense if the employee filed a lawsuit. Even if you had legitimate reasons for the discharge, you could inadvertently provide a discharged employee with grounds for a lawsuit under anti-discrimination or retaliatory discharge laws. Seek legal counsel.

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