Q. I own a small business with 27 employees. Last month I was forced to terminate one of my employees who had been caught stealing. Because I knew he was having some trouble at home, I agreed not to contest unemployment. However, I just received an e-mail from this former employee asking me tell to him, in writing, why I fired him. I cannot shake the feeling that I am being set up for something. After all, I told him during his termination meeting that he was being fired for stealing. Do I have to respond to this request?
A. In Indiana, a terminated employee has the right to receive a written statement identifying the basis for being let go. To be eligible, the request must be in writing. In your case, although you received the request via e-mail rather than in a traditional hard-copy form, the request is valid and the former employee is entitled to a response.
While the law requires an employer to state the basis for termination, it does not require any specific level of detail or description. Generally, a simple statement that the employee was terminated for violating a company policy will suffice.
In your situation, the written statement can be very straightforward. Presumably, it is against company policy to steal from the company. The termination was, therefore, the result of the employee violating a company policy. Your letter in response to the request can say exactly that. To be safe, have your attorney review any statement before you send it out.