As an at-will employer, can I separate an employee without providing a reason?
By Breea Gale, HR Business Partner, Trüpp.
At-will status means that either the employer or employee can terminate the employment relationship for any or no reason. However, while you may not be required to give a reason, we strongly recommend that you provide an employee a reason why the termination has taken place. Providing an explanation gives the employee an opportunity to discuss any concerns they may have, potentially easing emotions, and facilitating a more amicable separation. From the employee’s perspective, providing an explanation gives them the opportunity to dispute a termination based on something they may not have done.
We also recommend that you have a written document that explains all reasons for the separation and that is prepared before the employee is notified of the separation, if possible. Documentation is useful for both the employer and employee during the unemployment claim process, and critically important if the termination turns litigious.
Taking a step back, all performance management processes (terminations, corrections, and promotions) should be clearly understood and adhered to by all managers and leaders within the company. Developing and sticking to a standardized process supports transparency, reduces legal risk, and encourages a healthy work culture.