Focused On Business Law

Attorneys Sara Bradley, Marinda Neumann and Lindsay Nakagawa.

Do you have to tell an employee why you’re firing them?

On Behalf of | Mar 1, 2023 | Employment Law

If you tell an employee that you’re terminating their position, it’s very natural for them to wonder why. They may ask you for an explanation. In fact, many business experts say that it is the best thing to do for your business to tell the employee why you are terminating them.

However, the reasons that these experts give are often emotional. They may note that it is frustrating for an employee to be fired and not told why this happened. They may say that it can improve the morale in the workplace if people know what’s expected of them, or it can at least make them more productive. And all of this may be true, but are you legally required to tell the employee why you’re letting them go? What is your obligation here?

Are they an at-will employee?

It depends on the type of employee that you’re firing. If they’re an at-will employee, that means that you don’t even have to have a reason to let them go. You certainly don’t have to tell them anything more than you’d like. You can simply inform them that you’ve decided the working relationship is over, and that’s the end of it.

If the person has a contract, however, that contract may provide other stipulations that go beyond at-will employment laws. For instance, the contract could say that the person can only be fired for cause and must be told what that reason is to confirm that it is legitimate. But at-will employees do not have this right without a contract.

If your situation gets complicated, be sure you know about all the legal options you have.