Termination Process for a Dishonest Employee

As unfair as it may sound, dishonest employees have legal rights, and you can get in hot water if you terminate them incorrectly. The termination of employment due to dishonesty should be a proactive, not reactive, procedure, guided by your company’s policy.

Even at a small business, you will need to follow several steps to minimize the chance you violate employment laws and leave yourself vulnerable to a lawsuit. Nonetheless, an employer must take decisive action to hold dishonesty employees accountable to enforce policy and preserve morale, according to the HR Digest.

Verify the Employee’s Dishonesty

The first step to take before terminating a dishonest employee is to verify the act or acts of which he is being accused. Hearsay or circumstantial evidence won’t hold up in court if the employee sues you. Document the evidence of transgression if possible, using computer records, video surveillance, telephone logs or a written statement by another employee. The Hartford emphasizes the importance of following the company's established disciplinary policies and procedures.

Consult with an Attorney

When you are certain you want to fire the employee, review his contract, if any. If you agreed to a verbal contract, recall any promises you made. Consult an attorney with experience in employment law to get advice as to how to terminate the employee and whether you need to offer any severance. Discuss the circumstances of the termination to determine if the employee’s actions constitute a breach of contract that might relieve you of any obligations to him.

Ask the attorney if you should contact the police to verify criminal conduct or press charges. Ask whether or not you should tell the employee why he is being fired during his termination. Determine if you need to pay the employee at the time of termination and whether you are legally allowed to hold or withhold any pay.

If available, follow a sample letter for misconduct from the attorney or your human resources department. Review the dismissal letter for dishonesty with the attorney before delivering the letter to the employee.

Meet with the Employee

Bring the employee into a private room with at least two members of the company present. If you have security personnel, have one present in the room or outside the door. During the meeting, an information technology employee should be changing the password to the employee’s computer and any other passwords that give the employee access to any of your documents, websites or computers.

Tell the employee he is being terminated and present him with any papers he needs to sign ending his relationship with the company. Request any keys or access cards and any other company property the employee might have, such as a laptop or company phone.

Tell the employee whether or not he can use his computer to retrieve any emails or personal information. Do not give the employee a reason for his termination if your attorney advised you not to. Any admissions you make can be used against you in a wrongful termination lawsuit.

Supervise the Employee’s Exit

After the termination meeting, walk the employee to his office or the exit. If you will allow the employee to access his computer, have a security or IT person there to witness what he is doing. While this is embarrassing for the employee, he has been dishonest and you must protect your assets. Provide a box for the employee to use to pack up personal items from his wall or desk.

Maintain Confidentiality

Do not discuss the employee’s termination with your staff. You may announce that the person no longer works for the company, but you should not give the reason. Ask your employees not to discuss personnel issues, including employee departures.