Working Wounded: How to Fire an Employee

Q U E S T I O N: I've got to fire one of those employees who fights everything. He even challenged a verbal warning I gave him a few years ago. How can I fire this guy without ending up in court?

— Counter Puncher

A N S W E R: Given the heightened security concerns in Washington, D.C., the headline was embarrassing — an intruder had breached the Supreme Court building.

Security personnel studied the surveillance videos and discovered that a fox had made it into the inner sanctum. Not a crafty burglar — no this was a real fox.

Because this is highest court of the land, officials didn't call an exterminator, they called a Virginia hunt group who gave the building a through going over with two foxhounds and a terrier. But the fox eluded their grasp.

What does this have to do with firing someone? Plenty. Because with all the litigation surrounding firing employees, many managers trying to fire someone feel in a legal maze just like that fox trying to make it through the Supreme Court.

But it can be done. For more, check out Paul Falcone's book, Firing and Hiring Question and Answer Book (Amacom, 2002).

Just as that fox out-foxed the Supremes, you can successfully fire that worker without ending up in court. But you'll have to be just as crafty and careful.

Online Ballot and Contest

Here are the results from a recent online ballot: How would you rate the benefits at your company?

A major reason I work here — 31.3 percent. No better or worse than anywhere else — 39.4 percent. You're kidding, right? — 29.1 percent.

Winning Strategy

Our winning strategy for dealing with employee benefits comes from Lauren T. in New York City, NY. "I never paid attention to benefits for most of my career. Now I do. I learn everything I can about them. In the process I learned about a first time homebuyer program that will really help when I decide to buy a home. The second key is to talk to the benefits people and to lobby them to make the program exactly what you want. I've not gotten everything that I want, but I'm well on my way to making it a better deal."

List of the Week

Bob Rosner is the author of the business best seller, The Boss's Survival Guide (McGraw Hill, 2001), a speaker, and founder of the award-winning & E-mail him at publishes a new Working Wounded column every Friday.