Although "at-will" employment means that an employer should be able to fire an employee for any reason or for no reason at all, courts often look to see that an employer had a "good reason" to fire an employee. At termination your comments must be accurate, consistent with applicable policies, and legally defensible. If the worker senses that the firing is unfair, the risk of a legal fight escalates.
Moreover, when an employee seeks legal counsel, "The first question a lawyer will ask is, `What reason did they give for firing you?'" says Atlanta attorney James W. Wimberly, Jr. Therefore, your termination statement dictates the nature of the ensuing investigation by the attorney, EEOC officer, or union rep. Also, if you should subsequently go before a judge, you'll usually be compelled to stick with your original statement: Trying to backtrack will damage your credibility. Worse, if your initial statement proves to have been seriously defective, this in itself may provide grounds for a jury trial and will negate your chance to get the case dismissed without a full trial, under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products Inc. [120 S. Ct. 2097 (2001)].
In a termination you face multiple risks. You need an appropriate strategy for what you will say and how. Wimberly outlines several options that employers are now using successfully, and he explains their respective advantages.
Give No Reason At All
If it is dangerous to give an improper …