Terminate an At-Will Employee for Poor Performance

Key Points

  • While an employer may terminate an at-will employee for poor performance, laying the groundwork for termination by documenting evidence and reasonable decision-making may prevent future disputes or litigation.
  • The decision to terminate an at-will employee should follow attempts to correct the employee's poor performance, including the use of performance improvement plans, discipline, and candid discussions regarding the employee's shortcomings and potential penalties for failure to improve.
  • If an at-will employee reaches the end of the performance improvement cycle without any meaningful improvement, HR may offer the employee a clean break by using termination, severance or separation agreements to protect the employer's interests.

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