As an employer, it is your responsibility to run a successful team. This includes hiring and managing talented employees – as well as terminating workers when the situation calls for it.

When you fire an employee, tensions are usually high regardless of the circumstances. In order to protect yourself from a lawsuit, you should never give the employee a reason to think the termination was unjust.

This begins with educating yourself on why someone might sue after termination. Here are four main reasons:

  1. You didn’t tell them why you fired them. Or maybe you gave them an unclear reason that didn’t pinpoint the issue. If you don’t provide a clear reason for terminating an employee, they may come up with a reason on their own – and it could be completely inaccurate.
  2. You terminated them at a fishy time. Perhaps the employee was underperforming for the past few months, but you happened to fire them right after they filed a complaint about a manager. Or maybe you fired them when they had a record of good performance reviews. It’s easy for the employee to draw quick, negative conclusions about situations like this.
  3. You weren’t timely when investigating their complaint. If your employee filed a complaint and you didn’t look into it right away, it may have resulted in anger or frustration after their termination. It’s critical that you communicate with employees if there’s any reason that you might delay an internal investigation.
  4. You didn’t follow your company’s policies. Remember, there are probably processes in place for handling internal problems and terminations. It’s important you follow guidelines carefully, so your employee cannot use that against you.

You may not be able to smooth over all hard feelings after firing an employee. But by avoiding these common mistakes, you can help prevent a lawsuit.