Is it legal to tell anyone about a termination before telling the affected employee?

When an employee is going to be terminated, is it illegal to tell another non-management or non-administrative employee about the firing before telling the employee that is being let go?

Posted  05-11-2011

Ann Kiernan replies:

I don’t think that there is anything illegal about telling someone else first, but it is probably not a good idea. If there is a legitimate business reason connected with the termination, such telling a finance employee to manually prepare a final paycheck, or advising a security guard to wait outside the termination meeting room, or asking IT to cut off the employee’s email access, then I could see giving such advance notice. But if you do, please make sure all employees are cautioned to keep the information strictly confidential.


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About the Author:

Ann Kiernan has litigated claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative matters before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, representing both employers and employees. Ms. Kiernan co-hosted The Employee Rights Forum, a weekly radio call-in show reaching up to a half-million listeners in the New York metropolitan area, and her articles on employment law have been published in many books and magazines. Both as a firm partner and as a director, Ms. Kiernan gained solid experience in management and human resources compliance. She has worked with Fair Measures since 1997.