Sample Termination Letter

Understand that the sample termination letter presented, or the other samples below are only samples and should be reviewed by your legal counsel prior to being issued to anyone.

Sexual Harassment Man Hand on Her Behind

Sample Termination Letter for Sexual Harassment

October 15, 2010

Dear Mr. James J. Johnson:

Unfortunately, your employment with the Washington Janitorial Company is being terminated effective immediately for violating our policy on Sexual Harassment.

On October 12, 2010, at approximately 10:15 am your supervisor witnessed you inappropriately touching another employee. After questioning the other employee your behavior was not welcomed and extremely offensive to them. On September 25, 2010, you were issued a written warning letter for continuing to ask this same employee on a date after they clearly told you they were not interested. On September 28, 2010, you signed acknowledging that you read and understood our company policy on sexual harassment.

Your final pay of $768.97 for hours worked is being issued as a part of this termination. Any pay due for any other benefits such as vacation will be provided in accordance with state law at a later date.

Any other benefits available to you, such as Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) will be provided through a separate correspondence at a later date.

Mr. Johnson, you are expected to return all uniforms and keys immediately. If you fail to return all uniforms and keys by October 25, 2010, we will withhold the cost to replace them from your vacation pay in accordance with state law.

We wish you success in all your future endeavors.


Paul Newman
Human Resources Director


Sample Termination Letters

The above sample termination letter, and those further down in this article, are of course just an example and it is extremely important that you know, understand, and follow your state employment law.

When you are preparing to issue a termination letter it is important to assess the potential reaction from the employee.

My recommendation is to always place you in a position closest to an exit. That if you feel there is a potential for violence make sure that there is more than one person issuing it along with possible security or numerous people available to help, if necessary.

In my long career I have been very fortunate even though a few times I thought something might happen. Just keep in mind that there is always that possibility.

Every situation can be different along with state laws - so always refer your specific situation to your legal representative.

After you have completed your investigation and you have decided that terminating the employee is the appropriate course of action - it is time to issue the letter of termination to the employee.

In the sample termination letters further down in this article - keep in mind you can change the wording to fit your needs. Also important, is that you should always include the specific policy language they violated from your  employee policy manual.

final written warning

When and How to Fire an Employee Gracefully and Legally

Tell that to the one getting fired! If only employees knew how much it hurts employers to take the tough decision of firing an individual who could do so much better yet lacks the motivation. It’s also true what they say, “If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm”!

Ask any disgruntled employees why they were fired… a lot of excuses will come forth. In truth, managers and employers fire individuals based on the following reasons:

✔   Poor work performance/issues with productivity

✔   General layoffs

✔  Stealing

✔   Unprofessionalism/gross misconduct at work

It’s illegal to terminate an employee based on gender, race, age, marital status, or religion! Additionally, an employer must always have a just and valid reason to back up this decision (personal reasons don’t count) as wrongful termination can result in a lawsuit.

Termination of employees must always be conducted on legal grounds! Here is how to go about this process:

Have a Witness When Firing an Employee

Someone from your Human Resources department must be present at the time you are handing the termination letter to the employee. This is important for many reasons. Firstly, the employee won’t be able to claim unlawful termination or deny the event ever happened.

Don’t have an HR department or representative? Entrust this responsibility to a trusted employee or even your company’s lawyer if applicable.

Leave Element of Surprise Out of the Proceeding

Terminating an employee without a previous warning is against the law. It’s crucial that you give them a warning, stating why they need to improve their performance or behavior… give them a date to get their act together!

It’s alright to fire an employee without any prior warning due to a serious policy violation. In all other cases, conduct performance reviews before firing an employee.

Employment Laws Regarding Termination

Are you thinking of terminating an employee from your service? It’s important to have an idea of federal employee and termination laws!

Look at the Termination page on Department of Labor’s website before starting anywhere else. You must also have an understanding of how to terminate employees legally as per your state requirements…

Are you complying with state and federal laws before engaging in first round of layoffs in your company? Make sure this step of the process is carried out in a legal and graceful way!

It isn’t always easy to let somebody go. The least any employer can do is fire an employee as per employment law.

When scheduling the delivery of the letter of termination make sure it is in private - this means that it should be behind closed doors. If it is possible - this should be in an office - but not secluded - away from the majority of other employees. Point is that we do not want to embarrass the employee or violate their confidentiality. You will also want to make sure that you set the meeting space up in a way that allows you to be safe at all times - an example would be in a conference room where you have immediate access to the door and have the table between you and them.

Three Glasses of Beer

These Sample Termination Letters are Being Issued for Drinking at Work

June 24, 2007

Dear Paul Gonzalez:

Your employment with Tucker Towing Company is being terminated immediately for violating our drug and alcohol policy.

Specifically, on June 22, 2007, at approximately 10:00 pm, you were observed by a management official consuming an alcoholic beverage in the employee locker room. In accordance with our company policy and our employee policy manual consuming alcoholic beverages while on duty is prohibited and punishable up to and including immediate termination. You acknowledged by your signature that you read, understood, and received a copy of the policy and the employee handbook. Further your statement during our finding of fact as witnessed by a management official was that you did consume an alcoholic beverage, specifically xyz brand beer.

I would include any information about how to receive pay, benefits, that the employee is entitled to in this section.

Signed by a Company Official

sample termination letter

Sample Termination Letters - The Meeting Should Be as Quick as Possible...

Schedule plenty of time to handle the issue properly. Keep in mind this meeting should be as quick as possible.

Make sure you have all the evidence available that you feel may be needed to show your employee - however - use caution on witness statements. So, if it is for drinking at work - have the employee handbook - the document that they signed acknowledging receipt of the policy and/or handbook - a copy of the work schedule - copy of their time card showing that they were there at that time - etc.

Clear your desk off - only have the required documents.

You may or may not want to invite a witness - you will have to know your employee - and whether they are capable of violence. Most unions require you offer them the opportunity to bring a union representative.

Once in the meeting - make the employee feel comfortable - but - state the purpose of the meeting as quickly as possible. Such as - Thank you for meeting with me today. Please have a seat. The reason I asked you to meet is to issue you a letter of termination for..

As soon as I begin that sentence - I have always handed a copy of the letter of termination to the employee.

Make sure they do not have any questions.

Once you finish - ask them to sign and date - again if they refuse to sign - have a witness sign and date - and you should state on the form that the employee declined signing the termination notice. Some businesses or companies may not require a signature by the terminated employee at all. Check with your legal representative.

Sample Termination Letters - Get any keys and Uniforms

Ask for any company keys, uniforms, or any other property they may have in their possession.

Give them a copy of the letter of termination. If you have a security officer - I would encourage you to have them escort the terminated employee off your property - this is to eliminate them having a reportable accident as they leave - or worse yet interact with other employees - or become violent in some way by destroying property or hurting other employees.

Make sure you place a copy of the letter of termination in their personnel file. Also keep a copy of all the evidence in a separate file.

It is as simple as that. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of the meeting - you may want to role play with someone first.
Good luck and check out my information and process on terminating an employee.
Sample Termination Letter for Performance
Make writing any type of termination letter easy and fast!

I have provided a FREE sample termination letter for performance below to help you learn how to write a termination letter on your own.

However, before you sit down to right the letter it is important to make sure this is the right step to take. Things to consider are:
Making sure that you are following any policies you have developed within your organization, such as an Employee Policy Manual. (I have provided some portions from our free employee policy manual below)

Make sure you have properly trained the employee and documented that training. For technical positions, you can also review the employees resume or job applications to see what they stated their experience was/is. Because the hiring process is so expensive and time consuming it is also important to offer additional training if that is an option.

Make sure you are being fair. Are you treating all employees the same way. As an example, with discrimination laws it is important to consider if the employee falls into a protected class. That does not mean you can't take action against a protected class, but it does mean you are treating all employees the same and not just older employees or an employee of a certain race.

In addition to the above, if the decision has been made to issue a letter of termination to the employee, make sure you find out if the employee has keys, uniforms, and or equipment. If they do make sure they are informed of those items at the time of termination. 

It is also important to find your states employment laws on final pay and when it is due to the employee. Consider a vacation or sick pay that may be required to be paid out. Finally, before you charge an employee for lost or damaged items they failed to turn in, check the employment laws in your state.


Sample Termination Letter for Performance


(Dear Mr/Ms Name)

In the last six months that you have been with the company, your performance has been evaluated on four occasions by your supervisor. On each occasion, they pointed out that you were not performing to the standard required for you to continue in your current position with the company.

Unfortunately, at this time you have not improved. I regret to inform you that your employment with our company has been terminated effective immediately. According to our employment policy, you are entitled to one month severance pay and you are eligible for COBRA.

Although these decisions are always hard, we had no alternative based on your performance. However, we do wish you the best in all your future endeavors.


Scared boss holding pink slip your fired

Sample Performance Management vs. Progressive Discipline Policy

The management of “Insert Your Business Name Here” believes more in performance management rather than progressively disciplining its valued employees. This is why it is focused more on performance improvement plans rather than penalties and punishments of the process of progressive discipline. It has identified two key issues that must be taken care of, if the staff members of the company are to be productive during their working hours. 

Problematic staff members that generally need management intervention for the rectification of their behavior may, as a general rule is sub divided in the following two contexts:

(a) Performance issues and, or

(b) Behavior problems

Performance Issues

By Performance issues it is meant that any particular staff member of the company is not performing as per the minimum standards as set by the company.

Behavior Problems

Objectionable behavior includes but nevertheless is not limited to a broad range of undesirable activities that stretch from willful (and or malicious) misconduct to outright violence. 

PIPs (Performance Improvement Plans)

A performance improvement plan (PIP) is a tool that management may use to ensure that an employee performing below the set standards has an opportunity to succeed, even as they are held accountable for their lack of performance in the period leading up to the PIP.

For a performance improvement program to be initiated there has to be a clear-cut reason for it. There may be many extenuating factors that are affecting a staff member’s performance. The loss of a loved one for instance may mean a drop in productivity for the employee and as such would not warrant a fully-fledged PIP but simple counseling till, they are able to overcome their loss. But there may be a lot of other reasons that require direct management intervention in the form of PIPs and other progressive disciplinary actions. These may include:

  • Inconsistency
  • Not being able to meet deadlines
  • Substandard quality of work
  • Insufficient quantity of work

Sample Termination Letter for Laying Off an Employee

A sample termination letter for laying off an employee is provided below to demonstrate just how easy it is to write this type of business letter.

One of the biggest mistakes most leaders make when writing a business letter of any kind is not keeping it short and to the point. You only include information that is important to the topic you are writing about.

In this case you are writing a letter eliminating someone's position. This means that we should be stating that in the very first sentence, and at the most in the second.

Sample Termination Letter for Laying off an Employee


(Dear Mr/Ms Name)

It is with great disappointment I must inform you that we are going to eliminate several positions due to our need to realign our company with the needs of our customers. Because of that we are discontinuing the production of the gadget effective sixty (60) days from today.

Although we will make every effort to relocate qualified employees into other positions within our company, there will be those that we are not able to place.

We will hold several meetings over the next sixty days to provide as much information as possible for those affected. At these meetings we will provide a local representative from Job Services and information on any benefits that you may be entitled to.

As we move through this very painful process, please know that we care about each individual very much. We certainly appreciate your dedicated service to our Company.


Don't let writing a sample termination letter like the one above stop you from being successful. 

Sexual Harassment 6

Sample Termination Letter for Sexual Harassment

Any type of harassment is often misunderstood and most often will get businesses in a lot of trouble if they don't completely understand it.

First before we make the leap to immediately terminate someone for harassment let's talk about what it is.

In most cases we think of sexual harassment! Seems pretty clear but is it really. I talk about the definition of sexual harassment on this website and I would recommend you visit that page.

The below letter deals with sexual harassment specifically. But remember sexual harassment can easily be a hostile work place as well depending on what the circumstances are.

Sample Termination Letter for Sexual Harassment

The other part of the equation is whether the actions were welcomed or not. If there was no clear understanding that the action was not welcomed it may not be sexual harassment. As an example if someone asked another employee out twice and the first time the employee never made it clear that they were not interested it doesn't turn immediately into sexual harassment. In a case like this a simple written counseling may be the right approach.

On the other hand, I have dealt with a supervisor being accused of rape and after sorting everything out it was welcomed, but I still terminated both parties for various reasons. 

Sample Termination Letter for Sexual Harassment


(Dear Mr./Ms. Name)

After a careful review of the facts surrounding the circumstances involving your violation of (Name of Company) company policy on Sexual Harassment we have made a decision to terminate your employment, effective immediately.

Specifically, on (Date of Incident) you admitted that you had sexual relations with a subordinate employee that reports to you directly. You acknowledged by your signature that you had read and understood (Name of Company) company policy on Sexual Harassment on (Date the employee signed for their Employee Manual or Handbook).

You may contact (Name of Personnel Officer) at (Telephone Number) for information on any benefits that you may be eligible for, such as COBRA.


Too many times supervisors will wait until they just can't take another minute with an employee that continues to sexually harass other employees. At first, they think that the behavior will change but over my forty plus years of management I know that this is built into the employee and it will only get worse if you don't act immediately to correct the behavior when it first arises. 

The important thing to remember is that sexual harassment just can't be tolerated though and, in most cases, especially with new employees, they should be cut loose if they are conducting themselves with that type of behavior.

Sample Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Policy

“Insert Your Business Name Here” is committed to a work place environment in which all staff members of either gender is able to work freely, in a congenial environment, free from any form of sexual harassment whatsoever.  Every employee of the company has the right to work in a safe and professional atmosphere that promotes healthy discourse while actively prohibiting unlawful discriminatory practices, specifically harassment. Therefore, “Insert Your Business Name Here” expects that all relationships among persons in the workplace will be free of any kind of sexual harassment whatsoever.

Sample Policy on the Consequences of Sexual Harassment

Any employee of “Insert Your Business Name Here” under investigation of misconduct contained in this section will at a minimum be relocated to another area of the facility until the results of the investigation are completed. If an employee under investigation can’t be relocated, they may be suspended without pay until the results of the investigation are completed. If the employee under investigation is found to be not responsible for the action, they will receive any pay and benefits they missed as a result of this investigation.

If the employee that is being investigated is found to be responsible for the actions, they will be subject to the progressive disciplinary process up to and including possible termination. Any repeat offense would almost inevitably mean the eventual termination of the offending staff member irrespective of his seniority and importance to the company. 

Sample Coverage of a Sexual Harassment Policy

These policies apply to all potential applicants as well as current staff members of the company, whether related to conduct engaged in by fellow employees or someone not directly connected to “Insert Your Business Name Here” (e.g., an outside vendor, consultant or customer).

Any sort of sexual harassment is completely unacceptable in the workplace and in any work-related setting outside the workplace, including but not restricted to

  • Business trips
  • Business meetings
  • Business-related social events
  • Corporate retreats
  • Any other activities taking place outside company premises but nevertheless for and on behalf of “Insert Your Business Name Here”.

Thank you and May God Bless you!


Sample Termination Letter for Continuing to Violate Company Policy


(Dear Mr/Ms Name)

After a careful review of your situation, we have decided to terminate your employment with (Name of Company), effective (Effective Date).

In the past (Number of Months) you have received two written warnings on (List Dates of Written Warnings). In addition, you recently violated our company policy for a third time on (List Date of Violation).

Specifically, you were tardy from work on (List the Date(s) of the Most Recent Tardy that has resulted in the Third Violation) by (List How Many Minutes They were Tardy). You acknowledged by your signature that you were aware of (Name of Company) company policy on Tardiness on (List Date the Employee Signed for Their Employee Manual or Handbook).

This most recent violation along with the previous two, have had a negative impact on our operation and feel you will be better suited for different employment outside of our organization.

We do however wish you much success in the future.

Joseph P. Delgoto

Destruction of Company Property 1

Sample Termination Letter for Unexcused Absences

June 5, 2010

Dear Mr. David Jones:

Your employment with Greens Glass Company has been terminated effective immediately for unexcused absences.

Specifically, you were absent on June 2, June 3, and June 4, 2010, and you failed to notify your supervisor. You acknowledged by your signature on February 21, 2010, that you read and understood the policy on attendance provided in the employee policy manual.

You are to return the company uniforms provided to you, and the employee locker room key.

We have provided your final pay as a part of this action

Mr. Jones, we wish you success in the future.


Company Official's Signature: ____________________________

Learning How to Write a Letter of Termination Letter Through Examples


Below your will find an sample termination letter and great information that will be helpful in avoiding a wrongful termination law suit.

However, the most important part of any termination is the workplace investigation prior to making any decision to take action.

In fact, the only purpose of the termination Letter is to document the event. I encourage you to check out my disciplinary action form that can be used for all discipline, including termination.

Here are some basic assumptions that I am using for the sample termination letter below:

  • That you have an employee policy manual that provides your attendance policy and the consequences of not following it.
  • That the employee involved has signed acknowledging that they have read, understand and received a copy of your employee policy manual, dated January 2, 2008.
  • That the employee has not called or shown up for work for three straight days, June 2, June 3, and June 4, 2008
  • That although you are not required you attempted to contact them on June 2, 2008, and left a message. They never returned your call.
  • That the employee has company uniforms, and one key to the employee locker room.
  • That the employee did not show for work on the June 5th and you are mailing the termination letter on that date certified and return receipt requested. Depending on the state you may have to send the final check with the letter.

Sample Letter of Termination for Sexual Harassment


June 4, 2012

Dear Mr. John Peterson:

Your employment with Johnson's Siding is being terminated effective May 7, 2008, for violation of our company's sexual harassment policy.

Specifically, you repeatedly, a total of six times, asked another employee for a date after they had made it clear that they were not interested. You confirmed that you had requested a date with them in your statement to your supervisor.

You were issued a written warning for similar behavior on December 14, 2007. You also received annual training on our sexual harassment policy on February 19, 2008. Finally, you had acknowledged by your signature that you were provided a copy of our company employee policy manual on June 1, 2005, which outlines our company policy on sexual harassment and the possible consequences of violating it.

Based on your state you would place any required information here, such as final pay, vacation time remaining, etc.

Mr. Peterson, we wish you nothing but success in your future.


Company Official's Signature: _____________________________


Sample Termination Letter for Discrimination

April 19, 2011

Dear Mr. Smith:

Your employment with Anderson’s Building Supplies, Inc. is being terminated for your willful violation of our company’s discrimination policy, effective immediately on April 19, 2011.

Specifically, on April 15, 2011, you stated to another employee that he should take all of his people and go back to Africa where they came from. This was witnessed by your immediate supervisor and several other coworkers who have made written statements.

Mr. Smith, because you were enrolled in our health benefits plan you are entitled to Continuation of Benefits on certain plans. You will be receiving information on those benefits in the mail at your current address on file. You may also contact our Human Resources Department at 101-567-0000, with any questions you may have.

Mr. Smith, your final pay is being issued as a part of this notice in the amount of $876.25.

Good luck Mr. Smith.

Company Official’s Signature and Date

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