FORTUNE Small Business:

How to handle a problem employee

Here's the 411 on legally - yet tactfully - firing a difficult worker.

Subscribe to Top Stories
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all RSS FEEDS (close)
Get small-business intelligence from the experts. Here's a chance for YOU to ask your pressing small-business questions, and FSB editors will help you get answers from the appropriate experts.
Your name:
* Your e-mail address:
* Your city:
* Your state:
* Your daytime phone #:
* Your questions:

(FORTUNE Small Business) -- Dear FSB: I have an employee who does her job well but lacks tact. There has been tension between her and her co-workers and no one wants to work with her anymore. She called my house in tears claiming she is fed up and she is looking for other job opportunities. Is it safe to assume that she has given me her notice to leave?

- Joanna, Portsmouth, N.H.

Dear Joanna: This is a tricky situation. Even though she has verbally stated her intent to leave the job, this does not constitute a proper resignation. Until she gives you a written notice or verbally tells you she is leaving, you cannot assume she is. Sorry.

That said, "This is a good opportunity to get rid of her legally," says Lou Adler of, an Irvine, Calif. firm that provides companies around the world with training and consulting services for their hiring needs.

Based on your last conversation, it is evident she is fed up. If her sour attitude is a negative influence on the company and is affecting her work and the performance of those around her, it is safe to legally terminate her.

"As the boss, explain that you will accommodate her for a maximum of four weeks and that you will be looking for her replacement in the meantime," says Roberta Chinsky founder of Matuson of Human Resource Solutions of Northampton, Mass., which specializes in human resource services.

If you do plan on firing this employee, we recommend you explore for more tips on handling the situation. Also, be sure to check out our package on handling bad employeesTo top of page

Photo Galleries
17 cool gadgets that tease the future Smart telescopes, surveillance for dogs, an electric roadster and more from CES 2018. More
These 12 airplane beds let you really sleep on a flight For the price of a premium class ticket, you may just get a space that's comfortable, private, and quiet enough to ensure a good rest. More
CES 2018 kicks off with oddball gadgets The biggest tech show of the year opened with a collection of quirky gadgets. More