As a professional adviser, it is vital that you are knowledgeable about the federal laws and restrictions surrounding the acquirement and dismissal of an employee. In order to keep your client from legal action, here are some things you should be aware of.

Document a transparent process. Firing of an employee should only be the result of a well-thought out, transparent process that has been documented in detail. It is always best to allow a probation opportunity for improvement if at all possible. If firing is the result of job elimination or reorganization then advise your client to make announcements and give reasonable “fair warning.”

Employment Agreement. When involved in the hiring process it will be to your advantage to make sure the employee understands the hiring terms and the “at-will” nature of employment, meaning the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time. To ensure against legal action make sure to have them sign this agreement.

Illegal reasons for firing. There are definitely some reasons for firing an individual that if cited make the action illegal and will be heavy material for a lawsuit of wrongful termination. Illegal reasons include discrimination, retaliation, refusal to take a lie detector test, alien status, OSHA violation complaints and refusal to violate public policy.

Don’t say more than the facts. When firing an employee, anything you say can be held against you. State the facts and the cause but do not get too specific. Be careful about verbally placing the blame on the employee. Be professional and brief.

Interview questions that are off-limits. “State and federal laws make discrimination based on certain protected categories, such as national origin, citizenship, age, marital status, disabilities, arrest and conviction record, military discharge status, race, gender, or pregnancy status, illegal. Any question that asks a candidate to reveal information about such topics without the question having a job related basis will violate the various state and federal discrimination laws,” Lori Adelson, a labor and employment attorney and partner with law firm Arnstein & Lehr, tells Business Insider.

Hiring and firing can be a lot of pressure, knowing best practices can help to avoid anxiety and legal ramifications. For specific information and tips on how best to advise your clients during these processes sign up for Surgent’s webinar, Hiring and Firing Employees – What You Can and Cannot Do.

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