You have asked us how to fire an inept employee who has been counseled repeatedly who also happens to perform a key position with access to highly confidential information. This is typically your bookkeeper/personal assistant/works in accounting/finance/IT/or has been privy to information that if revealed could hurt our Company. You have asked us how do you separate with this employee unscathed.
The most dangerous employee of them all is the employee who knows the most critical highly confidential information related to your Company and the executives personally. This employee is often times the trusted assistant or performs work in payroll, HR, or IT, where they have access to confidential accounting and employee matters, including, compensation, benefits, payroll, terminations, claims, lawsuits, severance and settlement agreements.
By virtue of the employee’s position, or relationship with high level executives, the employee knows about business decisions that if revealed, could result in corporate and/or personal liability. In other words, this employee knows where all the bones are buried.
Even if there are no bones to speak of, this employee can make the Company and executives’ life miserable by contacting state and/or federal agencies or equally bad, share “confidential” information that was not properly protected as proprietary trade secrets.
This by no way means that the most egregiously performing employees are given a free pass solely because they know highly-confidential information; only that careful planning, preparation and analysis is strongly recommended before taking adverse action. Even if your Company has strong non-disclosure policies, signed agreements and processes that limit authorization/access/use of your Company’s confidential information and legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for termination, careful consideration must be given to the manner and method of achieving it, as these disgruntled former employees are the most dangerous and costliest of them all.