If you have fired an employee for cause and the ex-employee has filed for unemployment compensation, you will find that the process is fairly simple and most people can represent their own company. But,
1. Know your state’s rules before you hire someone. In Virginia, unemployment comes from the last 30-day employer. Make your review process on day 29 or earlier so you won’t be on the hook. Each state is different so check your rules and modify this principal carefully.
2. If you don’t have a written employee handbook, create one. If you can’t point to written policies and procedures it is harder to show that they were violated.
3. Document problems in writing. Even though you prefer informality, don’t do it. Create a process of formal reviews and, when there is a violation, formal write-ups. That way you can show that you notified the employee of their errors and told them to shape up.
4. If you do fire someone, list each and every reason why. Then if there is a hearing, discuss each and every reason. You never know—what you think is the most important reason may not strike the hearing examiner as important and vice-versa.