Should I write a letter of recommendation for an employee I fired?

This was culled from askmanager.org, we thought it could be good to share it here incase you come across similar situation you will have an idea on how to handle it.

I manage a team of remote workers, and recently my boss and I decided to fire one of my employees. A few days after being fired, the employee contacted my boss asking for a letter of recommendation. My immediate reaction: WHAT?

My boss forwarded her email to me, and said he doesn’t want to write her one, but I can if I’d like. Is it common to provide letters of recommendation for fired employees? Is it acceptable and reasonable to tell her no? I don’t think I could possibly write a good letter considering she was fired for very serious performance issues, and only worked at our company for 2.5 months. I’m always more than happy to write letters, but not when the employee is fired.

Response
No, it’s not not typical or expected to write recommendation letters (or give positive references) for employees who were fired for cause, not unless they were fired for A but you worked with them long enough and closely enough to honestly say that they’re great at B. It’s completely reasonable to respond to the former employee with something like, “I don’t think we’re in a position to be able to write you a helpful recommendation, especially since we worked with you for such a short period of time.”

Also, letters of recommendation aren’t generally that helpful at all for the reasons I explain here (outside of a few fields that still use them, like academia and some parts of law). Most reference checkers want to actually speak to references and don’t care that much about what a letter says.

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