Ten Things You Need to Know About Being Terminated

September 24, 2015
Wrongful Termination

Many people will go to their employer’s human resources department when they feel they have been treated unfairly.  Your employer’s HR team are trained professionals, and they are NOT always on your side.  They are trained to save your employer money in any way they can, and they are usually paid well to do so.  Their ultimate loyalty is to your employer, not you. 

Here are Ten Things You Need to Know about Being Terminated:

 1.    Don’t panic.  Stay calm.  Try to control your emotions.  The calmer you are, the sooner you will get past the crisis and into the next phase of your life. 


2.    Don’t do anything you will regret.  It may feel good to give your boss or co-workers a piece of mind and tell them in stunning detail everything that’s wrong with the company, but don’t do it.  You need to protect your reputation, and a hostile exit will make that difficult, if not impossible.


3.    Ask your employer to explain the basis for your termination.  Many employees and employers alike believe employment is at-will, meaning either party can terminate the employment relationship at any time for any reason.  This is only partially true.  Your employment can’t terminate your employment for an unlawful reason.  Your employment may have some form of protection through a personal contract (implied or express), a union, or California or federal employment laws.  You should consult an employment lawyer before finalizing your termination if you think you have a case. 


4.    Ask for a letter of recommendation.  If you have supportive colleagues, they may provide you a positive letter of recommendation while you are still in close contact.


5.    Be wary of an offer to resign in lieu of termination.  A resignation could make you ineligible for unemployment benefits.  Check with your local California Employment Development Department (EDD) or the EDD website to research the impact of resignation in lieu of termination on your ability to receive employment benefits.  It’s also a good idea to consult with an employment attorney if you have questions. 


6.    Don’t sign a severance agreement.  Many companies routinely offer fired employees severance payment in exchange for a “general release.”  This is not to provide you a “soft landing.”  In some instances, these companies are looking for a cheap way to deprive you of your rights and to release the company from any legal claims related to your employment.  If you’re offered a severance agreement, don’t sign it on the spot.  Undoubtedly, the agreement was drafted by an attorney looking out for the company.  Take some time to review the agreement and think about running it by an attorney who is looking out for you and your family.


7.    Ask your employer how your termination will be characterized to prospective employers in the future.  Simply by asking, you might be able to get the company to agree to describe your separation in neutral terms, or least to confirm dates of employment only. 


8.    File for employment.  The California EDD is pretty liberal when it comes to providing unemployment benefits.  Many people think only “laid-off” employees are eligible for those benefits.  In most states, including California, fired employees can usually collect too. 


9.    Make doctor’s appointments now.  You’ll probably have your employer’s health care through the end of the month, so get any doctor and dentist appointments while you still have insurance.  (You can also extend your health care coverage through COBRA.)


10.  Stay positive.  Remember you’re not alone.  A lot of good people have been fired and have gone on to have successful careers.  Think Steve Jobs.  Consider what you can learn from this experience and move on. 

If you want to learn more, check out www.JohnLattinLaw.com.  

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