I’m about to be fired, what should I do?
There is no worse feeling than the sense of impending doom. The stress that leads up to and follows the loss of a job can disrupt your entire life. That’s why we take special care in working with clients who face these situations.
When you’re facing a situation at work that is going to end in your separation, sometimes the best thing you can do is seek out advice to help you deal with the aftermath. We can give you a practical perspective on the situation and guide you to your best options. This sometimes includes doing nothing at all. You will have the peace of mind knowing that you’re not making emotional decisions that could impact the rest of your life.
Now, for some practical tips. First, be sure that you have carefully assessed the situation. Are you over-reacting or misinterpreting what is happening? Remain calm and do not act defensively in the face of uncertainty. It’s natural to be anxious; but if you’re facing unlawful termination, you want to position yourself for a positive exit or a strong comeback.
Remember that once you’re gone from your workplace you won’t have access to your office or your computer, where you may have saved important files that relate to your termination. Your employer will immediately terminate your access to your personal information without notice. You may need these things after you leave. This includes any documentation that you have maintained during your employment, important emails that show that your employer is discriminating or retaliating against you, or documentation showing that your positive work performance. While documentation is important, do not violate company policies related to company property by copying or emailing yourself sensitive company information. This can be used against you later.
Do save personal files that you have maintained documenting your treatment, including emails and other written material. Don’t email yourself confidential documents about the company that violate the company’s written policies.
If you are terminated, file for unemployment benefits. Even if you don’t think you’ll need them, its good to have a back-up plan. You are entitled to unemployment benefits unless you intentionally violated the company’s policies. Ordinarily, this means that the company must have written you up previously for the same intentional misconduct. Poor performance does not disqualify you from unemployment benefits.
Finally, keep in mind the time limits within which you need to seek advice about your situation. Rest assured that your company consulted with its attorneys before it fired you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional to give you advice about the legality of your termination. In most cases, you only have 180 days to decide whether to pursue a claim for discrimination. The limitations vary, so getting solid advice from lawyers like those at Parks, Chesin & Walbert is essential.