44 million people in the US have filed for unemployment. As the economic condition worsen in our country, we’ve been getting many many of questions from individuals who have recently been terminated from their jobs. In this post, we will give you best practices to follow if you or your loved one suspects they will be terminated or have been recently terminated. We divide the discussion in two questions:
1) I suspect I will be fired soon, how do I prepare myself for this eventuality?
If there is one thing to take away from this post is that you must always, always take the high road. Remember that the economy is faltering and in a tight market your current employer can serve as a resource for your next job. Nobody wants to help someone who becomes aggressive or disrespectful. Thus, it is extremely important to be professional at all times.
Having said that immediately after getting fired you should:
- Ask exactly why you are being fired and take good notes about the reasons given. If you suspect that the reason is false, you should gather all evidence that that contradicts the reasons given.
- You should ask your employer whether you can resign rather than be fired. This can help with how you present your exit to future employers.
- For obvious reasons, you should ask and try to convince the company not to fight unemployment.
- You should get a detailed itemization of all money that is owed and will be paid to you.
- You should get an understanding what the company will say about you if they get an inquiry from potential future employers. You should request that the company provides only a neutral reference.
- And last but not list, you should inquire as to the possibility of severance – which leads to the second question.
2) The Company has offered me severance and asked me to sign a severance agreement, what – is anything – should I negotiate?
Here are the general rules when it comes to severance agreements:
- First and foremost, you should not sign anything that you do not fully understand;
- It is always a good idea to hire an attorney to ensure that your rights are protected; the attorney can also identify potential avenues to increase the that has been offered severance payment;
- There are two clauses that you may want to use to potentially increase your severance. If the employer wants those in, as a general rule, it should be willing to increase the severance. These are:
- Non-competition clauses;
- Cooperation clauses;
- You should make sure to negotiate for payment of COBRA. If you are successful, this can be a significant relief while you find another position;
- Will you be getting paid on a lump sum? What taxes – is any – will be taken out of the payment?
- Is the employer going to pay for outplacement services? If not, could you get the reasonable value?
- These contracts tend to be very one sided. You should ensure that you negotiate a mutual release and a mutual confidentiality clause.
Rafael E. Lázaro is a founding member of Lázaro Law Group, LLC. With a particular emphasis on sexual harassment, Mr. Lázaro has dedicated his career to improving the workplace.