You're fired." Two words nobody ever wants to hear. Ultimately, It doesn't really matter why you heard those infamous words, what matters is what you do now.
You see, you’ve got lots of decisions to make ranging from how to pay your bills, to finding your next job to consulting an attorney.
Obviously you will need some time to clear your head and figure out your next steps. And if you’re looking for a good book to help you deal with everything from what to say in your next job interview to finding a job you LOVE, check out my latest, "Your Journey from Fired to Hired.” It’s packed full of information that I needed after I was fired and it’s all about helping you make the transition from “You’re Fired” to “You’re Hired!”
One of the topics that is always confusing is the notion of hiring an attorney. Now I realize that right now you may not want to spend any money, much less money on an attorney, but it could be one of the best decisions you can make after hearing those dreaded words!
Still not sure? Check out just a few of the benefits that a legal professional can offer you in this situation.
1. Look Out for YOU. Believe it or not, you may still have some power after being terminated. And a good employment attorney can help you actually return to your former employer with some points of negotiation.
Now there are obviously no guarantees, but depending on your specific situation (and how badly your old boss wants to keep you quiet) you may be able to “barter” for some of the items below:
- Extra Vacation Pay
- Extension of Health Care Benefits
- Neutral letters of Recommendation
- Salary Continuation Programs
- Employer Paid Attorney Fees
2. Little Change. Big Difference. Imagine for a moment how different your job search would be if you resigned instead of being fired. Now I realize that either way you no longer have a job, but to potential employers the difference can be huge!
This change alone can make your ensuing job search much easier. Dawn Wall, Employment Attorney Specialist at Costigan & Wollrab PC, emphasizes that, “in order to meet eligibility requirements for unemployment, the agreement would need to stipulate that the employer will not/cannot contest unemployment benefits.”
When handled correctly, this would be considered a “separation” by most state unemployment offices instead of a termination and typically unemployment benefits would still be available.
3. You Can’t go Back. If you are asked to sign any waiver or release indicating that you won’t take legal action against your former employer in the future….go see an attorney!
I’m not trying to alarm you but giving up your rights is serious business. Many employers use boiler plate documents for these agreements that are fair to you. However, others do not. Bottom line, there are simply no guarantees.
Consequently, before signing any legal agreement, you should always have it reviewed by a legal professional.
4. That’s Illegal. If you feel you were unjustly fired, this one is for you. While most of us are considered “at will employees” and can be legally fired for almost anything, there are still laws to protect your basic rights. If these rights were violated and you were fired, then chances are good that you would have the potential for a wrongful termination lawsuit.
While certainly not all inclusive, some of the most popular claims for wrongful termination are below.
- Discrimination (Age; Sex; Nationality; Sexual Orientation; Disability; Religion; etc.)
- Retaliation for filing a claim (like discrimination) against your employer
- Sexual harassment
- Refusal to commit an illegal act
5. Take the Money and Run. If you were lucky enough to be offered a severance package, you should definitely visit with a legal professional.
These agreements are legally binding documents and typically require you to give up some of your rights in exchange for payment of some kind. This is not something you should take lightly.
While it’s possible that it’s a fair and mutually beneficial agreement, it’s quite likely that someone with greater insight (aka an attorney) can find some ways to negotiate on your behalf and improve the attractiveness of the package for you.
I get it. Getting fired can literally suck the life right out of you. But believe me, you can exit on the other side of this and achieve great things in your life.
You just need to take a deep breath and make solid decisions. And one of them just may be to contact an employment law specialist!
For more tips, check out my new book, “Your Journey from Fired to Hired.”
I’d love to hear from you. If you were fired, would you contact an attorney?