Being terminated from your job almost always comes with a huge amount of stress and emotion. There’s a lot to process, and people often want to do that processing very quickly in order to get back up and running. Every day, we see people who have lost their jobs and are understandably having a tough time figuring out where to begin. We’re here to help, and in this particular situation we’re here to help you understand with some visual aids. Here’s a guide to the firing process.
1. Be Professional: Nothing is gained by burning bridges on the way out.
2. What’s The Deal?: What are the terms of your separation? Were you fired? Did you get a chance to resign? Is there a severance package?
3. Try Not to Be Angry at the Silence: In Virginia, and in most jurisdictions, you can be fired for any reason or no reason at all. Because of that, most supervisors and human resources professionals won’t talk to you about why you just lost your job. Whether or not the termination was valid, that silence from your former employer shouldn’t be taken personally. It will, however, feel a lot like this:
4. Then You Can Get Actually Angry: It just isn’t terribly productive, but it’ll probably feel pretty good. Set off a few hours or a few days to just be mad. Critically, this is not the time to communicate with your former employer. Just, enjoy some time getting it all out of your system. Like this:
Seriously, do not call your old boss while you’re angry.
5. (Optional) Be Sad for a Day: You just lost your job. You’re mostly angry, but if you were there for any length of time, you probably just lost an important set of relationships with people who you saw every day at a place where you spent forty or fifty hours per week. Take a day and be sad. It’s natural.
6. Now It’s Time to Get Up and Defend Yourself: Find an employment lawyer and get a consultation. You may or may not have a case, but you won’t know until you get counsel. Look to the National Employment Lawyers Association, the Metropolitan Washington Lawyers Association, or your local chapter of NELA. Preferably not this guy:
7. Organize Your Paperwork: This isn’t just selfish from the attorney’s perspective. It will save important time and legal fees if your paperwork and digital documents are in order, preferably in binders or in some other system, when you come to see us. If not, we’ll put them in order, but do you really want to pay us for the 5 hours it takes to organize your 10 years worth of documents? It helps everyone if you’re organized. It’s like this:
8. Figure Out Your Claims: Now that you have counsel and your paperwork is in order, it’s time to figure out what’s going on. Some firings are just firings. It’s that simple. But others are the basis for claims under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and any number of other employment laws designed to protect employee rights. Your counsel will help you determine whether you have a case and, if so, what laws apply. The laws are complicated, but employment lawyers handle these matters every day and we can help you navigate and evaluate your claim. We help you understand if you have a valid claim, or if it’s more like this:
9. Make a Decision and Move Forward, If Necessary: Once we’ve decided that there’s a case to pursue, we will help you put that case together. Sometimes it’s a soft approach that involves us simply helping you approach your company while we work in the background in an advisory capacity.
Other times, we get involved, but we try to find middle ground with the opposing party before litigation to avoid the cost and burden of the litigation process.
But, sometimes, we file and expect to go to court. Sometimes that’s what our clients want. Other times, it’s just what the case needs.
We’re here to help. If you were fired, demoted, or otherwise discriminated against in a job. If you had your wages unfairly stolen from you. If you have a contract, non-compete, or non-solicitation dispute, you may have a case. For a consultation, please call us at (703) 791-9087 or visit our web site at www.erlichlawoffice.com.