Nobody wants to get fired, but losing your job can be a particularly stressful experience when you believe that you’re the victim of some form of wrongful termination. While employers (and employees) have some pretty broad latitude when it comes to deciding who they want to work with, wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires an employee for an illegal reason, such as discrimination, retaliation, or whistleblowing.
If you think this is about to happen to you, you may want to pursue legal action – and that means planning your exit from your workplace carefully. Here are some tips:
Get your contract and employee handbook out
Your contract may have express agreements about how and when you can be fired, and your employee handbook may create some implied contracts that you should be able to rely on, including policies on discrimination, retaliation, and whistleblowing to ensure that your rights are protected. If you ultimately pursue a wrongful termination claim against your employer, having the documents in hand could be invaluable.
Document everything that might support your claim
This could include emails, memos, performance reviews, or any other documentation that you believe is relevant. Keep a detailed record of any conversations you have with your employer or HR representative, including the date, time, and content of the conversation. If possible, ask for a written explanation of the reason for the termination and any documentation that supports the decision. Make copies of your personal records, including written performance reviews and awards you’ve received in the past and take them home.
Return everything that belongs to the company
If you do decide to pursue legal action against your employer, you want to make sure that you have “clean hands” when you bring your case. This means that you don’t want to do anything that your former employer can bring up to discredit you.
Make sure that you remove all personal data from company electronics and return them as required by your employer. Do not take anything – even a spare pen – that doesn’t belong to you when you pack up your desk.
If you’re about to be fired, don’t make a scene or issue threats. Preserve your dignity – and your options for the future. This is the time to get some experienced legal guidance and fully explore all possible ways to resolve the issue to your satisfaction.