“You're Fired” – Now What?
By Howard A. Levitt
Lang Michener LLP
Monster Employment Law Expert
No one wants to hear those dreaded words. Whether you are told that you have been “fired”, “terminated”, “dismissed”, “let go”, “downsized”, “restructured” or “laid off” it all means the same thing - you no longer have a job with your employer. How you handle the termination meeting and the days following can be critical in preserving the relationship with your employer and building bridges to move forward. The following guidelines will assist you in managing the loss of your job and handling the shocking news:
- Listen carefully during the termination meeting. You may be stunned by the news that you have lost your job. This may make it difficult to concentrate and listen. Try not to get angry. You may be tempted to jump up, storm out of the room, cry or yell at the person who is delivering this bad news. However, it is important to focus and act in a professional manner. You may be advised of the reason for the termination and whether it is for just cause or without cause.
Do not be surprised if the termination meeting is very brief and that you are asked to leave the workplace directly from the meeting. Some people are escorted from out of the workplace by security or meet with an outplacement officer.
Also, do not be surprised if you are offered a cab ride home to ensure that you get there safely.
- Do not sign anything. You may be provided with a termination package at the meeting. You will likely be too shocked to properly read and concentrate on the contents. Take the termination package home with you and review it carefully within the next few days. Most termination packages contain a letter outlining a severance offer as well as a release.
- Your personal belongings. Remember to collect your personal belongings. Only take what belongs to you from the workplace. This may include any pictures you have at your desk, your favourite coffee cup or any other personal items. Do not remove any of the company’s property or documents.
- See a lawyer. It is important to make an appointment with a lawyer to review the termination package and release as soon as possible. There will be legal language in the documents which may make them difficult to understand. The lawyer can assess whether the severance package you are being offered is reasonable based on your circumstances, such as your age, position and length of service. It will be important to bring all of the documents related to your employment to the meeting with the lawyer. This includes any offer letter or employment agreement you may have signed. You may have also signed other agreements during your employment such as a confidentiality agreement, an intellectual property agreement, or a non-solicitation and/or non-competition agreement which determines your rights and obligations upon the termination of your employment.
- Understand your obligations going forward. You may have entered into various agreements with your employer that place limits on what you can and cannot do in future employment. For example, you may have signed a non-solicitation agreement stating that you will not contact or solicit your employer’s customers for a certain period of time. You need to review these obligations with your lawyer so that you do not find yourself being sued by your previous employers.
- Start planning your future career. Try to look at the cup half full and move forward. It is important to start your job search right away. Try to get a reference letter from your previous employer to assist you in looking for new employment. Put together a list of your contacts and begin networking. Also, start looking at newspapers and conduct internet searches for job opportunities.
Although it may not seem like it in the beginning, losing your job may be the best thing that ever happened to you.
For more information or to arrange a telephone consultation or a visit to our offices in Toronto, Ottawa or Vancouver, please visit http://www.canadaemploymentlaw.com/.