Employee Rights When Your Job is Terminated

Employee Rights After a Job Termination

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Noel Hendrickson / Photographer's Choice RF

What are your rights as an employee when your job is terminated? Sometimes employment termination can be unforeseen and sudden, and other times employees are given many warnings and advance notice.

Because a lay-off can happen to anyone, often without warning, it is extremely important to be prepared to change jobs. Periodically update your resume, even if you don’t think you will need it soon. Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date, and keep in contact with your network.

Preparing yourself for all outcomes will allow for a smooth transition if you need to make any change in employment.

Fortunately, terminated employees have certain rights. In addition to a final paycheck, employees could be entitled to things like continued health insurance coverage, extended benefits, severance pay, and unemployment compensation. It is important to know exactly what your rights as an employee are when you lose your job.

Your Rights When Your Employment is Terminated

Jay Warren, counsel in the New York office of Bryan Cave LLP, shares his expertise on employee rights and options for seeking assistance if you have questions about those rights, if you believe you have been discriminated against and/or have been subjected to wrongful termination.

Sources of Employee Rights

1, Contract Rights 
Employees who have an individual contract with their employer or employees covered by a union/collective bargaining agreement would be covered under the stipulations in the contract if their employment is terminated.

2. Company Policy
When a company plans lay-offs it may have a severance plan in effect. If so, severance pay may be provided if your employment is terminated.

3. Statutory Rights
Statutory rights are those provided by federal or state law. They include unemployment insurance, advance notification of the closing of or a substantial lay-off at a facility (depending on the size of the company), anti-discrimination laws, and anti-retaliation laws.

Getting Information on Your Rights

When you're not sure about your rights, the best place to start is with the company Human Resources department. Even if they are in the process of terminating your employment, they can answer questions; let you know what company benefits you are eligible for, and can guide you through the process of leaving employment.

Have a Question?

Check out these answers to the most frequently asked questions about termination from employment, including reasons for getting fired, employee rights when you have been terminated, collecting unemploymentwrongful termination, saying goodbye to co-workers and more.

When You Need Help

If you feel that you have been discriminated against or haven't been treated according to the law or company policy, you can get assistance.

The US Department of Labor, for example, has information on each law that regulates employment and advice on where and how to file a claim. Your state labor department may also be able to assist you, depending on state law and the circumstances.

In addition, local bar associations often have a referral service and may even have a hotline you can call to find an employment lawyer. Keep in mind that you will need to pay for an attorney's services.

Read More: 50+ Frequently Asked Questions About Getting Fired | Questions to Ask the Employer When You're Fired