Losing a job can be a troubling and stressful experience. We've put together a list of things to consider if you've been terminated.
- Listen. In the termination meeting, listen carefully to what your employer has to say. Ask questions, but be respectful. Record the meeting if you have the opportunity (but be sure to obey any policies your employer may have on recording in the workplace).
- Don't burn bridges. Although you may feel like your termination was unfair, wrong, or even illegal, don't burn bridges with your prior employer. When your employer informs you of your termination, try to be as respectful as possible and don't make a scene. Don't give your employer any ammunition for the future.
- Take some time. Losing your job can be unsettling. Take some time (even if it's just a day) to gather your thoughts, regroup, and plan for the future.
- Healthcare. If your employer offers COBRA, you may be able to continue your healthcare coverage for up to 18 months after your termination. COBRA applies to employers with 20 or more employees, and your employer should provide you with a notice explaining your rights under the law. You have 60 days to elect coverage and if you do so, the coverage will be retroactive back to the date of your termination. COBRA coverage can be expensive. If you've got other options (like a spouse's healthcare plan or coverage under the Affordable Care Act), consider those as well, but know that you typically only have 30 days after you've lost your own coverage to obtain coverage under another plan.
- Retirement Benefits. Ask your Human Resources or Benefits Coordinator for a Summary Plan Description (SPD) for any retirement benefits (401K, pension, profit-sharing, etc.) you had with your employer. The SPD should provide information on what options you have in the event of job loss.
- Finances. Take a look at your financial situation and cut back on unessential expenses. Cut your cable cord, cancel your gym membership, and stop eating out.
- Contact your Creditors. Call your creditors and let them know you've lost your job. Often, they will work with you to find a payment schedule that works. Consider unemployment insurance for car and mortgage payments. You may be able to defer some loan payments, like student loans, until you get a new job.
- Unemployment Benefits. File for unemployment. Be aware that any unemployment benefits you are entitled to will not begin until after the end of any severance period.
- Job Search. Networking is the best way to find a new job, so polish your resume and start contacting friends, family, and others who may be able to help you.
- Legal. If you believe you have a claim against your prior employer, gather your timesheets, pay stubs, performance reviews, and any other documents you have that could be pertinent to your claims. Sit down and make a detailed timeline of all relevant events (be sure to cover the who, what, when, where, and whys of how your termination came about). This will be very useful for any attorney you decide to contact.
You can find more resources here, here, and here. If you feel as though your termination occurred because you experienced illegal discrimination or spoke out about illegal discrimination, contact us to talk about your options today.