Do I Have to Sign My Termination or Separation Agreement?

“The company called me in after being on a three-day suspension. I thought I was being called back to work, instead my manager fired me. I was in shock.

My manager puts the termination paperwork in front of me and tells me I have to sign it to get my final paycheck.  He did not give me a copy of it and I think I might have signed something that says I did something wrong when I believe I have not done anything wrong. What do I do?”

This situation arises when terminations come as a surprise to you. It does not matter if you are being terminated for cause or employment at will, you may feel like you are under stress or duress.  All you want to do is to get as far away from this situation as possible and you are ready to sign anything just to get out of the room.

Then the reality of “oh what did I just do” sets in. So what are your options when you are in the middle of being terminated and the company is demanding you to sign off on some paperwork?

Take a deep breath and read the document.

  • Is the document simply affirming that the company is firing you, letting you go, laying you off or asking you to say you quit?
  • Does the letter demand that you give up some personal rights?
  • How detailed is the letter – does it simply say you are being terminated on a specific day or does it state the reason for termination?
  • Does the letter outline any special circumstances?

Be clear about what you are signing

If the termination letter is asking for a confession or admission of guilt or is stating you that you give up some employee rights, you can opt not to sign it.

For example, if the company wants you to say you quit and you are being laid off, are you still eligible for unemployment? Be sure to check your State Unemployment regulations.

Another major concern is giving up your employee rights to any benefits, monies due (bonus, stock, equity), EEOC and unlawful termination claims or any rights to sue in exchange for a financial settlement.

These types of termination arrangements are often referred to as separation agreements and should reviewed by an attorney or at the very least considered carefully before signing your consent.

Consider an alternative

If you refuse to sign your termination paperwork, your ex-employer will not be happy. Do you care? Maybe not, though it is always best to leave on good terms and there may be a win-win solution.

When you sign the termination papers, you can include the following phrase under your signature:

Signature acknowledges receipt only

By including this caveat, you leave little doubt about why you are signing the document. There is no admission of guilt or agreement on why the company is terminating your services.

Ask the company to make a copy of your termination paperwork for your records. The company is not obligated to do this (unless you are being asked to do a separation agreement), so if they say “no” do not be surprised.  Remember though, if you do not ask, you will never receive what you want.

Get other facts

In most states, you are not required to sign a termination document – check your state’s regulations for additional information. There are companies who terminate people in many ways – by phone, fax or e-mail – all without signatures required.

Companies cannot withhold your final paycheck for not signing a termination notice. If they do, contact your local Department of Labor. Some states require employers to have the final paycheck at the time of termination.

Employees who are in a union or are under an employment agreement will have a defined process in their contract and should refer to it for the correct procedure.

Please note: I get a lot of questions on this post for specific advice. I generally respond to anyone that writes a comment, however, do not expect to receive advice that is 100% relevant to your situation. There is always more to the story and that requires me to work with people individually in a coaching session. If you do not have the funds to work with a career coach, you can 1) research other articles on Elephants at Work and glean an answer that works for you or 2) consider purchasing either of my eBooks, put in a little elbow grease and craft your own answers. Bottom line: making it work takes investment of your time, money or resources. 

  1. This was really informative Lynn. I have seen many employees go through this process and just sign away without really reading any documentation or understand what they are signing. The end result was usually that they were not able to file for unemployment because of the nature of the termination. The employee was never able to fight it since the company had signed documentation to back them up.

    This also brings up a good question – ‘Do they have to sign the termination letter?’ I never really thought of that as an option but I guess it really is.

    I like the ‘Signature acknowledges receipt only’. This was another thing I didn’t realize. I will definitely share these tools with staff when I am approached with questions.

    Thanks for the post!

  2. Thanks Lynn,
    This post sounds all to familiar.  I experienced a similar situation, not knowing what to do, at time of downsizing.  This post will save a lot of people some stress and frustration.

  3. Most states allow employees to revoke their separation agreement by signature within 7-21 days (If remuneration is offered). Most juries will agree that employees are signing under mental duress. Many separating employees when being fired will write under their signature “Do not agree” etc.. This seems to be standard now. I agree that you should always be congenial and cordial no matter how the company is treating you, by doing so you will maintain your dignity, and hope fully gain their respect. When an employee either acts out verbally or becomes disruptive, most managers will feel like they made the right decision letting them go! It does the departing party no good.

    Thanks Lynn for a great article, on a tough subject. You are always able to present a touchy subject in a positive way.

  4. Pingback: Great Leadership: The January Leadership Development Carnival: Best of 2011 Edition

  5. So here is my question. I recentley got terminated from a job, I since have a new one. BUt when I was released, my boss (ex boss) had me fill out and sign my own seperation form, as he stood over watched and prompted me what to write. Admittedly, I was so angry and not thinking straight and just wanted to get my check and leave before I mopped the floor with him, as anyone would. I know he probably took advantage of the situaion to avoid paying unemploymet, but my question is, can he do that? Prompt me on what to say? and if not, was be breaking the law? I live in Oregon if it helps

    • Brian, Congratulations on the new job. The approach your old boss took may or not have been illegal depending on the situation. If anyone finds themselves in these kinds of situations, my advice is to let your employer that the news of your termination is a shock and that you need to talk to someone else before writing or signing any documents. Employers have a right to fire you, they don’t have a right to “make” you write a confession or your termination letter. When you are in these kinds of situations, thinking straight is not at the top of the list because you are stressed and confused.

      • My question does the company give you the WORK EXPERIENCE request letter once you are fired and no longer associate with that company?

        Also, how will that company recommend ?

        Is it worth to put the WORK EXPERIENCE of that company to cover up the gaps for making new CV?

        How to overcome this trauma?

        • In the United States is not common to ask for or receive a work experience letter from the company. What a company says will depend on your experience with them. All employment should be included on a job application, what you put on your resume may be different. However, if there is a discrepancy, you will need to account for it and the company may or may not understand why you were not forthcoming.

      • I was working in a call centre in a training period whuch should be 7 they took 14 or more days to train us because of their internal conflicts i was a student i just wanted to earn quick clean money but till the time i got on job it was too late my results were about to be out and admission process was to be started i worked for 2days and then left as this was my first job i was nervous to approach seniors so i just switched off my phone ignored their calls coz i thought after 1 or 2days they will just terminate me or abscond me i will never ever work for a call centre ever again that was the stress i felt der so to leave it was a good decision but after 2minths today i am receiving a notice of termination and they’re calling me to complete the procedure and demanding recovery of 6,000Rs i am confused what should i do my admission procedures are still going on and i dont have 6k to pay them i lost more wen i travelled to go there so i am not at all planning to pay or show up. Plzz give me your advice.

  6. I was terminated from a director level position for being careless with my expenses i.e. same ones had gone through twice…others I had verbal authorization from my VP to put through despite it was not company policy (paying for employee dinners, golf, to boost moral etc). [i know dumb on my part]
    Also, despite me requesting a company CC I was never issued one, so I had to put $100k’s on my personal CC over the past years-company events, client events, entertaining, and Sales Employee Prizes. Now employee prizes, I should have had them sign for the prizes, but I didn’t, nobody ever did. Although employees would vouch for me that I didn’t just buy all this stuff for me. However the company decided to pile that on top of my termination, saying that I had stolen over $85k. Obviously I didn’t. I just didn’t have a paper trail to prove it.

    They made me sign papers releasing me saying they would ‘not pursue me at this time’…whatever that means. But I paid $40k for a company event before I was fired, and now say that they won’t pay back now…is that legal? They said, consider us even. But I never kept all that stuff…I mean I drive a 6 year old smart car for crying out loud…they said if I pursued my reimbursements…then they would hold me liable for the $85k they said I mismanaged. (can they ‘pursue me later’?)

    I don’t know what to do…I’m $40k in debt now with no job. Please help…

    • You are definitely in a major jam. If you have not sought advice from an employment attorney, I would see one pronto. They may be able to help you with recovering the monies from the event – hopefully you have a paper trail on that since it was recent. You need to have someone (attorney) talk to the company on your behalf, this is not a conversation you should have given the circumstances. If you signed the agreement recently, again, the attorney may be able to help you depending on the state you live in.

  7. I was on employment insurance for a month, then I accept this job. The owner pair me up with one very rude employee recruited from jamaica under contract work, who is really abusive verbally, he will yell and scream on me. No employee have last long in this small operated at home business. After working 3 weeks, the owner tell me to take 3 days off study the equipment on my own time at home. Back on Tuesday for 1 hour, then tell me to go home for 2 more days. Then call me to come back just to tell me that I will be separated from the company. Let me sign a paper, which he is reading but didn’t let me see. Because of my state of pressure situation I just want to get out and sign the paper, which I didn’t really know what is actually in there. He reads about disclosure for company secret and I told him I never disclose anything. He said he mean not disclosing it. He said he will give me a copy but he didn’t and I forget because he walk me out the door.
    On Monday I will go back ask for a copy
    My questions are;
    What if he don’t want to give me a copy, can I do anything?
    If there is something I disagree but I already sign it, can I do something?
    Can he forces employee to sign it without let them read, is this illegal?
    If I work for one hour and sent me home, don’t I get 4 hours pay?
    This mean employee that was yelling at me at work all the time, can I complain to the human right?

    • Sam,

      I can not give you specific advice because there are many questions I would ask someone in your situation and sometimes the state you live in makes a difference on what you can and can not do. However, there are a few things I can comment on:

      1) when employers want you to sign something-especially when you are leaving you must read the document before signing it. Any employer who reads something to you and does not let you read it yourself or have a someone else (who does not work for the employer) read it to you on your behalf is not looking out for your best interests.

      2) Always get a copy at the time of signature. I realize you wanted to get out of there but not getting your copy will make things more difficult. The company may or may not give you a copy.

      3) What concerns me is what you signed since you really don’t know. If you gave away rights such as you signed a letter of resignation, you will have a more difficult time collecting unemployment. Make sure you file and contest if you get denied. I have several articles on here outlining the process for contesting unemployment or you can get my What to Do After Being Fired eBook.

      4) The hours you worked and get paid are govern by your state.

      5) Anyone can make a complaint to their Human Rights organization. They will request facts, conversations or actions document, dates and witnesses who will speak on your behalf.

      Good luck!

  8. my employer called me and asked me to sign on a resignation later,i said,i wont sign,then they told me,they will terminate me,and send me the termination letter by post,i didint signed anything and walked out of office,
    my services are confirmed in the company,what should i do,if they send me termination letter by post.

  9. I have been told my job is being eliminated and that since my employer is a 501(c)3 they do not have to pay for unemployment insurance. I know they will be requiring a separation agreement. Most of these types of agreements I have helped draft (my boss is the in-house counsel) have indicated it is mutually agreed upon. I am no way in agreement of this termination without cause or based upon any wrongful act on my part. Two Questions:
    1. Can I state on the pre-written agreement what I am in agreement with if not all of what is stated?
    2. If I sign this agreement am eligible for unemployment benefits?

    • Deby,

      You may want to check out this article from Guide Star: Alternatives to Unemployment Taxes for 501(c)(3)s. While any advice you find has a caveat that you need to double and triple check, your organization will have to pay unemployment insurance one way or another. To answer you questions, 1) You can negotiate what is included/excluded in an agreement as long as both parties mutually agree. It is highly unlikely that your employer will agree to something that is contrary to why the mutual agreement is being signed. 2) Your eligibility is determined by the state unemployment office and each state varies in how they look at separation agreements. If you are concerned, run it by them before signing it.

  10. I read this #11 before and have read it again. Thank you for the insight on signging the agreement but it does not address another question about the organization being a 501(c)3 and are their claim that unemployment benefits are not available to employees terminated due to their “church” status. Is that true?

  11. , I was with a major company for 23 years. I oversaw the functions of two Divisions. One evening I was involved in a car accident on company property of which was not my fault. The GM of the division I was driving on demanded I take a drug test. Company policy states drug tests are given only if there are injuries. My accident had no injuries. I was sent a copy of the email where this person told others for me to take the drug test. I was humiliated because of my position and that the word leaked out to all employees. I took the drug test to prove my innocence and I passed.
    I was now being told this individual wanted to replace me. I had support from my
    regional team and my other boss. They basically said to deal with her. Mind here that I have always received above average reviews and accommodations up to this point.
    I saw it was now going to be an uphill battle with this individual
    So I requested a Mutually Agreed Seperation. I was told by others above me not to do this but it’s easier said than done when your not in the position. I was given the Mutually Agreed Upon Seperation within days then let go. It paid for my benefits and wages for a decent amount of time. Since then my asst that makes half my wage was put into the position..
    My question is do I have any recourse here 18 months later? I even asked for a transfer during this time but none where available. It came down to take the package or get into an altercation, impossible work task, etc… then get fired. I also believe if this individual had not screwed up by sending me to take the test I would have never been offered a Mutually Agreed Upon Seperation. Any assistance is appreciated.

    • Jay,

      The questions you ask are reasonable though require a more thorough examination of your situation and agreement to get good advice. It is something you should discuss with a professional – either an attorney or HR career expert. If you would like me to work through this with you personally, I work with clients on these kinds of situations. Feel free to review my services at

  12. One and the half month ago, i joined a new company with a signed employment contract.
    Up to date, i have no received any salary but received a termination letter and an offer letter in other email.
    The termination letter mentioned they are pleased with my performance and happy to work with me, only mentioned the decision was made due to the change in company.
    The new offer letter reduce about 30% of my first employment contract pay with them.
    Pleas advise what i shall do next. Thanks.

    • I would advise asking an employment attorney since you reside in the U.K. Employment contracts vary greatly by country and whether they can be modified. In the U.S., employment is at-will and employment conditions can be changed unless the employee is covered by a collective bargaining agreeemnt. Let us know how it turns out to help others in similiar situations.

  13. My husband just got let go a week ago. The very small firm that he was with let him go just 2 weeks before the 5-month mark before he was eligible for a sign-on bonus. His former boss was erratic, confrontational, and extremely unpleasant to work with. He would love my husband one day, saying he was doing a great job, then threaten to fire him the next because he didn’t pick up his phone when the boss called him. The boss never gave him a good reason for releasing him – something about needing someone who could travel more; on the separation agreement, there was a lot of legal mumble jumble – non-compete clause, indemnification clause, etc. – at the top of the agreement, it stated the split was amicable, and it offered one-week severence. The boss wanted it signed within 7 days. However, on the state unemployment paperwork the firm sent over, the reason for dismissal was noted as “job performance”; my husband hasn’t signed the agreement (technically he has 21 days since he’s over 40) because he’s afraid if he does, it would affect his ability to get unemployment. The boss called today to say he may have a project for my husband to work on but asked him to just sign the separation agreement, and he’ll “make sure” my husband receives unemployment. The whole thing just seems fishy to me. We cannot afford to hire a lawyer to review the agreement but will if you think it’s necessary. It seems like a standard agreement to me, but we have no other experience with this sort of thing. My questions are: 1) My husband qualifies for unemployment regardless of whether he was fired or laid off, right? He hasn’t done anything to violate company policy or broken the law; 2) Is there any language we should be looking out for in the agreement that would prevent him from receiving unemployment?; 3) Any ideas as to why the boss wants my husband to sign the agreement so desperately? Is he afraid of being sued? I can’t imagine for what (in other words, we can’t sue him for his bad attitude and terrible management skills). Thank you!!!

    • Hello Chris,
      Your husband is in a sticky situation. To be honest, any one giving you advice without knowing more of the facts and seeing the documents is not being professional. However, there are a few things he can do. Contact your local unemployement office and ask them if what is being said as the reason for termination qualifies for unemployment benefits. This does not mean that his employer will grant it, they may contest it…and that is a different issue.

      As for navigating the discussion with the former boss/company, I would advise that he talk with an employment attorney or someone who specializes in these kinds of situations. I have the experience being a former HR VP about what should be done. My 90 Minute Power Coaching Session is an ideal solution because he can send background information and his separation agreement before we speak by phone. Those facts will define the appropriate steps to take and in what order. I realize that money is tight, but if you get a positive result, it was well worth the investment. Good luck!

  14. What if a Employee Resignation letter says, “further, I brought any complaints that I may have had regarding any supervisors or co-workers or their treatment of me to the companys attention, and any such complaints have been resolved.” Is that including all leagal action; like sexual harassment?

  15. I was terminated from my job this morning. This all came out of nowhere. My “lead” came to me with 3 write ups, along with my termination paper. I did not sign them, but do I have a right to those papers?

    • Usually a company provides employees copies (you may have to ask) of discplinary actions at the time of discussion – the process would be outlined in a company handbook or policy. However, once an employee is terminated, companies do not feel compelled to give this information to ex-employees unless they are directed by a law judge or the court because of action being taken against the termination. The time to get that information was before you left the company and sometimes that is not possible.

  16. After years of employment, I was asked to sign a non-compete agreement. At one point I was threatened that if I didn’t sign I would be fired. I ended up signing the agreement. However, 12 days later they fired me.
    Is the agreement still valid in WA?

    • MGC, I would get the advice of an employment attorney in your state since non-compete agreements vary by state. There are some states that require compensation if your non-compete prevents you from finding employment because of highly specialized skills. As for validity, the attorney will review with you the circumstances leading up to both events and advise you.

  17. Can my ex employer withold my final paycheck until I sign a termination agreement? It has been over a month since my layoff but I don’t agree with the terms in his agreement. He is threatening to claim that I caused the company harm if I sue. I wasn’t the most motivated employee but I certainly never caused the company harm!

    • Mary – Your employer can not hold your final paycheck for hours worked because you have not signed off on a termination agreement. Employers can withhold severance if the severance is connected with the agreeement. Contact your local unemployment office for help or an attorney to help you.

  18. They are terminating you so there’s no reason to sign a termination letter. My last employer tried to get me to sign a termination paper with the top half not filled in. I told her your firing me so there is no point nor benefit of me signing that. Look if someone is terminating you why the hell sign it…. to look good to them ?They don’t care about you nor would they want you back if they are terminating you. SCREW THAT! If you feel like you were harassed, wrongfully terminated, or terminated for no good reason I wouldn’t sign I’d protect myself and go to the unemployment line and in some cases a great labor lawyer. Ultimately the only one going to look out for you is you.

  19. Last week I was terminated from my job. My manager said it was for insufficiency. However, just last month, my big boss came into my office and told me what an asset I was to his company. I was completely blindsided, especially because of my boss’s praise. Also, I told the company the week before that I was pregnant.
    When they brought me in to tell me I was terminated, They told me I had to sign a paper, along with my manager and the company manager, but didn’t let me read it or have a copy. Then they told me to sign an agreement that I would not file for unemployment if they paid me $600 a week for 8 weeks. I refused, but now they are threatening me with “documentation” concerning my termination.
    Six months ago, they fired one of my co-workersfor being late – 2 weeks after she told them she was pregnant. She had received one reprimand for being late in the 5 years she’d worked there. I’ve been reprimanded once in the 3 years I’ve worked there. I’ve never been asked to sign any documentation acknowledging that reprimand. After speaking to the terminated co-worker, it seems that the “documentation” they refer to is the paper they made me sign at termination and then refused my copy.
    My question is this. Do I have a legal right to rescind my signature on the document? I most certainly signed under duress and was unaware of it’s contents. Evidently it has verbage about not filing for unemployment. It would seem that the separate document I refused to sign would be misleading in that I believed it was a separate issue from the paper signed.

    I appreciate any help you could offer.

    Thank you.

    • Laura, The best scenerio is to find an attorney (or legal aid) pronto who can help you and go to your unemployment office and let them know what has happened. Your employer must provide you with a copy of the signed agreement and allow you time to rescind it if it states 1) you have quit vs. you being terminated and 2) you will not file any legal action and 3) you are receiving payments in exchange for your cooperation. If you were in fact terminated, I do not believe they can ask you to sign away your unemployment benefits – however states may vary.

      • Thank you so much for your response. I have sent a request for a copy of the paper I signed. My next question to you is this. Where would I find a sample of a letter (Texas) to rescind my signature? I don’t think there is any question that the document was signed under duress, and from everything I’ve researched, I have from 7 to 21 days, depending on the state, to send a certified letter stating that I wish to rescind my signature.

        Again, thanks for all your help.

        • Hi Laura,

          I am not sure what forms you will need for your state. You have probaly googled it by now. Normally, you want to be very specific about what you are asking for and to send the copy by certified mail.

  20. During my six year tenure with my employer, I believe my problem began when they hired a new manager 3 year ago. I believe I was discriminated because I of my ethnic background “Asian American”. I was told by my manager that I had a “Grammar” problem. I was offended by her comments and took that as racial profiling me. I was also told by my manager that I did not meet there standards, but my employee review has high marks. I discovered that I did not get a raise or bonus when everyone else did. I was told by my manager 1 week prior to receiving my employee review that I will not be getting a “raise” or “bonus”. I believe my manager retaliated against me by decreasing my work load thus justify a way for termination.

    I filed a complaint against my former employer with EEOC and the doctrine is now in hand of the Office of Human Rights mediation process. I just went through a mediation today held at the Office of Human Rights. We have not come to an agreement.

    However, I did sign the separation agreement. I was forced into signing the document in order to receive the severance pay. Although the separation letter stated that I resigned from my position the company still offered me a severance pay perhaps to shut me up. I found the wording a little suspicious. I did not resign from my position but was wrongfully terminated. I requested to change the wording for accuracy but the human resource manager annoyingly said that if they change the document in anyway then they will take away the severance pay.

    The statement above is just a fraction of what I have experienced with this company. I began documenting every detail of mistreatment. I have printed hard copies of all the email, employee reviews, dated and time with names for proof of evidence. Apparently this company has had many employees sue them for discrimination, gender, age., ect.

    I am uncertain if my case has any validity what so ever, that why I’m reaching out for help.

    • Geo, Cases such as yours are very complex. There is no one that can tell you if you have an case without going through everything much more thoroughly. However, that being said, if the EEOC has taken your case, they must believe there is something to it. They are understaffed and reject more cases than they take on.
      Regarding the separation agreement – there is no reason you have to sign on the spot. ALWAYS take this kind of letter to an attorney or another HR expert in this area for review.

      In fact, separation letters that require you to give up something in return for payment (separation pay) have a built in review period for you to do just that. I realize that employers dangle the pay as an incentive to sign, but that doesn’t go away if you are seeking professional advice in a timely manner. If the employer is not offering the review period, then something is WRONG.

      In your situation, you gave up being terminated by the company vs. saying you resigned. At face value, that sounds like a sweet deal and in most cases it is beneficial to the departing employee. Where it becomes more difficult is if the company is violating other state or federal laws.

  21. I work for a global corporation and was suspended 2 days ago for 3 days without pay because a coworker said I threatened him. It was backed up by 2 other workers who have been in cohoots with him ever since i was made a shift leader.

    3 months ago, this employee (a male) went in and made a complaint that I was leaving work without punching out. Another ( a woman), went in and said the same thing and also complained that I did not talk to her in ways that she wanted to be talked to (i.e. I have to ask her please to do her job and to say thank you everytime I asked her to do her job). The male also made another complaint that I was discriminating against him because I would not ask him to work weekends.

    The company called me into HR and told me an investigation was being done against me on these matters. Days later they called me back in and told me the investigation is over and they proved that these coworkers had lied.

    I filed a harassment complaint against the male 1st. I stated that he has called me a ‘rat’ for informing my boss that he was leaving a half hour early on many, many ocassions when he is mandatory hour employee. He also went around and told other coworkers I was getting fired because he called the corporate office over 10 times on this matter. He was also trying to stir things up on a daily basis with his snide comments outloudly about me, which I tried to ignore. And not to mention the fact that he blatantely lied about me leaving work.

    They wound up in house ‘counseling’ him and he had to sign a paper stating not to do these types of things again.

    After hearing what his punishment turned out to be (comical) I didnt even attempt to file 1 against the other.

    Since that period, the male has constantly made remarks still. I have told my boss and upper management about this as has another leader has. With no attempt on their part to correct it. Which leads to the suspension.

    After hearing that he went to my boss to tell him that I dont do any work, I actually work part of 1st shift and all of second, I approached him to tell him what I do and dont do is none of his business. He told me it was his business. I said, no. I’m a leader as is another person. His response was ‘you aint sh*t’. I said I’m a leader. With the noise of our depeartment I heard him say something with the lasts words of ‘going outside’. I responded with, if you want to invite me outside, I will go.

    Of the 8 people working in our dept., they interviewed 3 people before suspending me. The male, the woman and another male. Remarkably, they all had the same story this time. Unfortunately, the woman was standing 40 feet away, yet she heard only me ‘threatening’ him. The other male standing 15 feet away only heard the same thing without hearing any of the other things. Another worker standing 15 feet away didnt hear a word of it all because of the noise level.

    At no point did HR call me into the office for my side. Only to tell me I was suspended. After the fact, did 1 boss start to question some other workers as I was leaving.

    I have lost many hours of works due to the stress this man has caused; not to mention being labeled as a threatening person when I threatened no one, yet the company keeps allowing this individual to stir the pot at every chance he gets.

    Even my boss has said this individual is very unstable mentally and even made the comment of “I am afraid if we let him go he will come back and shoot it up”. As has the HR dept. saying he is short a few marbles upstairs.

    What can I do ?


    • Hello John,

      You have a complicated situation that has escalated into a turf war. Rarely does this situation get better without some dramatic change in approach and behavior. While this is not exactly your situation, I would be asking some similar questions in this post: What to do when your boss wants to fire you. My advice, if you want to salvage it, you’re going to have to some things different to affect your co-worker’s perceptions and that takes lots of self-reflection.

  22. I was a general manager for a major fast food restaurant. I had been with the company for over 2 years with no documentation. I received documentation from my employer stating that cash deposits were being taken late to the bank. After receiving the documentation for the next 2 weeks before termination I ensured that deposits and paperwork revolving around cash was 100%. My boss came in on a Friday evening and informed me he was letting me go due to a missing deposit that had not made it to the bank on a day I was not scheduled to work. After filing for unemployment, the company changed what they told me and informed unemployment that I had a deposit to go to the bank late instead of a missing deposit. What do I do if I was told one thing at separation then informed another during the unemployment hearing.

    • Chris,

      The devil is always in the details when it comes to defending yourself in a hearing where the employer may not be telling the whole truth. Refer to this post: 11 things to do or expect when contesting your unemployment claim denial to help you think through your strategy. I don’t give direct advice on complicated matters on this blog because there are too many variables that have to be discussed – that’s a service I provide my clients. Any employment attorney could help you with your case too. I would suspect you have a good chance of beating it with the right approach.

  23. I want to know if it is not stated in the paper work why I was terminated just that I was I dont know the reason so when I have my interview will I be denied because I dont know

    • Windy,

      Employers often state if the termination is voluntary or involuntary. If it is involuntary, employers usually tell you why if it is not for cause for example due to a layoff, job consolidation or closure. If it is for cause – they may or not spell it out but you probably know why you are being laid off because there was an incident or you have been through a progressive discipline process where the last stage is termination. If you really don’t know, then call the employer (HR) and ask them.

  24. I was terminated recently as manager of a skilled care unit. I was called in abruptly at the start of my shift, told by the DON that I was terminated due to willful misconduct related to a medical record. Subsequently, I was denied unemployment due to my failure to provide employer with “expected behavior”. Although I made a mistake, it was not willful, nor done with any idea it was an issue. In addition, per the facility policy, there is supposed to be a “witness” during the termination meeting. there is even a line below my signature on the discharge form that calls for a witness signature. specific to the witness signature, could this be considered a wrongful firing based on the lack of a witness or am I just out of luck?

    • Terminated Employee,

      To answer your first question, not having a witness will not change things with UE unless you are part of a bargaining unit and you were denied access to one. Typically, the witness is more for the employer’s protection, not yours. Think about it, if another employee was present, who are they going to side with?

      Regarding UE, they will always deny this type of claim. You have to go through the appeal process and it can be a long one. You have to have a good case to present. Most people have difficulty doing this alone. If you believe you have a case, get someone who has expertise in this area to help you or hire someone – ie an attorney or other expert. Refer to this post: 11 things to do or expect when contesting your unemployment claim denial

  25. Hi Lynn,

    This past Friday I was “laid off” from my job as an executive assistant to the CEO as well as the office manager. My boss who was the CEO was unexpectedly voted out of his position and in turn the new CEO let me go because he said my “position has been terminated”. I was actually fired over the phone and then was asked to come back into the office that day to get my stuff. My final paycheck and unused PTO was mailed to me along with a separation of employment packet. Basically this packet states that I will get a severance equal to 2 weeks pay if I sign the agreement. To be short this agreement is a gag order. I was only given 7 days to sign it and the clock is ticking. Being that I was caught completely off guard and have been very upset I have had no time to even have an attorney look at it and I feel very uneasy about the fact that they want to take all my rights away from me. I have no intentions of doing anything to the company but this paperwork protects them from me ever suing them but it doesn’t protect me from anything. I think the 7 day timeline is ridiculous and the fact that they are trying to get me to sign knowing that I need the money seems unethical. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place in that i do need the money to get me through the next 2 weeks however I really don’t want to give away my rights to take action against them because I haven’t had time to fully process what has happened. They did not have to offer me a severance which also makes me think that there is more to this and that I actually may have a claim against them and they are hoping I don’t figure it out in time. I am feeling very taken advantage of because this is the first time I have been in this situation and I am a 28 year old female. Any suggestions on what I should do would be greatly appreciated. I should also point out that I am able to get unemployment which i immediately applied for upon my termination. Thanks for your time!

    • Ashley,

      It burns me when companies are insensitive about letting someone go – sorry this happened to you! They are not obligated to give you a long time to consider your severance agreement because you are under 40. It is rally your choice if you believe the two weeks of pay is worth giving up any future action with the company. If you do not plan to do anything, take the money and ask for a recommendation. It is common that new CEOs and senior executives like to bring in their own staff. The next employer will not see this as a red flag if you explain it properly. Good luck!

  26. I worked for the same company for 27 years and was recently terminated. I can,t say too much because, i am working with an attorney in this matter. It pretty much started when I thought my boss was going to lay me off again for the 2nd time. I was the longest employee there and the first to be laid off in 2009. I was brought back a month later because nobody could do my job at the time. One of my closest friends whom has a lot of clout with the company told me I could file a complaint against my boss for things that had been said and done to me. I filed a complaint with the acting CEO of the company after asking my friend who I should file with. I did and then all hell broke loose. I started being harassed by my friend whom ended up replacing my boss. A person from corporate came to my station and was also harassing me. This same person also threatened me 2 times before. I ended up yelling at the new boss after the new boss yelled at me saying It isnt my fault that you filed a complaint with the acting CEO. At that point I lost it and yelled at this boss and said I was filing a complaint for retaliation for filing a complaint. I was suspended then terminated. I filed the complaint. They then emailed me saying they filed their own complaint and terminated me for yelling at my boss. My complaint was not even considered as far as I know. I hired an attorney because the wanted me to sign a separation agreement that none of the above happened and of course a severance package. He sent them a letter telling them i refused to sign unless they pay more or we would go to litigation. In the mean time I received compensation for overtime they did not pay me for. Now they only want to give me half of their first offer and sign the same papers. Again I refused. This could go on forever. I am in California. Do you have any suggestions on how I should be handling this or anything else I could do to move this forward. I just want to put this whole situation behind me. They are not going to let this happen. I am wondering if I should get advice from another attorney or just wait it out. I have not been able to get another job either. I have filled out tons of applications and send my resume but nothing has come of it.

    • Michelle,
      The journey you are on to extract yourself from this situation is a long one. If you beleive your attorney is working in your best interest and the timing is what is causing you stress, stay with them. These situations can take a long time to be resolved, sometimes years. If you really want to end it quickly you may have to take less as the offer they have given you is less than the original one, which is a negotiation tactic.

  27. Hello,
    I live in California and my employer suspended me, then fired me over the phone. Also he stated that i could receive my final pay check after i send an email to the company stating that i quit. Is this legal? also so am i officially fired, being that i have not sent the email yet

    • Jim,

      No it is not appropriate, your employer is trying to cover their back. If I recall, CA is required to give you your last paycheck in line with how your pay periods are set up. If you continue to have problems, you may need to engage legal advice.

  28. Hi, was on suspension from my job as well for something they claimed they have me on tape doing. I was locked in an office and signed a statement and promisary to pay some money which is payable but basically I was nervous and stressed out because it was “sign this or we call police” and “let a law firm handle it” so I did and then said 48 hours suspension. Rather then wait for them to call back and say you’re fired I sent in a letter of resignation later to be done with it. The day after that my ex boss calls and leaves a message about separation papers. Im in Texas, do I even have to call him back or go in and look them over? Because truthfully I’d rather not even contact him? Would they be free to sue me or call the police?

    • Lucy,

      You don’t have to call your ex-boss if you do not want to talk with him. The separation papers are a formality and possibly a way for them to tidy up the incident. Here’s the angle though you may want to look at – if the separation papers do not say you were fired or let go for cause, then you may be eligible for unemployment. At this time, you are not because quitting does not qualify. Regardless, ensure you settle up the reimbursement that you committed to.

  29. I was “let go” not by choice and given two months severance pay to be paid over standard pay period for the next two months. Now, the termination letter says by “mutual consent”.

    So, if it is by “mutual consent” will I be eligible for unemployment?

    Even if not, it appears to me I should just agree to it. I get the two months severance, and also get to say I resigned for future employment, and maintain a good reference from current company. Whereas if I ask them to change the termination letter, I lose the above benefits, and I would still not be guaranteed unemployment benefits.

    Am I reading this the right way? Can I still apply for unemployment even if the termination is by mutual consent? And when would I apply, after the two month severance period or on termination date?

    • Rick,

      Mutual consent is one of the best reasons a company can give you – it says you both agree that the working relationship is not working out and no one is at fault. You should not have a problem getting unemployment with that reason. Apply for unemployment NOW ever state is different on the waiting and qualification period.

  30. My wife recently told me that her supervisor has asked her to consider a letter of termination. She has been employed with this employer for the past 15+ years and has received numerous accolades and promotions. The problem arose once one of her old peers was promoted to the executive level and became her immediate supervisor. From that point on this person has been indifferent to her as far as work performed etc. She has pereformed the same tasks for years and has always received the highest praise during year end evaluations now with this new supervisor it has gone down hill. I aksed her if there was anyone in human resources or does her employer have anything in place to address situations whereas employees are left defenseless and at the whim of a hostile supervisor. I don’t know what advise to give her. She told me that the culture within her affialte has changed drastically with the addition of a few new executives and people are afraid to talk/ speak up.

    • Prez,

      This is a situation that often comes up when a peer receives a promotion that puts them into a new role and position within the company. The relationship changes and both sides have to adapt. If your wife is treating the person in the same way, that may be the source of friction. If she wants to stay there, try moving the relationship to business only and keep any personal stuff out of it. Without knowing more details that’s all I can offer at this time. If she wants to work with me one on one, refer to my service offerings.

      • Thanks for your reply I will forward your information to my wife. I understand what you are saying bvut in some instances the person promoted may and can have issues with the other person due to workplace competition, personal issues, or nothing at all. A good leader will put all other non factors to the side and focus on whats better for the company and most of treat everyone fairly with without indifference.

  31. I received termination letter on 87th day of Probation stating that company has decided to terminate you due to Internal Cost Cutting, this the reason what the replied. I asked them what the reason behind this? as my probation is near to complete on 90th day. they replied in “your Department only two people can work there is no space for the third Person(myself) , i was shocked, I said if there was no space for the third Person in the department then why u select me and waste time. I traveled far away from India for job and you are terminating me. thats not fair…..

    By forcefully they taken my sign on termination letter..

    someone kindly advise me on the what to do .

    • Mudassir – A company can elect to terminate an employee at any time. Since the termination was due to a cost cutting effort, it will be much easier to explain why you left this employer to a future employer.

  32. Hi Lynn,

    My employer presented me a notice of termination 2 months ago. It was stated there that since the company has redundancy issue. But they are giving me monthly pay for 2 months and on my last day they will give me additional month pay tax free. And i signed it without consulting anyone and also i was not able to put “signature is for acknowledging receipt only” since i just learned that upon reading your advices and i thank you for that. This is my last month now and i have learned that the company has hired new employees but for a different division but still of same job position i have.

    I am thinking now of going back to my employer and cancel the signed paper. Since it was stated there that the reason for my termination was due to redundancy, but they were able to hire new employees.

    Will that signed document be an issue against me?

    Thanks in advance,

  33. Previous employer has told numerous reference checkers I was terminated. I filed for unemployment and now they claim I quit!

    Can the reference checkers be called to testify or write statements that contradict their new stance making them look like liars.

  34. i was injured at work with a back and twice went to the hospital with stress and anxiety, due to many events at work and my boss messages to me, i worked for 31 years for the same company 4 years as an operator 12 years as production supervisor and 15 years as a plant manager, good performances and use to travel and share expertise and helping other plants . sept. 10 i went to the hospital, stay out for two weeks, because of lots of projects to be accomplished, i went back on sept 25 2012 ,per my boss only to work two days a week only half days, on sept 25 2012 after i was loaded with work , after 3 hours my boss came in to my offices and told me that i was no good and had no skills to run the plant, and since my health was his priority it would be better off for the company to give me 12 weeks of severance pay 90 days of one on one training, since my it took me by surprise, and because i was ill i went home and saw my dr it was a nightmare for me for the next two years im still dealing with lots of pain and my mental disorder is very serious, i have seen a psychiatrist which back in feb 2014 advised me to signed whatever the company wanted so i can move on with myself , i did ask a lower to check my severance package and h e tried to negotiate with the company, but after company denied i couldn’t go on anymore and did signed and agree with the package although they owe me money but they told me know no i was wrong , even showing them the letter that my boss write to me about the money issue. my questions because of my injuries and not been 100 percent mental , can i file a claim for wrongful termination 52 years old and have done great things to this company , even some of my colleagues were very surprise with this all.

    • John,

      Filing a claim for wrongful termination depends on a number of things. First, if you signed a severance agreement where you gave up that right and were compensated beyond the normal severance policy, you will not be able to take action. Second, I would think that your attorney who reviewed your severance agreement would have told you if you had a clear case. Third, good luck finding an attorney who will take your case because honestly, they won’t make any money representing you.

      Here’s the facts – the company has terminated you and it is time to move on and figure out how you can be productive moving forward in your life. That company is not going to be a part of that. Only you can choose to recreate a new beginning by closing the chapter that continues to drag you down. I know it is scary and it may mean that things will change. Good luck!

  35. My friend was told she was fired on Monday morning, but she had to work thru the end of the week. Then she was told she has to sign a resignation letter or they will not issue her final paycheck (for time worked). She’s being forced to sign a letter that she resigns, even tho she was fired. What are her options? She needs the money, and they know it.

    • Nichole,

      No employer can withhold pay from an employee that has worked hours. She should not sign a letter stating she has resigned unless she agrees that she is leaving on her own will because it will affect her receiving unemployment benefits. She should talk to the HR department about what is being done and document all her conversations. If they still are trying to force her to sign a resignation, she should call the local Labor Department for assistance.

  36. i was fired about a week ago after I reported a serious accusation I heard about my boss, the hr department did an investigation and so did the police but they couldn’t find sufficient evidence proving it and pretty much told everyone I lied, now they refuse to give me a seperation notice and changed the hours that I did worked so my final check was close to nothing.. What can I do?

    • Anthony,

      It appears you are paying the price for making an accusation against someone that could not be proven. In your note, you say you heard the accusation instead of saying you were a witness to it. There’s a lesson here. When you accuse someone of something and it is not backed up, it hurts your credibility within the organization and it is rare that you can recover from it. It’s time to move on.

  37. I was was out sick for six days I got a doctors note to say that my return to work day is monday october 20th but my hr director called me on friday before october the 17th, She told me i was fired because I am not a good fit. She has just became my boss two months ago and I received a pay increase in May from my former boss. she got hired in August 2014. I never got a write up and received a raise just earlier from my former boss. How did i go from getting a raise to im not a fit in too months. Not to mention how do you fire an employee before their return to work date?

    • Christina, I will point out the obvious – your pay increase was from a different person so you can not infer that your current boss would have given you one. Having said that, not being a good fit is different than being a poor performer. If you are salaried and you were on sick leave being paid without being on short-term disability, they could let you go the way they did. That is not usually the way things are done, but technically you were an active employee.

  38. ‘All you want to do is to get as far away from this situation as possible and you are ready to sign anything just to get out of the room.’
    I am an aerospace technical writer, and if I may say, a very good one. An engineering company hired me as a technical proposal writer. There is a big difference. I was assured that our marketing team would support me as I moved into this new area of writing. I applied my skills to upgrade several procedures in our marketing group (alienating some of the proud!) and created a novel structure to catalogue a few thousand files that were lost in one directory. I wrote the outline for a new proposal. One day the manager called me into a neutral office. There was an HR person there, looking none too happy. It still didn’t dawn on me what this was about. He had a termination paper there and told me to sign it. The paper stated in part that ‘I did not have the qualifications for the position’. Mass was starting in ten minutes, they wanted me to leave immediately without picking anything up from my workstation (these items would be sent later), and ‘all I wanted to do was to get as far away as fast as possible from this situation.’ It’s OK. The fit wasn’t good and I did not receive the support promised. In retrospect I was concerned because of that statement that ‘I did not have the qualifications for the position.’ Of course this goes into an HR file and covers for the manager, but it also makes it seem as if i applied for the position under false pretenses. Long and short, I wish I had known of your statement, ‘Signature acknowledges receipt only.’ This is very good to know.

    • Daryl, Sorry to hear about your experience and thank you for sharing it. The reasons that HR state do not always reflect all the circumstances of a termination because to be honest, they don’t want to make up a lot of different reasons. The ones that they use are legally defensible (and are often coded into other online systems. When they start saying other things then they get in trouble with the company lawyers and create more work for their IT infrastructure. Qualifications for a job go beyond the technical requirements, they also speak to the cultural requirements.

  39. I do not have a question. I just wanted to thank you for providing this public service. You are a kind and generous person.

  40. I had been working at my new job for almost a month, then the other day just before clocking In, the manager has me go into an office with her. In there, she tells me that corporate told her I did not qualify for the job and so she has to let me go. She hands me my final check and said it breaks her heart to do this and that I will be getting a letter in the mail. I just find it weird. How could I not qualify yet I had been already working for a month, especially when the job involves operating a vehicle?

    • Eric, The only way to know why you were not qualified is to call and ask HR at corporate. Perhaps there was a certification or other requirement that needed to be on file. When you find out the reason why you may be able to correct it or at the very least you know what you need to get that type of job in the future.

  41. A friend of mine was over paid by $700 on her paycheck and was confused. She asked if it was a mistake the manager told her he will talk to her later about it. With confusion she came to the conclusion this was going to be her last paycheck. Is it legal to give her $ in her account then tell her she’s fired afterwards? Don’t we need a warning or a letter of termination?

    • Wendy,

      Every employer is different on how they handle terminations and not all require a warning or letter. If you have a bargaining unit or employer handbook at the organization, this is the first place to review what may be expected. As for getting her money early – someone may have been premature in providing payroll with the information.

  42. Thanks for the helpful article and I still have a question that I’m hoping you can help me with.

    I live in California and gave a 4 week notice of resignation to my employer because I had accepted a new opportunity elsewhere (a non-competitor). A few hours after I gave my notice, however, my employer decided terminate me and even removed my access to their files. Needless to say, I was not prepared for this sort of a reaction and had not heard of them doing this to others. I was a loyal employee that did not deserve to be treated in this manner. A few days later, when I went to collect my items, HR gave me several off boarding documents along with a ‘Departure Form.” This form had multiple checkboxes and the one they wanted me to check was “Voluntarily Quit” with the date that I gave my advanced notice written alongside of it. I personally didn’t agree with this because I was a committed, ready and willing to work the following 4 weeks so I said signing this as “voluntary” didn’t seem right to me and I need to speak to someone. HR agreed to not make me sign it right then and there and that she will check back. At the end of the week that I had resigned, I received a check for that week plus the weeks I had worked previously. However, they chose to not pay me for the weeks that I would’ve come to work. Not even the following two weeks. Now they are asking me to sign it as “voluntary” and send it back. Do I have to do this and agree to sign it as voluntary? I agree that I gave a resignation but the dates were imposed on me when in fact I was a ready and willing employee. I am considering filing for unemployment for the 4 weeks of missed paychecks until I start my new job again.

    • First of all, I am sorry the company treated you the way they did. I have had a similar experience even being in HR- it was brutal, hurtful and unnecessary the way they handled it. However, here is the situation. When you notify the company you are departing, they can and often do ask you to leave earlier especially if have access to sensitive materials – employee records, customer information, strategies…etc. When you tender your resignation, in their eyes, you are no longer a loyal employee tied to their mission.

      To answer your question, you do not have to sign the document and if you are planning to file for unemployment, then definitely DO NOT SIGN IT, especially with the date they have imposed on you. I do not know specifically about CA, but I would think you have a good case for winning unemployment. However, expect to have to fight for it because you company will deny it. Think about if your time is worth the stress and frustration to follow up for the money – it may take months to get it unless you get a break in the first ruling. One other option is to ask the company you are going to if you could start earlier and that would take care of some of your loss of income. Good luck.

      • I wanted to thank you so much for the articles, insights and above that, the time you take to answer each comment — often coming from those of us who are confused, hurt or frustrated. As for me, I am also upset to see that my years of employment and commitment came to a close in such an unfriendly and vindictive manner. I know all my colleagues were also surprised to learn about this once I had to give such an abrupt farewell notice. It helps to know that I am not obligated to sign a departure form that says something I don’t agree with. I will reply to the HR who reached out once I figure out what to say to her — or maybe not reply at all. Not that I want to do the latter, but I imagine she’s getting pressure from above. I have applied for unemployment and I researched online before I did so and it all pointed towards a strong chance of getting unemployment albeit I’m not sure how long it will take.

        Again, thank you so all your efforts Lynn, you’re a gem!

  43. Just the other night on Thursday January 8th 2015 I was verbally yelled and screamed at by one of my managers trying to force me to walk out. Her words were if you do not want to be here then just get up and walk the F out. I told her if there is a problem to go to her dad who is one owner or James who is the other owner. After she talked to them I was standing behind the counter she came back yelling screaming and cursing at me and I told her the same thing that she can go talk to the owners if there is a problem. She Then told me don’t worry once I talk to him you will be F’ing fired and my response was then do it now after that she said to me “you are F’ing fired and get the F out. Before all of this had happened I have no clue why I was fired or what I have done. I have been there for 8 years and never had one problem with any owner or manager they all loved me. I was wondering if there is anything I could do about this? Any help is appreciated thanks. Mike

    • Michael,

      Family businesses can be difficult and ties run deep. It is unlikely the Father or other owner will side with you over the daughter unless she was completely out of line and they are willing to deal with it.

      If this was a one time event with her, then it may be recoverable with a conversation with the owners. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding or something else was causing her stress and she took it out at work. However, if she is volatile often, you have to ask yourself if this is a place you really want to work for because I doubt it will get better without some intervention.

      • Thanks a lot for the reply. Yeah she is like this all of the time. over the past 6 months I couldn’t keep track on how many waitresses she has made walk out of the business because she is so rude and disrespectful to her employes.

  44. I was denied vacation time. I told them I was going to take it anyway. They said there will be penalties.
    A day before I left they told me I was terminated. I was not given any warning before, this was sudden. I need termination papers for insurance purposes.
    I was terminated in August 2014, I have not received the termination letter as of yet. The Union rep is not been supportive . I don’t know what is in the union contract. about procedures for termination.
    Why will they want to withhold the letter?
    What can I do?

    • Your union should be representing your interests with this employer and helping you to either get your job back or finalize your paperwork. If there was a grievance filed, then that is probably holding things up as both sides won’t do anything until that is settled.

  45. I received a call from my workers comp lawyer stating that the insurance company offered a settlement 1month and a half from scheduled meditation. I didn’t agree with the first or second amount offered. I asked how long did I have to decide and she said within the next few days. In this conversation she never mentioned that I had to resign from my employer to receive the settlement. OK I go to the law firm to sign the documents and my lawyer was not with me it was her assistant. She goes over the paperwork and I asked her would I still be able to get short term disability from my employer and she said yes it shouldn’t be a problem. After going over two more forms she pulls out the resignation paper and I was so confused. I did sign it though but when I researched it I found that it wasn’t expand to me correctly. Is it true that in pa. You have 7 days to revoke the agreement. My injury is right S1 radiculopathy due to L4-5, L5-S1disc herniation along with lumbar all strain and sprain and chronic pain syndrome and nerve damage in my right leg. I really feel that my lawyer doesn’t have my best interest at heart.

    • Kimberly,

      I do not know how long you have to revoke it, your attorney should have that answer. It is unfortunate that they did not explain all the implications of your settlement to you. When that occurs, you have every right to take a time out, even if you are at the office to sign off on your paperwork. If it was me, I would also have the paperwork clearly state that you have a right to continue receiving short term disability. Usually, when there is a settlement, it is made to resolve any outstanding claims and if there is continued support, it would be spelled out clearly. Good luck.

  46. Hi just want to share about my previous job,they terminate us just because the beach was closed where am i working,they talk to us that they cannot handle us anymore,so they also told us that we are free to look or find a new job,and they will not cancel our visa till we find job,but after a week tney told us to come to their office to sign our cancellation paper witch is when we sign that paper we will have a 6 months ban,we did not sign that paper because we also dont have a termination paper.we negotiate to them about this matter because they told us and they promised to as that we will not have a ban and we can work to the other company but now they are forcing us to sign that paper..2 weeks now im stress because of i need to sign that paper without any dues that we get and no termination paper? ..

    • Mary Antonette, I would suggest having someone from a legal background review your documents. If you can not afford an attorney, go to Legal Aid for assistance.

  47. Recently i was informed that the company i worked for had lost its contract, i was informed march 6th will be our last day.
    Is this company required to give me a separation notice. They have stated that they will not.
    And what are the ramifications if they do not give one.
    I have looked at georgia labor law and am a little unclear concerning this.

    • Les,

      To my knowledge there is no requirement by any state to provide a separation notice unless it falls under the WARN Act or that you have an agreement in force that requires it from the employer. I am not sure what concern you have about ramifications, you just move on.

  48. I worked for a big retail store for 2 yrs and 4 months. My attendance was perfect, I was trained in different depts. Around November I was transferred to café. I didn’t mind because I was just happy I was working. I was never properly trained or certified during my time in café. A new supervisor was hired around Thanksgiving. I did everything she asked me…everything was good so I thought. Feb.21st, I was terminated by the head security. He said that I was giving food free. I told him they were expired food and that my supervisor told me to put them in the break room for others employee to take. He also said I was giving soda cups and not charging them for soda. I told him they (cashiers) were asking for cups for water. That’s the only cups we ever gave anyone. He showed me receipts from last year that I did something wrong. Mind you I was a cashier full time last year. I was doing >1000 transactions a week. I can not remember any of those receipts. I was never given a verbal or written warning ever. I applied for unemployment and been approved. Im thinking of hiring a lawyer. Do you think I have a case.

    • Rosa,
      The best person to tell you if you have a case is an attorney. The bigger question is – Would they take it? Unless there are significant damages for which they would get a cut, you would spend way more money having them represent you than you will ever collect from them. If you are looking to clear your name, consider if it is worth it. You can get explain this incident away in any interview with the right wording. Personally, that’s where I would spend the money getting help on how to move forward…not with the attorney.

  49. I just got fired from my job because my supervisor put me in a new position and the position requires for safety glass but I wear prescription glasses. They spary glue every and I didn’t want to work at that position because of my glasses I told him if they had something better than the safety glasses he said no and I should go to the break room because he wanted to talk. I got goggles at the end when he came in and told me that I was terminated. Should I write a letter to houman resources?

  50. I have worked for the last 9 years in the medical field. . I have had no issues while working and have received a number of promotions over supervisor reviews over the years. About a week ago, I was called at home after work by my supervisor and told that I had been found to not be completing my paperwork properly and this had affected billing for services. I was basically suspended from work while this was investigated. There have been some changes to the way are paperwork is done since we have started a new electronic billing system. I was called in two days ago to meet with both my supervisor and HR. I was basically told that while they were still investigating, “It Wasn’t Looking Good.” and I would probably have the option to either resign or be fired. I am going back in tomorrow to find out what they have to say. While I don’t feel the new process was properly explained to me, it doesn’t seem like I have many options. I can’t go long without a paycheck, so I am leaning toward them firing me as I want to have the best chance to get unemployment while looking for a job? Is This the right idea in this situation? Thank You –I live In NYS

    • Mike, The likelihood that you will qualify for unemployment by quitting is very low. If they fire you, you will have an uphill battle with unemployment because the termination will likely be “for cause”. That battle with the state will take months (suggest reading: 11 Things to do or expect when contesting your unemployment). It is highly unlikely that you can negotiate a separation by mutual agreement because they are giving you the option to quit (which alleviates them paying UE). There’s no clear call, just the path you want to take and overcome.

  51. I worked for a school district for 25 years and was just told my job was being eliminated. There were 2 positions in the last month that I would have been totally capable of sliding into. However, they terminated my position after these positions were filled. The superintendent and I have worked together for almost all of the 25 years, and there may be something vindictive about this, as we have a couple things in the past that have been addressed. We did however, have a very good working relationship;. Also, the reason I was told, and one person of the school board was told, was simply the position was terminated. I asked in the meeting “why? did I do something or what?” Again simply stated the position was eliminated. due to financial limitations to hire an HR director. Here is the big thing. I was told and within 20 minutes was escorted out with all my things in boxes It was very humiliating walking out in front of all of my co-workers like I did something wrong. It was horrible. Is there anything at all I can do to appeal this? They invested alot of money, even this past year, on training me for specific duties,l which made up for 1/2 of my job. Would this be wrongful termination? They also have placed others in the district in other positions after “eliminating” the positions. Please help before I hire an attorney, only to be embarrassed thanks you.

    • Mert,

      Here’s my take based on what you said. Organizations do eliminate positions and for the people in them, it feels personal. The organization has targeted the job, not you, even though you are in the job. Regarding the new positions, if they were open at the time you were informed, then you could have asked to be considered. If the timing was off, then it was really up to you to apply to the job – even if you did not know you were going to be laid off. Organizations are not required to (and will not) give you advance notice unless there are significant layoffs and it falls under the WARN Act.

      I am sorry you had the “escorted out” approach to leaving – organizations just don’t get it that people have feelings and connections with the people they work with. It is just as difficult for the people staying to see it and not be able to say goodbye properly. I bet an attorney advised them on the legal implications vs. someone with compassion.

      The fact your employer spent money upgrading your skills is a bonus to you — now you have something that you can use to your advantage when you apply to new organizations. It is unlikely that an employment attorney will take this case, I would suggest moving forward with more positive things in life.

  52. I was written up for disrespecting authority last year and received my suspension a couple of month’s ago. I received a day’s suspension and HR warned that the next time an offense occurs, it could lead to my termination. About 2.5 weeks ago HR called to get my side of an incident at work. I was asked not to report to work until the investigation was completed. I have missed 2 weeks (going on 3 weeks) of work. There has been NO communication from HR. How long do I wait before contacting them. My supervisor doesn’t even know what is happening with HR.
    I have started putting applications in for a new job, but wonder what to do about this current job. I have a lot of accrued time off, this can’t be taken away, can it? I just don’t know what to do.
    Thank you for your advice.

      • They can’t just terminate me without me knowing, right? I work for a large company and have WEEKS of PTO to collect.
        I am afraid to call, maybe they are hoping I leave on my own????

  53. In February I settled my worker’s compensation claim in court. The lawyer I had didn’t inform me that the employer’s insurance company wanted me to resign until three days before I had to appear in court. I was very upset. I didn’t get out of order or anything I just said to the judge that this wasn’t fair. I asked my lawyer for the original letter thhat I signed because I needed it to obtain insurance under my husbands carrier. They email me a letter that looks like my 11yr old put it together and it had someone else’s name on it. They scratched the person’s name out with a colored pencil and the name could clearly be read when I told tthe lawyer she said that was the original letter I signed. They were unprofessional since the very beginning. Can I take them to court about this fraudulent letter.

    • Kimberly,

      The question to ask yourself is: Do you want to pay another attorney to get a letter correct? What do you want to get out of suing them? If the letter is not a copy of your original go down to their offices and ask them to get it out of your file and make a copy of the right one. You might have to become a pest and call every day, eventually they will comply.

      • Thanks for responding. They emailed me my file it was 10 pages and I called my former employer first to request a verification letter stating that Im no longer an employee and h.r. told me that according to their system Im still employed with them so they wouldn’t send me a letter. I have called and personally talked to my lawyers team and they insist that the letter is the original and that I should white out the name. This letter was presented in court and I had to sign it to receive my settlement. They wont even put a letterhead on the letter this just doesn’t seem right to me. Thanks again!

  54. I was let go cause they had no more light duty. Since i was injuryed at work the director just got mad cause when they treated me bad i would email or call the main office well directors did not like that cause they would get in trouble. So now this company is making up how they let me go and now i was not approved for unemployment have no income right now i am still looking for work but cant do housekeeping in hospital or maid work cause of my injury looking for other work. But untill that happens i still have bills to pay s o i need help. Thanks

    • Kim, Even though you may not receive unemployment, use the unemployment services for finding a job. They will be able to help you figure out what kind of job you may be able to do with your light duty status. Good luck.

  55. Kim marshall

    Did you file for worker’s comp and what about unemployment ? I had the same situation

  56. The company I worked for terminated my service my redundancy money nor salary has not been paid to me

    • Jodyann, It is time to contact your HR department to see what is holding payment up. There are different requirements depending on what state you live in regarding how quickly you have to be paid – and often that is tied to when your normal pay period is for receiving your salary.

  57. I’ve been with a large known company for 3 years, its been a nightmare. I’ve had many issues with the company as far as pay, discrimination, racism, etc. I’ve gone to HR, nothing has every been done, things are just always swept under the table. Well recently they called me in to Loss Prevention and said they were doing an investigation on me, and I am suspended. It’s been two weeks, with little communication, and with me always reaching out to them. Their HR representatives want me to drive all over out of my way, because there is no official HR representative in my store. I do not have transportation and told them this, so for them to want me to go somewhere far out of my way to meet with them is not constantly is not feasible. The resolution of my investigation has been pushed back four times now (we will let you know friday, then monday, then wed, etc…) Well i recently discovered that my corporate email, has been deleted, and they are already telling employees that I no longer work there without officially telling me. I know that I am fired, they went thru 3 years of surveillance tape and documented any time, i had a slightly longer break/lunch. I have seen these witch hunts in this company before, if they don’t like you they will find a reason to be rid of you. I am now over 2 weeks without pay, I can’t keep up with my bills, and they say i cannot collect money from suspension, or unemployment if I am fired. I just received a call from HR today, and wants me to drive to a far location to meet him. I’m assuming it’s to be terminated. I’ve asked him for details, and he won’t tell me anything. I even said is it possible to just send me paperwork (fax/mail) but he insists i have to go in. My questions is this, if i’m already fired do I have to go in just to sign the paperwork? I’d rather just be done with all this stress, not to mention its incredibly inconvienet to have to go meet them at a far away location. Any advice? Thanks!

    • Josh, From what you have said, it appears that they will be terminating you. As for how they do it, you can tell them you will meet them at your regular work place or they can send the information to you via mail. When they ask if you can come to their offices just say “no”.

      I would recommend you get the paperwork if you want to see what they are letting you go for – it is helpful for unemployment and fighting any case you may have against you. Be prepared to handle the conversation about signing anything – reread this article if you are not clear. Refer to some of the articles about unemployment in this blog. Do your homework. If they do not comply with meeting you or sending the information, then go to unemployment and explain the situation.

  58. Hi i just got my work evaluation after 19 month’s been promised since 3 months after started my job till now with just 10 cents raise. Before 2 months I’m supposed to have special permission for being absence for 2 months. I left the place told them it was insulted and can accept. Some other employees has raised about 1dll before. What can I do.

    • Rosalinda,

      I do not know your employer’s compensation structure so you may want to learn about what kinds of questions you can ask. I have written a number of articles on salary or compensation (just use the search box) or here’s a good place to start:
      Think Your Salary is Too Low? Learn how to assess it. Part 1

      Another possibility – your employer is telling you by way of your small increase that your work performance needs to improve.

  59. Hello Lyn.
    Thank you for your advise to all the other readers. I hope you can help me.
    After 15 years of service, I was permanently laid off from my job 2 days ago without any prior notification. I was in total shock. I was told that my position was eliminated due to budget cuts.

    I was presented with a “letter agreement and release” to sign. It’s a 12 page document full of legal “boiler plate” conditions, as was told to me by the director of HR. In order for me to receive 15 weeks of SUB-pay (Supplemental Unemployment Plan) I have to sign this agreement. I really need this money.

    One particular paragraph has me concerned. It says:
    I agree to assist & cooperate with the Company to a reasonable extent in connection with any investigation, proceeding, dispute or claim that may be made against, by or with respect to the Company, or in connection with any ongoing or future investigation, proceeding, dispute or claim of any kind involving the Company, including any proceeding before any arbitral, administrative, regulatory, self-regulatory, judicial, legislative, or other body or agency, (including, but not limited to, making yourself available upon reasonable notice for factual interviews, preparation for testimony, providing affidavits, and similar activities) to the extent such claims, investigations or proceedings relate to to your employment with the Company, services performed or required by you or pertinent knowledge possessed by you. Your failure to cooperate with the Company as outlined in this Paragraph shall constitute a material breach of the Agreement.”

    My questions to you are:
    1. Can I have this stricken from my “agreement?”
    2. If not, can I put a time limit on this? It says “with any ongoing or FUTURE..” I’d like to be done with this company and not have to worry about being called upon for some future investigation,
    proceeding, etc.
    3. Can I be compensated for my time if the Company does call me for any of the situations described in the “Cooperation” clause?

    There are many other paragraphs in this document that I don’t totally agree with but am willing to sign because I do need the 15 weeks of SUB-pay. I actually feel like the Company is holding these funds hostage until I sign this agreement. I did not receive any other severance package and my healthcare benefits were terminated immediately. I did not have this document reviewed by an attorney. Now that I am unemployed, and my husband is on social security, we just don’t have the money for that.

    Thank you so much for your quick response.

    Barbara L.

    • Barbara,

      I would recommend you consider working with an attorney or someone else to determine the risks to you for signing the document and moving forward if you have an issue with signing the document. Most of this is boiler plate – sometimes that boiler plate is more important than other times. For example, depending on what your job was with the company, this paragraph could mean nothing or a lot. It is just one consideration in a list of many variables to be discussed and thought through. This is why I do not provide specific advice on the column because knowing the context can completely change the strategy for doing something or letting it go.

      When you say you don’t have the money to do something – I get it. What I also get is that sometimes you have to spend money to get something that you want (the pay from the company) or if there is something you want to avoid (continued contact with the company), especially if want everything to be buttoned up.

      You can go back to the company and ask them to strike some a paragraph, however, remember the company is looking for something in exchange for making a payment to you if in fact this is not a part of a company severance plan outlined in their employee benefits.

      Good luck!

  60. I worked at a privately owned prison, CCA in Georgia to be exact. I was put on administrative leave pending investigation into a possible violation of code of conduct. The captain tried to say I was sitting too close to an inmate, and this was after we had an argument. I had been complaining about harassment for the past year and I had to file a grievance about 6 months ago for them to take me serious, even though they said my grievance was non-grievable. Well, after all that, I would make a complaint and they weren’t taking me serious anymore. After the situation of me getting into it with the Captain, I filed another grievance. The very next day I was put on administrative leave. I wrote my statements on the day in question, along with my witnesses names in my statement. The officer that was in the department where I worked wrote a statement also, saying the Captain got loud with me first, provoking me to get loud. I was on admin leave for almost a month, when they called me in and said I was being terminated for insubordination, although none of my witnesses were questioned and I never got to voice my side except for in my statement. I also have never had a write up in the 4 years I worked there and my work performances were always good. I never heard anything about the grievance either, even though I was supposed to hear a reply back about it within 7 days per policy. I feel as though I was terminated because I filed a grievance and I was retaliated against for doing the grievance. My case was not fully investigated either or my witnesses would have had a chance to tell them about the harassment and they’d realize I wasn’t just complaining, that I was making truthful accusations. They tried to say I was sitting too close to an inmate, but when the camera footage proved that was a lie, they tried to say I was being insubordinate. None of it makes sense and many policies were violated in my case. They had me electronically sign a paper, that of which I didn’t get to read, the Assistant Warden read it to me, and stated what I was signing was basically just saying I was terminated, not that I agreed or disagreed with the decision, yet i never got a copy, even after requesting it. And a week and a half later I have not received a termination letter. What would you suggest I do from here? I filed an appeal to reinstate my position, but am awaiting that also….

  61. Hello I’m trying to figure out what I should do.. I was terminated yesterday because they said that I was having the manager sign me in at wrong times that I wasn’t working which was not true. I never been in a situation like this before so I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t agree with the situation at all because it wasn’t true but they told me to sign and I did. I didn’t know if I should t sign it or not I just wanted to get out of there. I wasnt happy at that job anymore anyway. Ive worked there for just a bit less then 4 years. does this hurt my chances of not receiving unemployment

  62. I was recently terminated and I signed a mutually agreed separation agreement that provided me severance and prevents me from suing my employer. When applying for new jobs, some employer’s questionnaire ask if ever terminated, since it was mutual can I state no?

  63. Hi Lynn,
    This company is the 3rd company that took over this county contracted program that has been in our town since 2007. First company went out of business in 2013 and 2nd company lost contract to this company this year. Been servicing this program since 2009. I have applied all three companies to maintain my employment and I truly had a passion for this job. Therefore, I am the longest member and in my position, there are 5 of us and out of all them I am the only one with a degree. Here’s my take, I have been reporting to management about issues concerning clients care were not met, company’s petty cash were taken out of context, employees mistreating my disability i.e. unplugging and moving my caption phone, (I’m hearing impaired), issues with the same level employee scheduling everyone’s schedule was not being fair with scheduling and kept cutting my hours and she’s not management, being bossy/micromanaging was a big factor, favoritisms managers-employees, employees causing slander, gossiping about me in front of clients whom reported to me, clients being mistreated, scolded, mocked, shun away, from licensed nurses whom did not care to help them out, neglecting clients’ needs, lying to clients about certain services that were not provided when they needed, harassment, emotional distress they have caused me all this time when I would verbally check in with my supervisor and the new HR Trainee, they both told me to ride it out/give it some times staffs will come around, because they was giving me the cold shoulders, silent treatment, hinder my ability to retrieve client’s information so that I can assist them, being rude, talking down to clients and me, not treating them with respects and dignity especially when it is a 24/7 crisis center that is there for everyone who is having a crisis, etc… Things were building up so bad, I was emotionally drained and still nothing was being done. The main boss never approach me when he knew everything that was going on and since I worked evening shift FT, I never got a chance to see him to address these same issues. He placed me on suspension for about 3 days that turned into 5 days, given those are my working days, to give him time to think about the issues that was reported to him from another employee that my husband had went in and let her know that she needs to stop disrespecting me, bullying me, causing me problems, talking to me rudely. That morning I was called in earlier to relieve another employer and to use my car in case I have to bring a client back home from hospital which is about an hour and a half away. I did not know the issues until I got home for lunch and my husband informed me of what he had done. LPT made a complaint that he was threatening her and yelling at her which it is not true according to 1/3 staffs stated my husband did not yell at her. He was speaking her about the way she treated me and left. Meanwhile, HR contacted me 2 days in the row asking for my side on what I know and stated situation is being investigated and postponed meeting until 2 days more. I came in, boss is not present as I was told he would. HR Trainee, Sr. HR Manager of the company corporate office, and manager (Program Director) were present. HR Trainee starts off right away stating that it has comes to their decision to discuss 2 parts of this meeting, one, complaint against my husband was out of my control & 2, my work performances evaluation reviewed by my manager (Prog. Dir.) whom I verbally told her everything that had went wrong with staffing abusing the companies policies and procedures when it came to clients care. I started to get really emotional about this whole agenda because they thought it would be best if they let me go and that I would agree to it due to lack of communication issues with employees but my performances for the clients were great, work ethics were on point with companies charting, documenting just not working out with most of the employees who having a hard time working with me. Those same employees are their favorites and their puppets is what I called. They kept people who broke the rules and there were few of us who were actually doing our job. They had 4 employees quitting within 3 months already and they just opened. I was devastated due to my passion working for clients in our community who really needs this services because it is limited in this town. Therefore, I did not sign anything, I was served with a 9-pages separation agreement that I just read yesterday and am struggling to sign it. Mind you, they mailed me my final check and gas mileage checks the very next day as my last day, 10/09/2015, I feel as if either way I do or don’t sign it, it is still leaves me no good feeling. I feel threatened and that they are truly bribing me to sign something that pretty much everything I had witnessed wrong and went through never happened. If I agree to the terms, they give me one lump sum of 1 month pay and 1 month of cobra health benefits, no contesting to EDD about my unemployment, This company is new to the area and only opened about 4 months now. Sr. HR tells me that if I still want to pursue a further investigation, that I can file a former complaints to any issues there with anything or anyone. That he would personally write a reference employment letter to where ever I may work and that they have faith in me finding new work elsewhere. I left with that being said and did not sign anything. Today, I am seeking legal aid for a second opinion. Do you have any other suggestions or tips on how I should go about this?

  64. I was working for a oilfield company in Texas. The company I currently worked for ,there was a supervisor ,spreading rumors about my wife. It cause problems with my relationship . I also reported it to the owners and they did nothing. What can I do? I have them recorded. Besides they did not give me my last pay check enless I sighn the write up. It’s called blackmail,slander and wrong full termination. Can I sue for damages?

    • Charles,

      If they are withholding your check outside their legal obligation to pay you, report them to the local labor department. As for the slander and wrongful termination, consult an attorney. My hunch – it will not be worth the battle – use the time to go find a company that will appreciate you.

  65. Good Info I got fired yesterday and I began to sign my name but didn’t finish signing it and I stop and read the top part of that page and it was only a blank lanes to write a statement so I told the manager I’m not signing this and I ripped the part where I had begun to sign it was only three letters of my namethe reason why I did that was because I don’t know later on they were going to write a statement on top of my name and plus she never gave me any paperwork to read just talk to me about my separation until May had a violated three policies which they were calling mall securitythe second one was going after a woman who stole
    Merchandise, and the third one was supposedly because I had an associate work off the clock which is not true I told associate I was going to have a manager put in her two hours.this is what she was telling me verbally but I never read this in any paperwork she wouldn’t let me read it she didn’t handle it to me she kept paperwork to herself

  66. I am quiting my job due to unethical practices by the owner. What he is doing could land him in jail. I don’t want to blackmail him but I also want unemployment till I find another job. I have a family and need income but I can’t tarnish my good name/resume and get in possible trouble myself. Can I have him sign a paper that I am quiting due to unethical practices and my unemployment will not be challenged?

    • Kaysy, If someone came to you and asked you to sign a document saying you were unethical, would you sign it? I highly doubt your employer will do it.

  67. Hi, I was terminated today from my low management position. I felt like I got ambushed during my termination by my manager, her boss, and the human resource lady.
    Little info about my previous job, it is a restaurant employed by a company that has been on the news quite recent. We have been understaffed for 1.5 years, and I had to be in several positions on daily basis (manager-2% of the time/trainer-5% of the time/cashier-10%/prep-3%/front line-17%/cook-45%/sushi-5%/help other locations-15%)- I have addressed this issue with my former employer, their response: “we are trying”. Anyway, on my termination letter my manager said that I am being terminated for violating rules & poor performance. They were as follow:
    1. performing work after punching out (not true my manager made me punch out after she realized that I was still working. I was working over my scheduled hours and she said that she would let this one slide but obviously did not)
    2. falsifying logs (again, not true another employee has the same initials as me. When I told them, they just looked at me like I was lying & I told them to compare it, clearly not mine- they seemed quite not interested)
    3. repeated late submission of invoices ( I clearly stated that I did not have a chance to put them in & she said that she will, whatever she did not complete I completed later that day after she told me to do so because she claimed she did not see them & they were in the same folder as the other invoices that she did enter in. I would only assume she is covering for herself for messing up)
    4. improper inventory (only because we got busy and did not expect to run out which then I was made aware by my coworker and, I quickly fixed it by borrowing from another nearby store & still considered it my fault even though she has completely messed up on orders more than once for other locations & constantly runs out of product every week- but no still my fault for this one time incident)
    5. lastly, unacceptable Audit conducted for my store (for scoring a 79% because I was missing onions in my rice recipe & 1 out of 3 employees did not know how to wash hands because she was new & she just started work the minute it was happening did not get a chance to teach).
    Also her ending conclusion to this was that I was failing to listen to my managers to improve my communication and that my communication never improved even though I was clearly communicating with her on a daily basis as to what my staff was not completing and what action I was going to take and advice of how to approach situations, and informing her of everything that I did not complete which was the invoice situation. Mind you, all this occurred of within few days of opening back from break and we were getting back into the swing of things. I want to know will I be able to get some or even on of these claims off of the termination letter seeing that I can prove one item out the many she accused as being false? The others are more of hearsay, I know it will be hard. They told me that there will be a severance letter, can I get it on that? Also, what to do if they refuse negotiation? How can I still make it work in my favor? I do not want to get screwed over, my manager made a good job at doing so. Any advice will do.
    Thank you in advance.

    • Lily,

      If you are getting a severance letter then you are probably receiving some form of payment. In that case, the company doesn’t deem your situation to be “for cause”. Personally, I would leave it alone and move on. It is highly unlikely that you will get them to admit they were wrong. Good luck!

  68. Looking for a couple words of advise on whether pursuit is worthy, I was terminated from a large retail company recently. In the termination letter it referenced 3 separate violations, two out of three are very common in all of their other locations, this I could prove as well. The third violation accused me of doing something I did not do nor do they have the documentation to back it because in one of the said dates I did not even know how to do what I was terminated for the other instance was approved by two people. I had emailed the HR department and was not so quickly directed to legal until I pushed back and refused a verbal conversation. In addition I did not sign the term paperwork they called me and asked if I wanted them to read it over the phone which I declined and thats when I found what was written was inaccurate and much of it was never even brought up to me. Lastly they approached a subject in which had nothing to do with anything and said “while we’re waiting, this is off the record” and asked about another topic which had nothing to do with any of the other issues. I cannot afford a long legal battle but I feel based alone on the fact that my termination paper was not even correct and they dropped their follow up requests(one of their legal counsels) that I may have something here. In addition if it makes a difference I am in Massachusetts

    • If you want to fight it, you will have to pay an attorney to do it unless you want to talk with the company. Unless an attorney believes there is a big pay off, they will not take it on contingency. Most companies have an appeal process, perhaps that is a good cost effective first step. Without reviewing the termination paperwork says or the circumstances around it, I am not in a position to advise you any further. That type of consultation would fall into my paid services. Good luck!

  69. Is it possible to terminate an employee even before that she’d render a resignation letter already?

    I rendered a resignation letter to my employer, had already discuss it verbally and we agreed to render 30 days. But 2 days after rendering my resignation letter the employer terminate me. I was confused. What’s my stand.

    • Shelia,
      Yes, it is possible for your employer to let you go even though you have provided a resignation letter with an extended date for leaving. Employers sometimes cut short two week notices to immediately dismissal because they do not want to have the employee around…often for good reason. If you have contact with sensitive data, have contact with customers or are going to a competitor, your employer would rather see you go sooner than later. There is nothing illegal about it. You said you were leaving and offered to stay longer, they declined.

  70. Lynn.
    I was let go Thursday out of the clear blue. No notice-I thought everything was going great. I had been with the company 4 months. Anyway, I negotiated a severance on the spot( as I was in shock) and yesterday returned it signed( panic) anyway as I was rereading it I thought it was not accurate in terms of the payment dates. I replied to HR and stated that I felt the agreement was inaccurate and asked or a new one to be sent. Do I have any rights since I signed the original? Is there a 3 day window to protect me in making a bad decision by signing the original?

    Also, I ma 59 and though I don’t feel I was discriminated against, the reality is I am in a bad situation in finding a good job based on my age an income.

    Any advice

    • Mike,

      Two thing affect your specific termination. Since you are forty (40) years or older, you are is protected by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) of the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (“OWBPA”). If your separation agreement includes a release of ADEA claims your ex-employer must provide you with twenty-one (21) days to review and consider the proposed severance agreement. The clock does not start ticking until the date of the ex-employer’s final offer. Once you signed the document, you waive this time period.

      You also have a seven (7) Day Revocation Period if the severance agreement contains an ADEA release of claims. By law, the employer must provide you with seven (7) days to revoke the agreement after signing it. This seven (7) day window cannot be waived or changed by either party. Note: This does not mean you have the right to re-open negotiations.

      Most likely your HR department will make adjustments to the separation agreement if their is some inconsistency with the language and intent.

  71. If you sign a severance package do you automatically revoke if you send an email requesting more money or your job back? When I signed the document I was shocked and under mental duress and could not comprehend the contract, as I was so upset, that I just signed it, but was told I was terminated for workforce reduction. However I was the only one let go from the company. Now it’s almost 7 days and I have requested that document to say workforce reduction as it never said that on the severance package. It only says amicable separation in exchange and promise not to seek legal suit against the company. And no EEOC claims filed against the company.

    • Sara,

      The time to ask for more money or to be considered for another position was before you sign the separation agreement. The company has no obligation and it is unlikely they will offer you additional compensation.

      There is little difference between workforce reduction or reduction-in-force and mutual separation when it comes to getting a new job. The fact that it says it was amicable is favorable and more than likely you would be eligible for rehire. You may want to think about how you can maintain that good relationship just in case another position comes available.

    • I understand they don’t have to negotiate once you sign, but do do you revoke automatically if you request more money or your job back as there were discrimination issues and retaliation. The only reason given verbally was workforce reduction, not what was written on the severance package.

      • Sara, Read your agreement, it says what you can and can not do. Once you signed the agreement, you entered into a binding contract and there is no reason to go back and ask for more money. If it states you can not seek legal action, then why bring up discrimination and retaliation issues? Going to the company with those accusations WILL NOT get your job back. Move on…find a place that appreciates you.

  72. I recently contacted a previous employer who I stopped working for in mid 2015 about unpaid drivetime and mileage reimbursement. (I would travel to different locations on weekends and per their policy Saturdays were not reimbursed, I just so happened to travel on Saturdays per their request) I contacted their HR Dept who are demanding I sign an acknowledgement letter in order for them to pay me otherwise they wont pay me… is that considered withholding my pay? I don’t think I should sign anything because I am not receiving a settlement, instead I am being paid what I am owed.

    • Jacob,
      Reimbursements are not wages. I am not sure why you would oppose signing off receipt of your expense check. It is not the same as signing off on a separation agreement (be sure to read the document). Go get your money!

  73. I have been suspended pending investigation. While the investigation was going on, they paid me a week earlier then my normal pay period. Does this mean that they are going to fire me anyway despite the fact that they were reviewing the evidence I provided for the investigation when this happened?

    • Getting paid early does not signal you are getting fired. Perhaps you will be fired, but I would say receiving your pay early was an error on their part or if you are paid less frequently than weekly, they had to pay you for the time worked since you were suspended. Good luck.

  74. I worked with my previous company for 1.5 years as a remote employee; no issues, satisfactory reviews. I requested and received information from HR regarding FMLA to have time to care for my mother. On the forms it was noted by hand from HR that I was eligible for FMLA. I had the forms completed by my mother’s physician, submitted the completed forms back to HR and manager by the deadline. Five days later I receive a phone call from HR and my manager’s boss that my position has been eliminated, I am no longer an employee with the company as of that day. 1) can they revoke FMLA eligibility? 2) If I submit the unemployment forms to receive unemployment am I by default agreeing to the terms on the separation agreement? I do not want to sign the separation agreement because I would like to seek counsel, but I want to file/receive unemployment.

    • If you want to seek counsel, do it before signing any agreement so you know what you are signing and how it affects unemployment. Without looking at your agreement and understanding all the information around your termination, no one can advise you properly.

  75. Recently i havr been going through some really hard times and when i statrd to my boss i need tk switch my shift with a coworker or just take the day off because i was in no shape emotionally or physically to be at worj. I was told no i was not allowrd to had tk suck it up and be at work or just not let it affect me whi h wasnt possible. Now they are trying to get md to admit i abandoned my job because they dknt wNt me to get unemployment benefits which i did not. I had signed a document a few mobths prior thT said if k was even going fo be a minute late not tl come to work i was fired. I cannot get my paycheck eitherr until i return my store key and uniforn which is fine and i am about to do that right now. But i need to know can they. Make me sign a document stating i quit or abandobed my job before they give me my check. And if i refuse can they really not give it to me?

    • You do not have to sign any document. Simply return your badge and uniform and get your check. Do not let them bully you. As for if you abandoned your job, let the unemployment office know what happened and see what they determine.

  76. Thanks for the info. I was justaid off over the phone today and my employer wants me to come in on Monday to fill out my separation paper work. I’m an hourly employe in a union shop with no language in the contract about lay offs. Should I clock in to fill out the paper work? Does the company have to pay me if they told me to come in?

    • John,

      It is best to ask your union representative what to do since every contract is different. The paperwork should only take a few minutes.


  77. I have a short simple advisement.

    We have advised you that your last date of employment with ABC company is April 15, 2016. You have agreed to the separation terms as discussed with our GM Slick Sanders. If you do not sign this agreement you will not be entitled to the one week severance pay minus any cost you owe ABC company.

    The terms consisted of a statement of “We need to make some changes so this arrangement is not going to work anymore” I never received these terms I’m writing so I assumed they were just down sizing. I asked the GM at least two times asking him what was the deal? Begged for him to give me something and he said nothing.

    I went to apply for Unemployment and they told me I was terminated for misconduct and I was denied all of my benefits. No ware on the signed Separation notice does it state termination, or any reasons for the release. based off this short simple separation form didn’t they have to state the reasons for terminating me on the form I signed?

    This little company is shady and I’m glad I gone but to deny my benefits was low down and I even told the GM I would go ahead and submit my unemployment and he shook his head and said ok good go ahead. I wish you luck on your next job hunt.

    Two days later they brought a new guy in that they are paying a whole lot less…

    What’s your thoughts?

  78. I have a State job and am being accused of Falsifying a Dr’s note about my heart condition, I have to meet with HR from an investigation they did to determine whether I’ll be fired. What are my rights if I don’t have proof but I know I DID NOT falsify anything but it’s their word against mine.

  79. I was filling up the work truck with fuel at the fuel stop. On my way out I hit a concrete pillar with the front of the truck. It’s the company’s liability for damages not mine but the company wants me to sign a waiver for him to be over to take money out of my paycheck, all but minimum wage. I told my employer that It’s not my responsibility to pay for the damages to the truck and I won’t be signing. So he told me if I don’t sign I’m fired. My question is.. is he allowed to do that?

    • Paul,

      The company should have a policy about accidents and how they are handled with their insurance. This is a good recap: If your employer is firing you because of your unwillingness to repay through your paycheck, they would have a difficult time having it stick as a termination for cause. However, they could at anytime let you go for carelessness or for safety concerns. The best approach is to figure out why they want to take out the money and why their insurance is not picking up the bill – my guess is it was not reported because premium increases would have been more than paying for the damage outright. If that is the case, it is the employer’s decision not to file a claim, not yours.

      • The boss fire me yesterday. He wanted me to sign a “voluntary payroll deduction form which brought me back down to minimum wage. I refused so he fired me and he also deducted the money and gave me my paycheck after the deductions. I’m not sure if he can do this or not but if he can I’ll just be an my way to find another job, but if he can’t I would like to get my full paycheck back from him. I haven’t cashed the check yet. I’m waiting for the proper decision first. So the new question is can he take out the money from my paycheck whether I sign his form or not?

  80. Are companies allowed to withhold your severance pay and contract of employment?

    • Amanda, I am not clear about your question. Companies are not required to provide severance pay, those that do provide it do it under certain circumstances.

  81. My husband works as an independent contractor (truck driver) and has a work agreement with a company in Oklahoma. In the agreement it says either party can terminate by providing written notice 10 days in advance. He has given verbal and written notice so that he can transfer to another company within the same group. Now the manager of the company is saying he won’t release the information needed for the transfer unless my husband agrees to work for him this week, is that legal? Also in the past we’ve had issues with this company paying out what was owed. How long after the termination of the work agreement does the company have to pay what they owe to my husband for work already done? Thanks for any help you can provide.

    • Lindsey, If your husband is still working with his first employer, they may not release the information until he leaves. As for when he should receive his last paycheck, that all depends on the state you live in. You can probably research it on your state unemployment website.

  82. I was terminated last October from my job. My former employer didn’t provide me with a termination or separation letter. Since then, I moved to another state and I applied for Medicaid for my 4-year old. After submitting the application, Medicaid is requesting for me to submit a separation letter from my last job. By law, is it mandatory for the employer to provide some sort of documentation proving that you no longer work for them? how can I go back to request that letter after I left in a really bad term with them?

    • JJ – No, it is not required by law unless the state requires it. Tell Medicaid you were not given a letter. If they ask you to get one, then you will have to contact the company to see if they will provide it.

  83. I was terminated from my job I picked up my last paycheck and asked about you he exit review the store manager told me it was already sent to the office I never signed it and have no idea what it said for the reason. Was that legal in NY

    • Daniel,

      Employers can do exit paperwork without your signature. Generally, it is an internal document where they comment on your work performance, why you left and if you are eligible for rehire. This paperwork does not require an employee signature.

  84. Hi! Great article and I hope to put it to use.

    Question : Will the ‘signature acknowledges receipt only’ bind me to anything in the paperwork? I’m in the beginning process of filing to have my contractor status evaluated because I’m 99% certain I’m misclassified and I’m an employee. My boss has been refusing to pay me until I sign the exit paperwork that says among other things, that I’m an independent contractor. It’s been over a month. I keep telling her I’ll sign it when I get my paycheck.

    (Whole bunch of messed up stuff going on and it’s bad. Her entire company runs on independent contractors, even the key people like I was. She routinely tells us to do things and then won’t pay us for them or tells us we took too long, or that she’s changed the way she wants us to invoice our hours… Just the tip of that iceberg.)

    This is CA if it makes a difference, and in the paperwork I signed initially a year and a half ago I found a clause saying I agreed to sign the exit paperwork. She’s acknowledged that it isn’t required by CA law, but she keeps saying it is company policy and won’t pay me. I’m in Virginia or I’d have filed for all this already.


    • C. Marie,

      First of all, if you are a IC, then you would have a contract or agreement that states what work is to be performed, by when and how payment is made. Hopefully, in your agreement you have stated how late payments are handled – ie. added interest or late payment fees. If not, then re-evaluate how you are compensated as a IC. On to the next question, the employer is trying to document that you have acknowledged you are an IC with the separation paperwork to protect them from any back pay they may owe you. IF you sign that you acknowledge receipt, I doubt that will satisfy them since they want you to absolve them of any wrong-doing. So, the bigger question is Why would you want to work for someone like this?

  85. I was called and fired over the phone on my day off, now my employer is saying they do not offer a letter of termination or seperation, but i actually need one to show my case worker where i recieve child care for my children to let them know i am no longer employed by this facility can they do that

    • Elizabeth, You will have to let the HR Department know why you need the letter, they should give you one. If not, you may have to ask your case worker to request it. In the later case, you will likely have to sign a release for them to do it.

  86. I hve been suspended for a week now and my employers gm held a meeting with the whole staff excluding me because he told me “im not allowed on the property nor able to call the establishment” with this being said a coworker told me that my gm told the staff im no longer working there. I never quit nor been face to face with my gm to tell me that im fired what do i do

    • Mike, you can contact your GM or the HR department to ask about your suspension and if or when you will be returning to work. Be prepared for them to tell you were terminated if what your co-worker has told you is true.

  87. Hi a year ago I was given a verbal warning from the head chef about parking on property. I signed. Alittle bit after that the chef injured him self while at work and never returned. This month I was given my first write up due do pulling out my phone while on a 5 min recess break during a meeting. I was on the clock so they wrote me up. Each month we have to go online and take assessment tests and complete. Last month I worked 110 hours due to lack of employees. I get paid every two weeks. I came on my day off on oct 3rd and completed my September and October tests. On October 14 they wanted me to sign my 2nd write up for completing Septembers test three days late… I told them I didn’t know I would of gotten written up and she said yes you did! I wouldn’t lie! So she said okay I’ll just write jessica refuses to sign which I’ve never said! And today October 19 I will be signing my 3rd and final write up due to me snacking in the kitchen when I agree was my fault and I agree that I messed up… but the other two write ups I don’t think they are worth getting written up?

    • Do later today I will have to go and sign my 3rd write up does this mean I’m no longer employed? This is all HR giving me 1 write up sept 23rd and two write ups this October.

      • Jessica,

        I can not tell you if you are no longer employed as every company has different policies about how write-ups are handled and at what point they terminate you. Most likely your company has a employee handbook – in it look for the section on progressive discipline. In that section, they may outline how to handle rebuttals (that is whey you contest or challenge your write-up). Good luck!

  88. Has there ever been a case that an separation agreement included the spouce of the terminated employee?

    • Elaine,

      That is a wide open question. Not that I am aware of since most agreements have to do with the person working there. However, there are always exceptions based on circumstances.

  89. hi I signed a separation agreement in oct 2016 and was told the company was downsizing…now I see my job posted with a slight change in title (which I would be qualified as well for). Is this legal? The job was posted 2 days after the separation funds were sent to my bank.

  90. I gave my 2wk notice at work, so I could get a better job & do the right thing.. my boss fired me on the spot.. then held my check for about 10 days, demanding I sign a paper that I quit .. he finally gave me my check.. isn’t that a type of blackmail?..

    • Steven,

      What your previous employer did is not blackmail. The definition of blackmail is: “the action, treated as a criminal offense, of demanding money from a person in return for not revealing compromising or injurious information about that person.” Depending on the state you live in, the rules for providing your last paycheck maybe different from another state. Some states have to provide it immediately, some have to do it on the pay cycle. You were under no obligation to sign something, however, from the company point of view, they can ask you to put something in writing that you quit. As for them letting you go immediately, employers can do that once you give notice to leave. They are under no obligation to keep you during your notice period.