So You Think You May be Getting Fired. Now what?

There are a few helpful ways to prepare for the termination of your employment if you think the words “you’re fired” are on the horizon. A poor performance review, a company-wide restructuring resulting in layoffs, or a reduction or changes to your job duties over a period of time may all be signals that the end of employment draws near. Regardless of how or why it happens, it’s important to be prepared to strengthen your position and to maximize your potential severance.

Do Not Tip Your Hand – It Does Not Often Help To Request a Package

 If you are unhappy in your job and are hearing rumours that terminations are coming due to budget cuts, or a merger, you may think that by volunteering to be let go it will put you in a better position for a severance package.

You are wrong.

By voluntarily asking to be let go, or making it known that you would welcome a “package”, your employer will assume that the separation is mutually agreeable and therefore may not offer the fat severance package you expected and may deserve.

How To Act When You Think You’re About to Get Fired: Keep Doing the Job!

If you think your termination is coming, continue doing your job. Keep attending meetings, keep showing up on time and keep fulfilling the duties of your role. By doing so, there is less opportunity for your employer to terminate you for cause on the basis of time theft or insubordination, for example. This is important when you are seeking to receive the best severance package.

Before the termination of your employment, your employer may begin to treat you poorly in hopes that you resign and therefore avoid the costs involved in termination of employment.  Your employer may begin to do this by slowly and progressively removing the duties of your role in the hopes that you either quit, or it provokes a reaction from you to allow your employer to then terminate you with cause.  Stay cool, document the conduct, take the high road and continue performing the job to the best of your ability and wait for your employer to fire you. If your matter should ever go to trial, your counsel can then argue that despite the attempts at provocation, you continued to fulfil the duties of your role and acted with loyalty and courtesy at all times.

Clean Out Your Desk or Office

If you have a good feeling that the termination of your employment is in the near future, start bringing some small personal items home from your desk or office such as pictures, plants and any other items that could be lost, mishandled following your departure or damaged if shipped to you afterwards.

Sometimes after people are let go, they are escorted off the premises, or given very little time to collect their entire belongings. Bring home sentimental keepsakes or items you use frequently before your termination to avoid having to wait long periods of time to be reunited with your cherished treasures.

Collect Documents and Records

Prior to the termination of your employment, start saving copies of documents and records you would like to keep for your portfolio. You likely will not have any access to this library of works immediately following termination.  However, be careful to avoid breaking any confidentiality obligations. Remember, you do not want to give your employer any reason to terminate you for cause, so ensure that whatever you are saving for your portfolio is not proprietary.

Also remember to download, print or photograph on your cell phone any portal or password-protected information pertaining to your employment to help in any claim for entitlements at termination of employment. Once an employee is fired, access to those portals is oftentimes cancelled, making it harder to obtain information later unless a request is made of the employer. Examples of information to gather and retain are health and dental benefits policies, pay stubs, vacation time calculations and job descriptions.

File a Statutory Complaint to Protect Your Position and Claim Additional Damages

If you believe you have a legitimate claim under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Canada Labour Code, Employment Standards Act, 2000, Canadian Human Rights Act or Ontario’s Human Rights Code, ensure that you collect the appropriate evidence needed to substantiate your claim, and make the claim or complaint as soon as possible! There is a benefit to avoid delaying until after termination of employment.

Your employer has a statutory obligation under the above workplace laws to avoid acts of reprisal against employees who bring for a complaint under those laws. Meaning, they cannot mistreat, discipline or fire you for making a complaint under the above statues. Employers who engage in what appears to be reprisal are liable to pay additional damages to the employee and as such, may delay the termination of employment, providing you with longer job security and potential notice period. If you are filing a complaint of discrimination or unsafe workplace, for example, ensure that you make the complaint in writing as quickly as possible before your employment is terminated to help increase the damages you can potentially seek post termination of employment.

Obtain a Positive Reference

To assist you in finding a new job following the termination of your employment, you may benefit from requesting and securing a reference from a superior or colleague. Having a positive reference may even help rebut an employer’s argument later that your employment was terminated due to performance issues.

The Dreaded Termination Meeting

During your termination meeting, stay calm, listen, take notes and sign nothing. During the termination meeting, do not sign anything. You may accept any paperwork you are given, but do not sign anything. Following the meeting, contact an employment lawyer to advise and represent you.

Take Care of Yourself

Knowing that you may be terminated from your job can be an incredibly stressful experience. It is important to ensure that you are eating and sleeping properly so that when the termination of your employment happens, you are in a healthy state of mind to make hefty decisions and instruct your lawyer.

Update Your Resume, LinkedIn and Commence Your New Job Search

Consider updating your resume and LinkedIn profile as soon as possible post termination as you will likely be expected to look for new comparable employment in pursuing litigation against your former employer.

Trial judges do not sympathise with plaintiff employees who use their dismissal as an opportunity to take a vacation at the expense of an employer. Document all the jobs to which you have applied for so that you are able to prove you began your search for comparable employment. Also, keep a record of all expenses from your job search, ideally receipts for any gas, aeroplane transportation for interviews, hotels, meals, etc. Reasonable expenses for your efforts to find an alternative job can be compensated but only with receipts.

If you feel you may be getting fired and have questions or inquiries regarding the possibility of your termination, contact Zubas Flett Law at 416-593-5844 or