Facing the complexities of the modern job market is tough enough, but what happens when you’re wrongfully terminated from your position? Talking about it in future job interviews can also be quite challenging, so as not to make a bad impression, which sparked a discussion amongst Reddit users, who had similar experiences.
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- The Modern Job Market: The digital age has amplified global job competition, leading some companies to lower their standards for workplace environments. This can result in wrongful terminations, where employees are let go without evidence or against contractual and legal procedures.
- Addressing Wrongful Termination in Interviews: While it’s essential to be honest during job interviews, disclosing legal disputes or wrongful termination details can be detrimental. Instead, it’s advised to focus on the positive experiences or provide neutral explanations for parting ways with the former employer.
- Steps After Wrongful Termination: Those who believe they’ve been wrongfully terminated should take specific steps. This includes documenting evidence, understanding their rights under federal and state laws, consulting with an employment attorney, and filing relevant complaints.
Navigating the modern job market is an increasingly hard task that sometimes feels like a never-ending obstacle course. Gone are the days when sending out a few resumes was enough to land a job. Obviously, with digital technology, we’ve entered a world of global opportunities, where you can reach the highs that were unimaginable before. However, this has a flip side: the competition has become global as well. So, while you can contact an employer and apply for a job without putting too much effort into it, you’re also competing with tens (if not more) of other applicants.
This is the exact reason why some companies lowered their standards when it comes to the working environment: if you can find another employee in the span of a few days, why bother? A similar situation happened to one of the Reddit users, where they were unjustly laid off from their job due to so-called “underperformance”, on which the company provided zero evidence. They are anxious to continue navigating the job market since they have a bit of a stain on their resume now.
“I got fired for underperformance, but there was no proof of underperformance and it was a surprise to me. What’s more, the procedure for termination listed in my employment contract and in local labour law was not followed at all. I have a lawyer and if I don’t obtain a good enough settlement, I’ll go to court. How do I explain this in future interviews? Will that make it harder to find a job?”
Besides, burning bridges with your previous employer can (and probably will) look shady for your new workplace, unless they dig deeper and make sure that it wasn’t your fault for getting laid off. Nobody wants to have an employee that might sue the company in the future. So, what should you do: tell the complete truth, lie during the interview, or try to spin the narrative in a way that’s beneficial to you?
What Exactly Is Wrongful Termination?
In order to understand the issue a little bit better, it’s important to dive into the legal side of things. Bare with us, since understanding the law can be crucial for any decision-making process on such a serious scale.
Wrongful termination usually happens when a “termination violates state or federal laws or an employment contract”. Of course, the company and the worker can decide to part ways on good terms, but unfortunately, it’s not the case for everybody. To put it simply, wrongful termination is an issue that exists at the intersection of law, ethics, and workplace dynamics. Some of the examples of wrongful termination can include things such as breach of contract (basically, when the company doesn’t follow the rules in it), harassment, discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., retaliation (when an employer punishes you because you reported a problem or spoke up), whistleblowing, committing illegal acts (an employer expects the employee to break the law). The list could go on.
It’s necessary to understand, that wrongful termination doesn’t just disrupt the livelihood of the particular employee involved; it can also create a ripple effect, impacting team morale and opening the employer up to legal and financial consequences. With that being said, understanding the ins and outs of what constitutes wrongful termination is crucial for employees to be able to defend themselves.
Facing Legal Repercussions When Dealing with Wrongful Termination
Due to the issue in question being a touchy topic, many Redditors weighed in with their comments and personal experiences. Most of the people under the thread agreed that the person should think twice before explaining the situation and especially mentioning any sort of legal battles between them and their employer. It’s understandable that companies want to protect themselves in case of anything and, to make matters worse, not everybody will be bothered enough to check the facts.
The author of the original post stated that they are ready to go to court if they don’t get a satisfactory settlement from their former workplace, which is why many users advised strongly against mentioning it in any future interviews.
“Whatever you do, do NOT mention having a lawyer and/or suing in regards to the past employer. This will make any potential employers avoid you like the bubonic plague.”
“Saying you got fired and taking them to court may back fire and show you are a liability to new company.”
“Say the absolute minimum. Obviously, don’t use that company as a reference and for goodness sake, never mention litigation.”
“For Christ’s sake, whatever you do don’t mention you’re suing them.”
Obviously, nobody wants to appear as a liability first thing after the interview starts, but you can’t build your professional relationship on lies from the get-go. That is why another user proposed to be as close to the truth as possible without giving out too much information.
“I hate lying, and everyone finds out eventually anyway, especially considering they might contact the previous employer, which might let them spin the story the way they want. I’d rather make sure that the story is spinned the way I want, without making me look bad. No need to mention anything about the litigation, that’ll just make you look like a liability, as others have mentioned.”
Besides, if the termination is in fact unjust and your prospective employer decides to side with the former one, it is safe to say that you’ve dodged that bullet.
Focus Either on the Valuable Experience or Remain Neutral
On the other hand, being honest doesn’t mean you have to disclose every detail of your past employment disputes. It’s a delicate balance between being transparent and ensuring you’re not closing doors before they even open. Most employers value honesty, but they also want to avoid potential drama or conflicts. While the general consensus leans towards caution in sharing any legal details, it’s also essential to be honest about your employment history.
The majority of the users, once again, sided with each other and concluded that it would be the best choice to focus on anything good that happened to you while you were working. Meaning, that if asked directly about the circumstances leading to your departure from a previous job, you should consider focusing on the positives and lessons learned rather than delving into the messy details (it’s not an episode of “The Real Housewives” for that matter).
Apart from that, some of the Redditors shared an opinion that anybody in a similar situation should remain neutral. It can be hard to come up with a good story if the previous workplace was truly toxic, however, there are a lot of so-to-say “socially acceptable” reasons why a person might be let go from the job.
“The standard from either side is to say, we were going in different directions and decided to part terms amicably.”
“Learned x, y, and z but ultimately it wasn’t a good fit.”
“Don’t say you were fired. Say you were “let go.” Fired implies you did something wrong. “Let go” is less negative.”
“Company was restructuring and there were unforeseen layoffs. If you want to stay close to the truth. I wish to join a company where I can expand my knowledge base and grow professionally. I’m looking for a company who values their employees and fosters professional growth.”
Remember, interviews are an opportunity to showcase your strengths and growth, not to dwell on past disputes. Being diplomatic, without lying, can help maintain your integrity while still making a positive impression.
Tips to Follow After Being Wrongfully Terminated
Wrongful termination is no surprise in today’s job market, even with improved working standards. Although the law may differ from one country to another, the US government has a list of steps to follow in case a person is unjustly let go from their job and wants the company to face consequences for it.
Being wrongfully terminated from your job can be distressing, but you have rights and resources available to help. If you believe you’ve been let go for unjust reasons, these steps (which aren’t in any way legal advice) are generally recommended to follow:
- Document Everything: Before leaving your workplace, ensure you gather all relevant documentation. This includes employment contracts, emails, performance reviews, and any other evidence that can support your claim.
- Understand Your Rights: Familiarize yourself with federal and state laws on wrongful termination. The U.S. government prohibits dismissals based on race, color, nationality, religion, sex, age, or disability.
- Consult with a Lawyer: Speak to an employment attorney. They can provide guidance on whether you have a case, the potential damages you could receive, and the best course of action.
- File a Complaint: Depending on the nature of your dismissal, you might want to file a complaint with a relevant agency. For instance, if you believe you were terminated due to discrimination, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the appropriate body.
- Stay Calm and Professional: It’s essential to remain professional, even if you believe you’ve been wronged. Avoid speaking negatively about your former employer, especially on public platforms.
- Start Your Job Search: While pursuing a claim, it’s also essential to look ahead. Begin searching for new employment opportunities, leaning on your network and resources for support.
Remember, wrongful termination isn’t just a violation of your rights; it’s a breach of trust. But with the right approach, information, and support, you can navigate the aftermath effectively and ensure justice is served.
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