Know your options when you’re let go - East Valley Tribune: Business

Know your options when you’re let go

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Posted: Monday, August 7, 2006 1:40 pm | Updated: 2:20 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Job loss is one of the most stressful situations a person can go through. But there are steps to take to assure you’ll get back on track.

Unemployment benefits may be a possibility, depending on your situation. If the job separation was due to theft or breaking major rules, the benefit is not available. If it’s a layoff or the situation was not a good fit with the employee and employer, contact the Arizona Department of Economic Security, said Doug Grimwood, a Phoenix attorney who specializes in employment law.

“To some extent it just depends on why a person was terminated,” Grimwood said.

There may be an opportunity to sit down with the employer and talk about the next steps, he said.

“From the time the employer says, ‘We really don’t think we can use your services anymore,’ my advice to the employee is to try to make the best of a bad situation. Nobody likes to fire anybody . That’s a good time to sit down and say, ‘What can we do about employment references so I can get on with my life and get on with another job?” he said.

If the employee has broken no laws and he or she has been at the job for a long period of time, it may be appropriate to ask for severance pay; typically ask for 1-2 weeks of pay for every year of service.

If it’s not completely clear as to why an employee is being let go – and there’s possible gender or race issues at play – the employee should use the conversation with the employer to ask for 1-2 weeks of pay per year of service.

“It’s probably a good time to sit down and say to the employer, ‘I’m not entirely sure why you’re letting me go,’” Grimwood said. “It’s a shock to the system when the employer says, ‘Clean out your desk.’ But that’s really when they have to have their wits about them.”

In most cases, Grimwood said employees come to see him when they feel they’ve been disrespected – such as being told to go immediately.

“If an employer is trying to figure out about firing people, the surest way to get them to see a lawyer is to not tell them what’s going on and call them in at the end of the call and say, ‘Clean up your desk,’ and have a rent-a-cop march them out by all their friends and just run them off,” Grimwood said. “It just makes people furious.”

“A job is pretty fundamental to everybody. It’s how we feed, clothe and house our family and make our way into the world. It’s also fundamental to a person’s personality. When you lose that it’s a big blow.”

Employers need to be taking steps all along if there is a bad situation. Coach employees if there is a problem.

“I tell my employer clients the situation should never be a surprise,” he said. “When the termination comes, it should be the last of the explanations or interactions.”

If you become unemployed and believe you are entitled to Unemployment Insurance benefits, a claim can be filed at

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