Gettin' ready for gettin' canned ...
January 22, 2008 1:31 PM   Subscribe

My employer wants to fire me, but I've got a little time. How do I land on my feet before I'm thrown to the street?

My supervisor informed me that his supervisor want to fire me. They agreed on a "plan" that I am to follow to stay employed. This is game and I know how it works. The plan is set up so no matter what, I'll ultimately be fired. The upside of this game, is that I should have approximately 3 months to prepare myself for "that day." Any advice on the following would be excellent.

- Attorney. I'm going to be talking to an attorney in the next day or so. I want to be prepared when I am presented with the "plan." I also want to be ready for "the day." Any advice on what I should ask my attorney (Note: I'm a white male under 40, none of the discrimination stuff will work for me.)

- Headhunter and job seeking. I'm a financial analyst with a Ph.D. who does consulting and expert testimony. Job hunting tips or headhunter contacts would be most appreciated.

- Getting by. While my supervisor has been a staunch ally, I've found that some co-workers who I thought of as friends have been backstabbing me. Of course they don't know that I know, but they won't look me in the eye. How do you face these people day-in and day-out?

If you would like more details, send them to my throwaway account:
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would seriously just say something to the effect of, "This plan is bullshit and we both know it--how about you just give me a severance package and we call it a day?" Then you can spend the next 4-8 weeks getting paid to look for a new job.
posted by fusinski at 1:41 PM on January 22, 2008 [7 favorites]

I've been thru something similar, only I made the mistake of thinking that since the manager who started the process with the 'plan' left the country as a federal fugitive, that the issue was dead. Be sure to document everything you've done in relation to the plan. After my firing, when I went to apply for unemployment, the former employer tried to claim misconduct on my part as rationale for not qualifying, but I had the favorable review I'd gotten between 'the plan' and 'the firing', and simply mentioning that I had a copy of a work document that contradicted their first response, the employment security folk ruled in my favor, not even asking to see the paperwork.
posted by nomisxid at 1:42 PM on January 22, 2008

Without more information, it's hard to say what you should ask your attorney, or even if there's any point in consulting an attorney. If you weren't discriminated against, and your employment is at-will, then I'm not sure what sort of help you expect to get from a lawyer. I'm also a little confused as to what you mean by the "plan." You may want to email one of the mods with more details, and they will in turn post them to this thread so that you remain anonymous.
posted by amro at 1:43 PM on January 22, 2008

"Rather than firing me in three months, give me six weeks' severance and don't contest my unemployment claim."
posted by kindall at 1:51 PM on January 22, 2008

Definitely see an attorney. (Don't listen to amro - don't post any more details here.) Before you go, get all your papers ready substantiating the "plan" and write up a chronology of events. The more prepared you are for the attorney, the fewer hours they bill you.
posted by footnote at 1:54 PM on January 22, 2008

amro, I suspect 'the plan' is what managers call "an action plan". It's a list of specific incidents or patterns of behavior, along with the company's expectation of change, listed out on paper. A copy is given to the employee, and placed in their file with HR. It's all about being able to forestall any future claim of "but you never told me you didn't like me doing X at my desk".
posted by nomisxid at 1:56 PM on January 22, 2008

A great deal depends on if you are being "fired" or "let go". The former (in most cases) would obviously be your fault, the latter would be your employer's fault. Unless you have a strong argument for thinking you are being unfairly fired, then you're likely screwed in the legal department, just make sure you get your agreed upon severance. If you are being let go at no fault of your own then you would be eligible for unemployment. Sounds like you have plenty of time to find a new job though, I'd just focus on that.
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb at 1:56 PM on January 22, 2008

Seconding the "document everything" advice. And keep a diary. Not so long ago - here in Australia - a guy named Mark Llewellyn took Channel 9 to the cleaners in court (story here), all because he'd made a record of every conversation he'd had with his superiors. It's powerful evidence if you decide to take legal action later down the track.
posted by kisch mokusch at 2:04 PM on January 22, 2008

I'd agree with the idea of documenting stuff, but I would also agree that you might want to talk to them about how you work out your leaving amicably. You don't say where you are, but in most countries (particularly the US), your employer can give you the boot for pretty much any reason (or indeed no reason at all). So, I suspect you may be better off cutting your losses and seeing if you can extract a decent severance package, a good reference and the chance to move on cleanly from this situation.
posted by baggers at 2:20 PM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Same exact thing happened to me. Document everything. If they set out guidelines in this plan, make sure you have proof of what you have or have not done before or after being informed of the plan. Print out all emails dealing with any issues that relate to the plan in any way. I knew from the start they'd fire me as well, so I doubt you're being paranoid.

Honestly, just pretend you know nothing. Play along. Deal with your coworkers in a professional manner, even if they've betrayed you. When they fired me, they informed they would deny unemployment as well. I fought them on it and won. In my case, the reason they fired me didn't disqualify me from claiming benefits, even though they had provided documentation of my 'plan'.

If you still have any allies, get a letter of recommendation. The goal here is to leave without ruining your reputation, and to ensure that you continue to find work in your field while being able to use your time with this employer as a good reference. While they're surely interviewing your replacements, use the additional time they're still paying you for to find new work. Which you seem to already be doing. Essentially, they've given you a gift of 3 months to find a new job.
posted by ninjew at 3:33 PM on January 22, 2008

I would not document everything, it sounds stressful and rather too much effort for possibly little reward. Your company will be able to fire you. You will not be able to sue them. They have the right to fire you, just as you have the right to quit. In some cases, it's not fair. Your time and money are better spend working towards a better job, where people aren't assholes and you're appreciated for your good work.

I would take a deep breath and look for another job, be as polite as possible, and ask your supervisor if you can use him as a reference when you leave.

Good luck.
posted by sondrialiac at 4:12 PM on January 22, 2008

Download all the emails and docs on your computer to a CD or USB drive that you can take home with you. I think you have a right to be told why you are being let go and a right to have it on paper (unless you're in Indiana)...unless they are laying lots of people off.
posted by onepapertiger at 4:19 PM on January 22, 2008

Don't pursue the legal option. Follow your plan and document everything IN WRITING just in case. In the meantime, you have the wonderful opportunity of being able to look for a new job while you're still gainfully employed. You can do a LOT in 90 days. Call in your network, print out your contact list, talk to recruiters, polish up your resume, take as many days off as you're allowed in order to interview, and for gosh sake DON'T BURN ANY BRIDGES.

Also, if you can -- resign before you get fired. Although getting fired is not necessarily bad if you can document excellent performance up to then, resigning is a lot less of a pain to explain to your next potential employer.
posted by drinkcoffee at 4:49 PM on January 22, 2008

Also, if you can -- resign before you get fired. Although getting fired is not necessarily bad if you can document excellent performance up to then, resigning is a lot less of a pain to explain to your next potential employer.

I thought that one wouldn't get unemployment benefits if they were to resign?
posted by kellyblah at 4:55 PM on January 22, 2008

You got balls, my friend. I have never stuck out a job that turned horrible waiting for the ax to fall. I just found something else, which is probably what they are hoping you will do. Something similar happened to someone I know. Their contract to "fix" things had about 40 things in it for her to work on and of course something happened that became a termintation point. She did not have 3 months-- it was more like three weeks. She was prepared for it but she was presented with a several page termination letter that she was supposed to sign on the spot to get some package on the way out. One of the points in that contract was she could not sue them. She didn't sign and didn't get the package. You might want to prepare yourself for a hard sell when you get pulled in for that final ambush. Good luck!
posted by 45moore45 at 6:33 PM on January 22, 2008

Is it going to be a problem if the employers knows that you are seeking another job? That is what I did when I found myself in this situation. I knew that my direct supervisor was supporting me but only up to a point, because I wasn't valuable enough to him to invest any capital with his supervisor. However, he fought to keep me while I was looking for a job and threw me consulting work after I left to help me transition.

So first thing is just start pulling in connections and letting people know you're likely to be on the market. So, yeah, headhunter. And depending on how honest you can be with your direct supervisor talk to him/her about this "transitional" period.

You'll want an attorney to go over any sort of severence package. My husband was summarily fired-- went in one morning clueless and showed up at my office around 11:30 with a cardboard box full of his stuff, saying "guess what." (They actually escorted him out of the building, the rat bastards.) They then attempted to make him sign a piece of paper stating that he would never work for any organization that had or might in the future have any dealings with the current organization (in other words they tried to get him out of the industry). I guess rat bastards doesn't really cover it. So, yeah, lawyer.

Also, document everything. Just in case.
posted by nax at 6:41 PM on January 22, 2008

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