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What to Do When an Employment Contract Goes Sour?

By: Jason Markum

This global recession is hitting just about everyone. Companies are losing money because the economy is doing so poorly. One way for companies to make up for losses is to lay off its employees, thus reducing a major cost center. If you have an employment contract though, it becomes much more difficult for them to fire you… but not impossible.

When you first started the job and first signed the contract neither you or your boss probably thought about firing you. It was just a distant possibility, not something to think about at the time. For whatever reason, things may have gone wrong somewhere along the way; whether because of the recession or for some other reason, your boss may be looking to get rid of your. What do you do?

The first thing you should do before you do anything else is to review your employment contract. Don’t just look at the severance clause which shows you the specifics of what a company should pay you if they terminate the agreement. Also be sure to pay attention to any other section that you think your boss may use to get out of paying severance pay, or that they may use to pay less severance than you deserve. Be sure to review the “for cause” section that will describe in greater detail what conditions you can be held in violation of the agreement, in which point your employer doesn’t have to pay you anything.

The next thing you want to be sure to do is fulfill all of your contract provisions to the letter. Don’t give your boss any pretext for kicking you out without severance. Go to all meetings, stay at work for the whole day, and don’t violate any company policies whatsoever… even tiny stupid policies. Don’t even bring home an office pen, so they can’t fire you for theft. Realize they may be looking to fire you for any reason whatsoever; even a stupid reason.

Next you should collect proof of your situation. Create a file that lists all the good work you’ve done for the company; I’m talking about good reviews you’ve received from supervisors, documents or memos that showed how you have achieved certain goals, things like this. Anything that can show you in a good light so that they can’t suggest that you are a bad employee.

Next you may request an evaluation of your work to date. This shows that you are open to criticism and are actively working to do the best that you can. Along the same lines you might try sending a memo to your supervisor discussing the current state of any projects you are working on. In the memo say things like “we are currently achieving the goals of this project”. Even if they don’t agree with you, later on you can produce this memo as evidence that you were doing your job well.

None of these things will keep you from getting fired if your boss has already decided to fire you. What they will do however, is allow you to make a case for receiving full severance and make sure you don’t get cheated out of what you deserve.

But every little thing you can do along these lines will surely help in the end.

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