20 Questions You Must Ask If You Are Laid Off or Fired

by Evil HR Lady on May 26, 2015

When you walk into what you think is a normal meeting with your boss and are surprised with a pink slip, it’s devastating. Even if you absolutely, positively hated your job, when your boss yanks it out from under your feet, it hurts and you can’t think straight.

You should, however, ask a series of questions even if your brain can’t handle that task right now. But, you can always call or arrange a meeting later to ask questions.

Your employer will generally provide a stack of paperwork that you can go through on your own, so you may not need to ask some of these questions. But, make sure you know the answers to all of them before you sign anything other than an acknowledgment that you have received information.

(If you’re an employer, these are the questions you will need to be prepared to answer in an employment termination situation.)

To keep reading, click here: 20 Questions You Must Ask If You Are Laid Off or Fired

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Roger Rabbit May 26, 2015 at 3:42 pm

I’ve been laid off twice.

The first time was due to a corporate reorganization where Judge Doom was given the top position in the new organization and proceeded to immediately use Dip on the organization. He Dipped me (laid me off) almost immediately. Just like in the movie, Judge Doom was a toxic person, but I was friends with the head of HR. The outcome was that Judge Doom wanted to kill me (not an exaggeration) while HR wanted me to succeed and I was caught in the middle.

I did not need to ask the questions because my HR buddy took care of me but I’m still not sure how good it was: Judge Doom wanted me laid off immediately, best done by anti-aircraft fire on a small arms firing range and HR got it so that I continued to report to work each morning for three more months (and get paid for it). Judge Doom made those three months HELL by removing everything from my office, removing all duties, and forcing me to sit there doing absolutely nothing. I was not allowed to use the computer to job search or for any other purpose, all I could do was sit there for three months and seethe. Judge Doom told all my coworkers that they were not allowed to communicate with me or they would pay the consequences.

After the three months I did receive a severance package and stayed on the company roster receiving medical insurance but was not allowed to apply for unemployment (because I was still technically an employee). I found another position before the severance ran out and was able to collect the remainder of the severance in a lump sum.

The second time was for a company that laid off people all the time and you went in each morning with the attitude of I have a 50/50 shot at being employed here by the end of the day. After several years, the day it happened to me, was actually a relief because the workplace was so toxic. This company gave no severance, no nothing, and laid it out clearly. I did use COBRA medical for a few months.

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ZenCat May 26, 2015 at 4:52 pm

When I was fired it was a 3-5 minute phone call (it was on my phone I forget exactly the #) on a Friday at 5pm I was expecting to start disability and was obviously not at the office. I asked about my healthcare and disability and was told by the HR person she’d have someone call me since she was busy. I asked for some clarification (the reasons given for my term were a bit peculiar and unexpected) and was told there wasn’t time, maybe in the future. I didn’t cry and wasn’t angry just in shock. I did get answers from my benefits contact.

Is that common? I really don’t think I was hysterical. I couldn’t recieve unemployment in my state because of being currently disabled. As far as references, i didn’t think to ask – but I know it wouldn’t be stellar! Thankfully I only interviewed, when I could work again, with two companies and both of them the recruiter mentioned my employer’s reputation (I explained my firing as a new manager and I just not comparable) – a little unprofessional but I figure it goes to show they didn’t take my firing seriously and I’m assuming didn’t bother to contact them? I have had a very good reputation in my field.

Would you ever recommend d hiring one of those “reference checker” services? I considered it, only because of their overall lack of professionalism even as a company of a couple thousand.

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Evil HR Lady May 26, 2015 at 4:59 pm

It shouldn’t be common. Terminating over the phone should be a last resort. If you were going out on disability and that was all arranged before, I can see why a phone call would be sufficient.

I recommend the reference checker services all the time on the advice of Donna Ballman, an employee side lawyer.

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ZenCat May 26, 2015 at 5:48 pm

It was expected on my part on my Drs decision when I got sick/sicker. My boss likely had an idea it was coming considering she dumped accomodations I had. 🙁 The phone call – two times – they let me know was in case I came in Monday they didn’t want me to arrive only to have to go home (since.. You know… Nobody does that everyday of work). You’ve answered questions of mine I had about this before 🙂 and I really wish I’d asked some of the questions you had listed here!

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Evil HR Lady May 26, 2015 at 5:53 pm

I wrote this specifically for a friend who was unexpectedly laid off. You don’t think of these things in time to ask them!

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Roger Rabbit May 26, 2015 at 9:01 pm

For my second layoff I was in the middle of something walking down the hall and passed a conference room. My boss said, “Hey Roger when you get a moment could you pop in here?” I said, “Sure boss, anything for you. I’ll put that thing I was working on aside. What can I do for you?” “You are laid off.”

I go to my office, get my lunch bag, say bye to my close people and leave.

Even for the toxic environment that was unexpected.

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ZenCat May 27, 2015 at 5:36 am

Yikes!

Steve G May 26, 2015 at 9:50 pm

I wish I was more assertive and asked these when I was fired for “not being a good long term fit” in 2010. I was afraid to ask “why exactly am I not a good long term fit” because I didn’t want to put the HR person in the awkward position of having to make something up (they got rid of a lot of people, and many of the firings didn’t make sense), because deep down, I think it was just that they weren’t crazy about me personally.

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charles May 29, 2015 at 2:48 am

RE: list of others being let go.

When I was laid off years ago, I sort of held up the works since I was running late to the “meeting”.

You see, since I was over 45 at the time, as were many others being let go, they were required by state law to give us a list of who else was being let go. The list did not include name, only age, gender, and job title; but, it would have been easy to figure out that I was on the list since I was the only male over 45 with my title.

The boss didn’t want to risk anyone figuring out before he had a chance to tell me. Which means he couldn’t tell anyone else they were being laid off until he told me. Which sort of made me wish I had been running even later; make him sweat it out even longer!

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ResumeON May 30, 2015 at 8:36 am

Nice article. I think it is general problem of every employee.

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