What To Do If You Are Fired
(or laid off)
Almost everyone will at some time in their working life be fired, laid off, or otherwise terminated from their job. In most places, including Oregon, employment is at will. This means your boss can fire you in most cases at pretty much any time, and for most any reason at all, or even no reason at all.
This can be a jarring experience, and if it is your first time, you may not know what to do. First, if you think you were wrongfully terminated, or you had an explicit, written contract for employment, then review other parts of this site for information on legal actions you can take. This page is for those who just need tips when they lose a job.
First, file for unemployment. You have what is called a waiting week where the State does not pay you, so you want to get that out of the way as soon as possible. If you do not know if you are eligible, apply and they can tell you. Generally speaking, if you quit a job you cannot get these benefits; if you are fired for just cause (such as stealing) you cannot get these benefits; or if you were fired after being put on notice that your job was in jeopardy due to performance you cannot get these benefits. Outside of that, you are often eligible.
Secondly, health insurance should be a top priority. Your former employer will offer you COBRA coverage if you had insurance through work. If your insurance was not through work, then this section does not even apply. The problem with COBRA is it is very expensive, so seek out alternatives. If you go through the health insurance marketplace you may be eligible for tax credits, and the plans are usually much cheaper than paying for COBRA. Since a termination counts as a life event, you can apply and enroll even though you may be past the annual enrollment period.
After you take care of unemployment benefits and health insurance, then comes the job search. Make sure you update your resume. Be careful what you write, as anything misleading may get you the job, but it can also then get you fired if the new employer finds out. Same thing with job applications; be truthful as most will eventually find out and the lying on the application tends to be more damaging than the actual criminal record.
Similarly, many places now have "ban the box" laws. In Oregon, that means an employer cannot make you submit to a background check until there is an offer on the table. Of course, the offer can be contingent upon passing a background check.
Lastly on the job search, always review your resume multiple times. Even have someone else take a look even if it is just to proofread.
Then the think about is obtaining a copy of your personnel file from your former employer. You can demand a copy, and your employer has 45 days to provide it. That way you have a better idea as to what is in it, though employers do not have to turn over everything.
Lastly, there is one legal issue to think about; your final paycheck. However, there is another page dedicated to that topic. Just be sure to force your employer to pay that last check on time, which in Oregon is a lot sooner than many employers think.