I Have Just Been Fired – What Do I Do?
If you have just been fired, there are a number of steps you should take to protect your rights. 1. Ask for your personnel folder – every employee has a right to a copy of his or her personnel folder. Write a request to HR seeking your file. 2. Final pay check – if you have been fired, in California, your employer must give you a final paycheck for all earned but unpaid wages (including vested vacation time, PTO, bonuses, commissions, or other earned wages) within twenty-fours (24) hours after termination. 3. Health insurance – Federal COBRA is a U.S. law that applies to employers and group health plans that cover 20 or more employees. It lets you keep your group health insurance when your job ends or your hours are cut. You have to pay the premium but you can keep your insurance for at least 18 months. Cal-COBRA is a California law that is like Federal COBRA. Cal-COBRA applies to employers and group health plans that cover from 2 to 19 employees. It lets you keep your insurance for up to a total of 36 months. To find out more information about COBRA and important deadlines Click the Link to the California Department of Managed Health Care. . To find out more information about COBRA and important deadlines, here is a link to the California Department of Managed Healthcare. www.hmohelp.ca.gov/dmhc_consumer/hp/hp_cobra.aspx 4. Unemployment benefits – If you have not been fired for cause, i.e., you have been fired for an illegal reason or you were forced to quit because your job became intolerable due to an illegal reason, then you may file for unemployment benefits. Here is link to the Employment Development Department: http://www.edd.ca.gov/. 5. Look for a new job – An employee who has been fired must mitigate his or her damages, which means that you must try and find similar employment. You should look for a job on a daily basis and keep a journal or log of all job openings you reviewed, all websites you visited, all applications you submitted, and all interviews you went on, along with the corresponding dates.
6. Seek help for distress caused by your employment – if you are suffering any psychological or physical distress as a result of your employment and termination, you should seek immediate medical help California State University. California State University San Francisco provides a list of low cost counseling centers in the Bay Area. Click Here for More information: http://cancer.ucsf.edu/_docs/sms/BayAreaLowCostClinicsJune2012.pdf.
7. File a DFEH Complaint – If you believe you were fired for any illegal reason, including for discrimination, retaliation, whistle blowing, or any act covered under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), you MUST file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) within one (1) year of your date of termination. Here is a link to the DFEH: http://www.dfeh.ca.gov/Complaints_eCompProc.htm.
After filing a complaint with the DFEH and receiving a Right to Sue Notice, you have one (1) year to file a complaint in Court to pursue your rights under FEHA.
- You were fired for an illegal reason, such as discrimination on the basis of your race or color; religion; national origin or ancestry, physical disability; mental disability or medical condition; marital status; sex or sexual orientation; age, with respect to persons over the age of 40; and pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition, then your legal rights must be protected.
- While employed or at the time of termination, if you did not receive proper compensation, such as not being paid overtime, for off-the-clock time, for on-call or waiting time, for travel time, for training, for uniform purchase or cleaning, for tool or equipment purchase, for gas mileage, for earned bonuses or commissions, for earned vacation wages, or you were not paid at the prevailing wage for government contract, or you were not provided with meal or rest breaks, then your legal rights must be protected.
- If you were fired for whistle blowing about any illegal conduct at your employment, including safety violations, discrimination or harassment, illegal pay practices, or other illegal violations, then your legal rights must be protected.