If you have been terminated from your job, you have rights. You have the right to receive your final check and you might be eligible for unemployment compensation and severance pay. You also have the choice to continue your health insurance coverage. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler might help you to understand the rights that you have after you lose your job.
Different types of employment
Most employment is at will. This means that private employers are allowed to terminate employees at any time and for nearly any reason. However, employers are not allowed to terminate an employee in violation of a contract or for an unlawful purpose.
When there is an implied contract that governs the employment relationship, a termination in violation of it may be illegal. A termination that violates public policy may also be unlawful. For example, if you were fired because you reported for active duty in the military or attended jury duty, it is unlawful.
Job terminations that are discriminatory are also illegal. This includes terminations on the basis of protected statuses such as race, religion, color, national origin, sex, disability, and age if you are over the age of 40. If you were terminated because you engaged in a protected activity, your firing may also have been illegal.
Receiving your last paycheck
You must receive your final paycheck on your next regularly scheduled pay date after your termination. Your final paycheck must include all of the pay that you are owed.
Some workers have severance agreements, which are contractual agreements between them and their employers. These agreements normally provide that the employers will give terminated workers severance packages in exchange for the employees’ promises to not sue their employers. Severance packages may include lump-sum payments, health insurance, outplacement services, and continued payments for a set duration of time.
Employers are not required to offer severance packages. You may have rights to a severance package if the following things apply:
- You have a written contract that includes a provision for severance pay;
- Your employee handbook has a written policy on severance pay;
- Your employer has historically offered severance packages to other similarly situated employees; or
- Your employer made a promise to offer you severance pay.
Continuing your health coverage
Employees who are terminated have the right to continue their health insurance under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act or COBRA. Under this law, you are able to continue your health insurance for a limited time period. Employers with 20 or more employees have to offer the choice to continue health insurance to terminated employees. The former employees who opt to continue their health insurance must pay the full cost of the coverage.
Depending on the length of your employment, the number of hours that you worked, and the reason for your termination, you may be able to secure unemployment compensation. If you qualify, you may receive compensation while you look for a new job. You are able to receive benefits for up to 26 weeks. If you qualify, you might also be eligible for an additional 20 weeks of benefits.
Talk to the lawyers at Swartz Swidler
If you have been terminated, it can be very stressful. Regardless of why you lost your job, you have specific rights. An attorney at Swartz Swidler may help you to protect you if your rights have been violated. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.