Unemployment provides a safety net for employees who have lost their job so they can continue to pay their bills. It is not meant to be a long-term solution and is designed to give people enough time to be rehired and find a new position. While unemployment benefits can significantly help people who are actively searching for a new role, they are not always granted.
A common misconception is that people who are fired cannot receive unemployment and that it is generally given to people who were laid-off for reasons outside of the former employee’s control. However, this is not always the case. Even if you were fired, there are still times when unemployment can definitely be an option.
When Someone is Fired for Misconduct
In Arizona, companies have the right to fire employees for almost anything. If you were terminated because you were under-qualified or were not the appropriate fit, unemployment benefits will likely not be difficult to obtain. However, if you broke company rules or committed a crime, it is far less likely that unemployment compensation will be an option. This applies to inappropriate behavior even in a worker’s personal life.
Figure Out Your Rights
If you have recently been fired, it is important that you understand your rights so you can take the the correct steps to fix the situation. Ask your former company if they provide severance packages and apply for programs within your state which are put in place to help people who qualify. This will give you peace of mind and allow you to look for a new job within a stable environment.
Educate Yourself on the Basics of Unemployment
The laws surrounding unemployment differ state by state. Most state unemployment programs are bankrolled by employer taxes. How much unemployment you receive and its duration will rely on your previous salary and whether or not the terminated employee has other ways to obtain an income.
An employment contract is a document that you and your employer sign and that dictates the terms of your professional relationship. Most employees in the United States do not work under an employment contract but in some instances it makes sense. If you signed a contract at the beginning of employment, you are under contract. If you didn’t then you are not. You may ask for a copy of your contract at any time and your employer is required to give one to you.
What’s included in an employment contract?
A good contract will spell out exactly what you are expected to do as well as your salary. A good contract will also state the following:
- The term of employment (A period of months or years, until the completion of a project, or indefinitely)
- The responsibilities of the employee
- Benefits such as health, life or disability insurance or retirement accounts
- Vacation and sick day policies
- Reasons and grounds for termination
- Covenants not to compete that will limit the employee’s employment opportunities if he or she is terminated or otherwise leaves the company
- Nondisclosure agreements relating to your company’s trade secrets or client lists
- An ownership agreement stating that all materials produced by the employee during his employment are owned by the company
- Assignment clauses stating that any patents procured by the employee during his employment must be assigned to the company
- A method for resolving disputes relating to employment
Breach of contract and wrongful termination
Breach of contract can happen when either you or your employer breaks one of the terms on your contract, such as your employer doesn’t pay you your agreed upon wages or you don’t work your agreed upon hours. If your employer fires you before your contract is up and the termination breaches your contract, this is considered wrongful termination. In these cases you may be able to take legal action on your employer.