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How do you protect yourself if you’re about to be fired?

Most people have some idea that they’re about to be fired before it actually happens. If you feel like you’re about to receive your pink slip any day now, is there anything you can do?

The bad news is that there’s probably nothing you can do to prevent yourself from being fired. The good news is that there are steps you can take to put yourself in the best possible position for recovery — especially if you think that your termination is unfair or unlawful.

Here are some of the things you should do if you suspect you’re about to be fired:

1. Remove your most important personal effects

You may not want to be obvious about this, but if there’s anything that you particularly value, it might be wise to discreetly take it home. That way, you won’t have to worry about collecting anything important once the firing happens. If your employer takes a long time returning the rest of your things after you are fired, it won’t matter.

2. Gather up any evidence you may need of wrongdoing.

While you still have the ability to access your files, your desk and your computer, you need to collect anything that might help you in a wrongful termination lawsuit. That means making copies of anything you can legally access, like:

  • Emails between you and your boss or human resources
  • Emails or memos that support your allegations of harassment or discrimination
  • Copies of your performance reviews, disciplinary write-ups and other personnel actions
  • Copies of any awards you’ve received for your work or letters of appreciation from your employer
  • Copies of any nondisclosure agreements or noncompete clauses you may have signed
  • Documentation regarding anything you may still be owed, including bonuses and commissions
  • Copies of the employee handbook and any memos regarding employee behavior or discipline you’ve received

Essentially, you want to gather up anything that might have evidentiary value — and never assume that you will have the ability to collect the information after you are fired. That means you should take steps to store your copies somewhere that you can access outside of work — otherwise, your efforts may go to waste.

When the bad news finally comes, you’ll be prepared for a calm exit and you can leave knowing that you have done everything you can to protect your future.

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