Attorney Steven Mitchell Sack's new book The Employee Rights Handbook: Effective Legal Strategies to Protect Your Job From Interview to Pink Slip says there are steps to take if you are terminated. You can negotiate to receive maximum severance and benefits and obtain a favorable job reference. And it can be done without a lawyer. Sack says a job is a lot like a romance.
"The problem is that people are wooed by companies and they're promised all kinds of things: job security, benefits and promotions, and then one day the honeymoon is over and people are terminated suddenly without warning or notice and they're denied benefits, and that's a problem. Every firing is negotiable by the individual because people are being laid off by the millions in this economy. Let's say you're in your mid-60's and you've been in a company for 20 years — this could be your final job."
Sack says don't panic or scream or threaten litigation.
"My recommendation is appeal to corporate decency and fair play: 'I have two kids in college, my husband is not well, as you know, I've been here for 20 years. And your meager offer of six weeks severance is going to put me on the road to financial ruin. Tell them about positive things that you contributed to the company in the past. You will gain sympathetic allies who will feel sorry for you if you were a loyal colleague of theirs, 'cause they put themselves in your position and they will, more often than not, throw you more money."
Sack's book offers ways to recognize and handle on-the-job problems such as union and privacy rights, office romances, drug testing and discrimination issues.