Terminated From Employment: What Is It?

By Sky Ariella - Feb. 9, 2021

Find a Job You Really Want In

When the professional terms between an employer and an employee are severed for any reason, it’s called a termination. Circumstances of employee termination happen either voluntarily or involuntarily, depending on who initiated the separation.

There are many reasons why employees are terminated from their positions, and being aware of them helps avoid the situation at your place of employment.

What Does It Mean to Be Terminated From Employment?

While there are multiple reasons that a person might be terminated from their job, it means only one outcome. The employee stops working for their current employer. They stop their daily professional duties and are no longer associated with the company.

After being terminated from a job, the employee goes through the process of being released from their duties and establishing a separation agreement. The termination procedure varies slightly between corporations and situations. Usually, it’s outlined during an employee’s onboarding to the company.

Even though the outcome is the same regardless of the reason for termination, there are a lot of ways an employee can reach this point.

Termination situations are broadly put into two categories: voluntary and involuntary termination.

Voluntary termination is when the employee makes a choice themselves to leave their position. When an employee is involuntarily terminated, their employer decides that their services are no longer needed and relieves them of their duties.

Reasons for Termination from Employment

Between voluntary and involuntary types of employee termination, there are various common reasons why this outcome happened. Below are some frequent reasons for employee termination.

  • Voluntary:

    1. Resignation. When an employee decides for any reason that it’s time to resign from their job, it counts as a voluntary termination. Even though they’re making a choice themselves to step away from their role, they still end their working relationship with their former employer.

      Resignation is accomplished according to company policy and professional standards. Usually, a two-week notice of resignation is given to allow the employer time to find a replacement.

      There are many motivations behind an employee departing from their job. A few popular reasons for quitting a position include:

      • Finding a better job

      • Relocating to a new city

      • Dissatisfaction with their current position or working conditions

      • Limited room for growth in their current position

      • Health or personal reasons

      • Going back to school

      • A career change

    2. Job abandonment. Another form of voluntary termination is job abandonment. This is similar to resignation. However, the employee does not give notice and simply stops showing up to work.

      Job abandonment is wildly unprofessional and definitely won’t end with you having a strong recommendation from your former employer.

      While there are situations that don’t allow the employee to give much notice, it’s always a better move to give your employer as much information as possible. This makes the transition smoother for both the employee and their employer.

    3. Retirement. When an employee has given their company years of loyal, hard work, and is past a certain age, they become eligible for retirement. Retirement allows them to stop working and sit back to enjoy life with the financial safety net of a pension, social security, or some other gradual benefit.

      Employees who choose to retire from their position after age 65 are voluntarily terminating themselves from their job.

  • Involuntary:

    1. Poor performance. Unlike voluntary termination, involuntary severance insinuates an issue on the employee’s part.

      One of the most common reasons that an employee is removed involuntarily is because their performance has been lacking. Although most employees start out strong, this determination and focus can wane over time.

      When an employee’s performance is falling behind, most employers provide them with a series of warnings increasing in severity. Eventually, if their work habits don’t improve, they are fired from the job.

    2. Behavioral problems. Another reason that employees are involuntarily terminated is displaying behavioral problems. These actions don’t necessarily have to do with poor performance, but it does disturb the work environment.

      Undesirable behaviors like sexual harassment, attendance issues, or an overall difficult personality to work with have the potential to cost an employee their job.

    3. Misrepresentation of skills. When candidates are desperately seeking jobs to no avail, some make the drastic choice to misrepresent their skills.

      Whether it be an innocuous exaggeration or flat-out lying on a resume, companies often catch on if an employee falsified their skills during the hiring phase.

      There’s rarely any coming back when an employee is discovered in this behavior. They’re almost always involuntarily terminated immediately.

    4. Layoffs and downsizing. While every other reason for involuntary termination puts the employee at fault for their dismissal, there’s a couple of situations that they couldn’t possibly have stopped.

      Layoffs and downsizing of a company lead to many employees being terminated from their positions involuntarily without doing anything wrong.

      This situation typically arises because the organization is running low on money or restructuring its business.

How Employee Termination Works

The separation process post-termination differs slightly between companies. Most businesses have an established system to handle both involuntary and voluntary employee termination.

When an employee voluntarily terminates, the procedure usually involves providing a notice, finishing up any projects, and helping with the transition.

During an involuntary termination, the situation is often drawn out a little more and handled at an administrative level, depending on the circumstance.

For example, a human resources department might provide the employee with several warnings before finally going forward with a termination.

The involuntary dismissal process is carefully documented to certify that no wrongful termination ensues.

What is Wrongful Termination

A wrongfully terminated employee is fired for reasons that are illegal, unjust, or breach of a predetermined contract. It is also considered wrongful termination if the severance occurs due to discrimination against a person’s race, religion, sexuality, or other protected characteristic.

Wrongful termination laws differ depending on the state you live in. Positions in the United States are more often than not at-will jobs. This means that both the employer and the employee have equal rights to terminate at any time unless a contract has been signed that states otherwise.

When an employee believes that their termination was wrongful, they have the option to file a claim through the court system. This involves a series of legal proceedings that ultimately determine who was wrong. An employee whose situation is found to be wrongful termination could receive compensation in some form.

Tips for Handling Being Involuntarily Terminated From Your Job

  1. Evaluate the situation. The feeling of being involuntarily terminated from a job is unlike any other. Your cheeks turn hot, and the room starts to blur. It’s natural to become overwhelmed at the possibility of losing your job and stream of income.

    However, making the most of the situation relies on staying level-headed and evaluating the situation rationally. Before doing anything else, figure out the reasons for the termination.

    Some questions to ask yourself while evaluating include:

    • Was the termination your fault, or is it just collateral damage to your company’s struggling?

    • If it was your fault, what did you do wrong?

    • What is your company’s policy regarding termination?

    • Were you terminated justly or wrongfully?

    With answers to these questions in mind, decide if the best course of action is to appeal the decision or accept it and move forward.

  2. Look into financial termination compensation eligibility. When an employee is terminated from their job, there are a few different ways they can claim financial help during a tough time of transition.

    Some companies offer severance pay or another form of compensation to employees who are let go, especially if their termination is due to downsizing. Speak with a supervisor about what severance pay your company offers before heading out for good.

    Another option is finding out if you’re eligible to receive unemployment benefits. This is a temporary government assistance program that partially assists financially to help unemployed individuals until they find their next job. Employees who were fired for particular reasons might be ineligible to receive unemployment benefits.

  3. Ask questions. The process of getting terminated is not when most employees want to raise their hands and inquire further. However, it’s one of the most crucial times to ask all the questions you need to. Some questions to ask when you find out that you’re involuntarily terminated include:

    • The reason for your termination

    • What you could’ve improved on

    • The company policies regarding involuntary termination

    • If the company offers a severance package or other forms of termination compensation

    Asking questions throughout the termination process lessens uncertainties later.

  4. Touch up your resume. If the termination was fair and you’re ready to accept it, the following thought is what move to make next. As someone who’s recently become unemployed, it’s the perfect time to refine your resume and get it ready to send to potential new employers.

    While the termination process is discouraging, keeping your confidence intact and your resume well-edited is what helps you get hired for a role that’s possibly even better than your last job.

    In addition to updating your resume, start browsing open positions on job boards to get a feel for the current hiring climate.

  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Being terminated from a position is a blow to the ego and bank account, but it isn’t the end of the world. Even if the reason for being fired was completely on your shoulders, it wouldn’t remedy the situation to punish yourself endlessly.

    Learn from the mistakes you made in your last job and decide how you intend to do things differently to be a better employee in the future.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating / 5. Vote count:

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Never miss an opportunity that’s right for you.


Sky Ariella

Sky Ariella is a professional freelance writer, originally from New York. She has been featured on websites and online magazines covering topics in career, travel, and lifestyle. She received her BA in psychology from Hunter College.

Related posts