How to Explain Wrongful Termination

How to Explain Wrongful Termination

The greatest fear of most employees is getting fired, especially if it’s unexpected. Questions like “what did I do?” or “where did I go wrong?” will most often come to mind. While employers are not required to provide laid off or terminated employees with a written warning, it might help with your peace of mind to know the particular reason or reasons that cost you your job.

If you think the cause is unreasonable or that it might possibly violate your contract or the law, you might be facing a wrongful termination. Also known as wrongful discharge or wrongful dismissal, wrongful termination is a legal term that is basically applied to situations when an employee is fired or laid off illegally. 

Note that most people in the U.S. are under an at-will employment, which means that their employer has a lot of leeway when it comes to keeping and firing staff. So, in essence, you can only be wrongfully terminated if the firing or layoff breached your contract or if it broke state or federal laws. 

Some examples of wrongful termination include any termination or layoff that is the result of discrimination, retaliation, or an employer acting in bad faith. Discrimination happens when you lose your job because of your race, religion, age, or pregnancy, for instance. Retaliation occurs when you get fired after filing for a harassment case against someone in the company or if you became a whistleblower. A company firing or laying off their employees to avoid paying pension benefits is an illustration of an employer acting in bad faith. 

Whatever the cause of your wrongful termination, explaining the same to potential employers can be hard. So, here are some tips to help you do just that. 

How to Explain Wrongful Termination in Your Job Application

Before anything else, here’s an important note on wrongful termination: You don’t have to mention it if you’re not being asked about it. To be sure, being honest with a future employer is important. However, don’t volunteer to bring up the topic of your wrongful termination yourself. And, even if it does get discussed, be sure to be both truthful and tactful. 

If you really don’t want your wrongful termination to be a topic at all, or to minimize that possibility, you can always do volunteer work, freelance, enroll in a course, or get involved in some other project so as to fill the gap in your resume. 

With that out of the way, let’s now focus on how to explain wrongful termination in your job application. 

You have two options: Be honest or write nothing. It all depends on the employer. 

Leave it out

If in the job post the employer only asks for your resume without any other instructions, then there’s no need to mention the wrongful termination. Instead, focus on your job history and experience. In particular, zoom in on the skills and achievements that are relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Some questions you can ask yourself include: What measurable contributions did you make at your previous job? What new skills have you developed during your last employment? And, so on. 

Or, be truthful about it

On the other hand, if the employer asks for the reasons why you left each position, then you’ll need to be honest about it. Be truthful but do it with tact. Remember, you can answer honestly without being too detailed about it. 

Keep your explanation concise but positive. Don’t put your previous employer in a bad light, but instead talk about how the separation was mutually beneficial and the actions you’ve taken to make improvements on yourself since then. This will show the employer that you are adaptable and able to turn your mistakes and negative experiences to your benefit – a desirable quality you can bring to your new workplace. 

Alternatively, you can simply write “terminated,” “laid off,” or “job ended” and elaborate on it once asked by the hiring manager in person, where you’ll have a better chance of explaining the situation. 

How to Explain Wrongful Termination in an Interview

While you might get away with not talking about your wrongful termination in your job application, there’s a good chance it might come up during the interview. So, how do you handle it? Here are some tips.

If your termination was out of your control or did not have to do with your performance or ethics, e.g., layoff: 

Provide an honest explanation that is short but to the point. Layoffs and other scenarios that are out of your control are the perfect explanation that requires no further elaboration. Make sure to add the proactive measures you did after the layoff, for instance, updating your skills or knowledge.

If your termination was due to your performance or ethics:

No. 1, don’t use the word “fired.” You can use “let go” or “terminated” instead. 

Keep your answer honest and short, and then lead the conversation on to what you learned from the negative experience. End by stating a benefit or emphasize your enthusiasm to use your experiences and skills for the new job. In other words, make a short but truthful reply and then shift the interview to the present and future. 

If you won the wrongful termination case:

Consult your previous employer’s HR to know their stance about discussing the wrongful termination claim. Talk to your lawyer too about how you should respond during the interview when the topic comes up.

If you’re planning to file a wrongful termination claim:

If you’re in the process of filing a wrongful termination claim against a former employer, it’s important to be tactful during the interview. You don’t want to say anything that might jeopardize your case. So, ensure to talk with your attorney first regarding how you should respond during the interview when asked about your previous job.

If you have no plans of filing a wrongful termination claim:  

Remain composed and avoid using the term “fired” during the interview. Be honest but keep your answers brief and succinct. And, only talk about the termination when the hiring manager brings it up and answer only the questions that they ask. 

When responding, it’s best to lead the conversation back to the present by focusing on your eagerness to make use of your skills and experience again in your next job. In other words, show the employer that you’re mentally ready to dive into your next job and what you bring to the table. 

It might also help to have a letter of recommendation or reference from a former supervisor or colleague, who are preferably no longer affiliated with and can talk professionally about your previous employer. 

Last but not least, never speak poorly about your previous employer. If you do, you’ll raise a red flag and the interviewer might think of you as a potential risk. 

How to explain wrongful termination

In conclusion, explaining wrongful termination to potential employers requires a strategic and tactful approach. If not directly asked, there’s no need to mention it in job applications; focus instead on highlighting your skills and achievements. If you must address it, be honest yet succinct, framing your experience in a positive light and emphasizing personal growth and readiness for new challenges. Handling the topic with care and professionalism can prevent it from being a hindrance to your job search.

One thought on “0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post Fire Damage Clean Up