|How to Protect Yourself|
Whether or not you decide to seek legal assistance to determine whether you should proceed with a wrongful termination claim, it’s a good idea to accumulate documentation of the events surrounding your discharge so that you will be have an accurate picture of what happened. This material can be helpful if/when you apply for unemployment insurance, as well as when you apply for a new job. If your previous employer decides to challenge your unemployment claim, it will be important to show that the employer did not have a good reason to fire you.
In some states your employer is required by law to give you access to most parts of your personnel file (excluding some strictly confidential records.) When you request it, take a close look at what’s inside and ask your HR representative to make copies of your employee reports and reviews, whatever you think is important. Also, make a list of the documents it contains, in case your employer tries to deny the existence of a report—or adds a false report—in the future.
In addition, it’s important to keep your own documentation of the termination process. Keep accurate notes of dates, locations, and people involved in significant events such as commendations and reprimands, salary increases or decreases, regular performance reviews, or even casual comments from your supervisor in reference to your work. These notes should also include any witnesses who may have been present, including any members of the management. Make sure you keep these notes in a safe place. Also, it’s a good idea to back up your own notes with materials produced by your employer (e.g. an employee handbook.)