Fired. What’s Next?

Question:

I have a question ASAP please. I hope you answer to me. I’ve been working for an insurance company for 2 years now. I’ve recently been fired. They quoted a number of reasons for this and I’m trying to sort this out: 1. I used the work computer for personal use (that’ s because my own computer broke last 2 weeks). 2. Communication problems with manager (I’ m foreigner and I am culturally- challenged). They also said I am impolite (I don’ t know about that). 3. Some bad evaluation reports (it’ s true I’ vet been struggling a bit to keep up with the work. 4. Failed to pass exam (it’ s true the company was letting me use work time to study for exam and also they paid for enrollment for exam which I failed a couple of times to pass lately). Based on these, what should I do now, please? Is this gonna give me a bad record with this company? Am I gonna be able to find new job? Could you help me on what steps to do from now on? Is the above wrongful termination of job, or are they right in firing me? Can I negotiate? They said they will give me 60 days of salary until I find another job if I don’t complain about the firing. Of course, I will immediately look for another job; I hope it turns out ok.

Signed,

Fired


Answer:

DearĀ Fired:

I am sorry to hear that you have been fired. However, you are to be commended for admitting that some of the reasons for your termination as cited by the company are correct. With this attitude you can probably learn from these mistakes. Let’s look at the issues closely. If your company has a policy against using work computers for personal use (most do), then, by your own admission, you have violated that policy. By this token, the company not only has the right; but also the responsibility to hold you accountable. Did you use the company computer for personal use while on the clock? If so, you demonstrated significantly poor judgment. After all, you are not paid to do personal work but that assigned by your company. Under the circumstances you describe, the company would probably have approved temporary use of their computer after you had completed your workday. But, you should have done so only with approval. You do not need to feel guilty about having communications problems with your manager if you are of foreign extraction. That is probably to be expected. However, your manager might be willing to make concrete suggestions or cite specific examples if you approach him/her in the proper manner. This applies also to the impoliteness. Try to gain concrete examples of exactly what constituted the impoliteness, apologize and learn from it. The bottom line appears to be that your performance showed weakness as indicated on your evaluation reports. At the same time, you failed to pass required exams although your company was generous enough to let you study on their time and pay the exam fee. It seems that, in this case, the company went beyond their call of duty in an attempt to help you. Also, it would appear that, based on these factors alone, your termination was not wrongful. While unfortunate, it seems fair- -especially since they are allowing you 60 days separation pay. This is most generous on their part and somewhat unusual. What steps to take at this point? First, I would suggest that you have someone skilled in written communication help you write a note to your immediate manager. Thank him for the opportunity that has been afforded to you for the past two years. He gave you employment and extended courtesies beyond that which is to be expected. In this letter ask for a conference in which you can discuss the communication problems and the unintentional impoliteness. A willingness to help you has already been demonstrated. Most likely, the manager will still do so. This conference may go a long way toward also securing a positive recommendation from the manager to your future potential employers. Your next step might be to contact your local labor department (employment office), which is funded by government agencies. This office can provide a job counselor who can guide your search for employment. Ask this person about classes in English as a second language which you might attend. Many of these classes are free or charge minimally. A number of churches and religious organization, for instance, sponsor such instruction. If you are lucky, this class will also cover some culturally based issues with which you need help (inadvertent impoliteness etc). Ask the job counselor about aptitude testing which will reveal your strengths and help guide your job search.

I think you can find another job, and I do think it will turn out ok. But, remember–learn from the mistakes you made at the insurance company. Maintain the positive attitude that you currently demonstrate, don’t blame someone else for your problems, take some classes, and listen to your job counselor. By all means, put a trip to the local labor department at the top of your agenda.

Good luck. Let us know how things turn out. Learning from one’s mistakes is a big step toward learning to work with others. That’s what we call WEGO

Barry Hester