What can you do to protect yourself if you might get fired?

A lot of people who call Gold Star Law are calling because they think they are about to be fired and want to know what they can do.  Sometimes they keep getting called into meetings with human resources, or with supervisors, and get disciplined about their performance.  Sometimes they see a lot of people around them getting fired and think they may be next.  Sometimes their supervisors have started avoiding them or ignoring them in a way that makes them think something is up.  Whatever the reason, it is not uncommon at all for people to call us and ask “What can I do if I think I’m about to be fired?”

The first question we have when people ask us what they can do to protect themselves if they think they are about to be fired is why. Why do you think that and, more importantly, why do they want to fire you?  Michigan is an at-will state, which means that generally, you can be fired for any reason or no reason at all, as long as you are not fired for an illegal reason.  Illegal reasons for firing someone in Michigan include discrimination on the basis of sex, race, age, and other certain traits, and retaliation for having engaged in certain activities such as making a complaint about certain unlawful practices.

If you believe that your employer is setting you up to be fired for an illegal reason, our first and best advice is to document everything.  Say, for example, you complained about not getting overtime pay.  That type of complaint is protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and it is illegal to fire someone for making that type of complaint.  Now, your employer keeps giving you write-ups for things that everyone else does all the time, and you think they are laying the groundwork to fire you.  The best thing you can do is make and keep detailed records.  Make sure, if you have not already, that you have written proof of your complaint regarding overtime pay.  If your complaint was in writing, keep a copy.  If your complaint was not in writing, send an email or other writing to follow-up, so you can prove that you did make the complaint if your employer later disputes it.  Also keep documentation to show that you are being “set up,” if you can.  In addition to the write-ups themselves, it is helpful to have written evidence showing that the write-ups are either false or wrongful in some way.

If you believe that you are about to be fired for an illegal reason, or if you have already been fired for an illegal reason, call Gold Star Law for help.