Are You About to Lose Your Job?: Six Warning Signs

If you work for a company in Massachusetts, how do you know if you are about to lose your job and that you may need to start considering your options?  Here are five warning signs that may eventually result in an employee filing for unemployment:

(1)   You’ve been put on a performance improvement plan.  By the time an employee is on a performance improvement plan, management has likely had serious discussions about the fit of that employee within the organization.  While management may truly want to give the employee another opportunity to succeed, the reality is that a performance improvement plan may also eventually serve the company’s purpose in documenting that it terminated the employee for performance issues and no other reason.

(2)   You’ve had one or more poor performance evaluations.  Where managers have decided that the employee isn’t meeting expectations and it has been documented in one or more performance evaluations, the employee may eventually be asked to separate from the company.

(3)   You no longer have the skill set for the job.  This is an issue for employees who have been in their position for years and the job requirements have changed.  Many employees in Massachusetts now find that (a) their new job description requires more technical or computer-based skills than ever and (b) younger applicants with stronger skills and lower salary requirements are knocking on the company’s door.

(4)   You are floating on an organizational chart without a job description.  Managers who want to replace an employee may simply move that person aside without a job description.  The employee floats about the organization for a period of time, trying to find a fit until it becomes exceedingly uncomfortable for the employee and the organization and the issue needs to be resolved.

(5)   You have been asked to find another job within the company or you’ve been asked to start a job search. Managers may give an employee a certain period of time to apply for and find another job within the organization.  Alternatively, managers may ask the employee to start looking for another job outside the company and may even send the employee to an outplacement service.

What are an employee’s options in one of these circumstances?  Cases are highly individual and will depend upon the specific facts.  In some cases, although the company claims performance issues, there may other reasons for the company’s actions.  The company may be discriminating upon the basis of age, gender or another protected category.  The company may be retaliating against an employee who has complained about sexual harassment or wage issues.  Depending upon the situation, if the employee is separating from the company, the employee may be able to obtain severance pay and/or negotiate for other benefits in a severance agreement.

Since cases are very fact specific, we cannot give legal advice in this blog.   This post on job loss in Massachusetts is for information only.  If you have questions about the information here, please call employment attorney Maura Greene, Law Office of Maura Greene, Six Beacon St., Suite 205, Boston, MA 02108, at 617-936-1580.  In 2012 the Boston Globe named Maura Greene as one of Boston’s top-rated employment attorneys.