Five Things Fired Employees Need to Know

Getting fired can be terribly stressful.  Usually there is emotional and financial fall out from a firing.  It can be hard to know to know how to deal with it.  Here are five things employees who are fired or laid off from their jobs in Massachusetts need to know.

1.   The company’s reason for the firing or lay-off.  The employee needs to know if the decision was for performance issues, lack of work, misconduct, or for any other reason.  Why is this important?  If the employer gives conflicting or false reasons for the firing or lay-off, it raises the question about the real reason for the company’s decision.  The employer’s reason may also affect the individual’s unemployment benefits.  If the company states that the employee was fired for misconduct, the employee may have a difficult time obtaining unemployment benefits.

2.  The amount owed for wages and vacation pay.  In Massachusetts, employees who have been fired or laid off from work must be paid all wages owed on their last day. This includes accrued vacation pay.   Disputes often arise about commissions owed.  Employees who work on a commission basis should keep a copy of any commission plan.  We can help you recover unpaid wages and commissions.  If you were an independent contractor, it is likely you have other rights.  Call us at 617-936-1580  or email at to find out about your rights. We actually answer the phone and we’re friendly!

3.  Continuation of health insurance coverage.   A federal statute known as COBRA gives employees in a company with 20 employees or more the option to continue health and dental benefits following termination of employment.  Massachusetts has a “mini-COBRA” law that covers companies with less than 20 employees.  The law requires that employees who are fired or laid off receive a notice about their rights to continue their health insurance coverage.  The Health Connector website also has valuable information for employees on health care coverage in Massachusetts.

4.  How to file for unemployment insurance benefits.  Employers in Massachusetts are required to give employees who are separating from the company a brochure that describes how to apply for unemployment insurance benefits.   If your employer has not provided you with the brochure after termination of employment, you can find information on filing a claim on Labor and Workforce Development’s website.

5.  Whether you can negotiate severance pay or other benefits. A company may offer a fired or laid off employee severance pay.  If you haven’t been offered severance pay, you should call us at 617-936-1580 or email at to find out if it is possible. We’re friendly and we answer all calls.  We can help you assess whether your proposed severance package and the terms of the agreement are fair.  Are you leaving valuable pay and/or benefits on the table when you sign the agreement?  Will it restrict your ability to get employment in the future?   A severance agreement is a binding contract.  In our experience, it is difficult for an employee to know what is a deal-breaker.  We know what’s unreasonable and can advise you.

While these are some important issues to keep in mind for termination of employment, individual cases do vary.   If you have been fired or laid off from your job and you need to speak to an employment attorney, call Boston employment lawyer Maura Greene at 6179361580 or contact us by email at We don’t speak legal jargon.  We’re friendly and want to find out how we can help you.  Maura Greene was named in 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013  by the Boston Globe and FortuneMagazine as a top-rated employment attorney.   In 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013 she was included on the list of Super Lawyers,  based upon peer review ratings and record of achievement.  Boston employment lawyer Maura Greene been quoted in the Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette on employment matters.  Law Office of Maura Greene, LLC, Six Beacon Street, Suite 2015, Boston, MA 02108, 617-936-1580.