1. Do you work for a public entity (the federal government, state government, local government, school district, hospital district, etc.)? If not, then:

2. Do you have a written employment agreement such as an offering letter, an actual contract, a collective bargaining agreement? If not, then:

3. Do you have an employee policy manual that actually indicates you have the right to certain procedures before being fired? (This is very rare, by the way).

IF NOT, then:

A. You are likely among the majority of Americans who have no “right” to continued employment.

B. This is true even if you have done an excellent job and have stellar performance evaluations and reviews.

C. The exception is if you have actual evidence that your termination was based upon a protected status. This is also fairly rare.

Review the facts before calling an attorney. Be honest with yourself. Termination from employment is difficult, disappointing, and financially crushing. However, an attorney will want the facts before meeting with you, and may require $100 to $250 just to meet and review your facts.

Review your payroll records. Ensure that you were properly paid, including prompt payment by the next payroll cycle for your final wages, and any benefits that you are entitled to be paid even after termination. (This often does not include vacation pay, sick pay, and other benefits except in special cases).

Cheaper counseling, to tell your story and get it off your chest, is available. Talk to a therapist (usually less expensive, often more effective in this situation).

If you remain convinced that your termination was wrongful, gather ALL of your documents. Write to your employer, and send your letter by certified mail, requesting a fully copy of your employment file (including any supervisor’s files). You also have the right to request a written reason for your termination. Keep a signed copy of your letter, and staple the green mailing receipt to it when you receive it back from the post office.

If you truly believe your termination was wrongful, and you believe it was discriminatory, IMMEDIATELY report your belief and the evidence supporting it to the EEOC or state HRC. Both have excellent websites.

After securing your administrative rights by filing your discrimination complaint, contact experienced employment counsel. Do not make a bad impression by calling before you have taken the above steps. The factual, direct, concise approach will be more compelling to your potential counsel.

Be honest concerning any problems with your case. If you had numerous warnings about being late, or absent, or with your performance…say so. Otherwise, you will simply waste your time and the attorney’s. This will not make your case impossible, but it is something that must be dealt with immediately. Your attorney cannot confront what s/he is unaware needs to be managed.