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How to Appeal a Termination of Employment

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When you find out that you've lost your job or have been terminated, it can be a very dark day indeed. Take immediate action by building a case that you were wrongfully terminated. It's not the easiest thing to do, but you may be able to to appeal that termination and get reinstated. This can happen when a supervisor doesn't follow the proper protocols for firing you, or you're a member of a union or government agency that offers special protection for its workers.

Ask for the termination information in writing. If you plan to file an appeal, you'll need to know exactly why you were fired. That can include asking the employer to state specifically the terms of the termination, as well as the main reason you were let go.

Document all stages of the process. In some rare cases, it may come out that you were terminated due to discrimination based on your race, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or for being part of another protected class. If that's the case, you may have grounds to file a complaint or lawsuit with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Write down all of the details of your termination and working conditions, so you'll have as much information as possible to share with an attorney.

Check your employee handbook or the employer's human resources web page to determine whether the company has an appeals process. If you don't find anything, inquire with your company's human resources department, and then follow any instructions they give you to the letter. This is where that documentation can also come in handy; some companies may require managers to follow a specific protocol before terminating you – such as giving you a series of warnings – and if they don't, you may have grounds to keep your job. If you're allowed to file this type of appeal, be sure to stay professional, state just the facts and don't use any inflammatory language about the supervisor who fired you or other employees; the idea here is to maintain good relations and get you back to work.

Talk to the highest authority possible if you work in a smaller company with no human resources department or there's no formal appeal process in place. Ask for a meeting with the owner or CEO, and then present the facts as you know them in a professional manner.

If you are a member of a union be sure to check with the union supervisor. Your union may need to be involved in any termination negotiations or appeals in order for you to get your job back. Stay in contact and follow the union's guidelines. In order for a union to be effective, its officials have to show they're being fair and following the letter of the law – so you need to do the same.


If you feel you've been terminated due to discrimination, find a local attorney who can counsel you on the case, and then follow her instructions for what to do next.


Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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