Getting Fired: How To Be Terminated From a Job Instead of Quitting

Ben Allen  | 

Getting fired, laid off, and quitting are all different paths to the same end; losing your job. However, each one has their own logic and consequences. If you are looking for a way out of your job, but don’t want to quit, the only other option is getting terminated in some way.

Laid Off Vs Fired Vs Terminated

First off, the term “terminated” simply means that an employee is no longer employed by the business. It can be used if the employee quits (voluntary termination) or is forced to leave the company (involuntary termination).

Being laid off is different from getting fired. Being laid off is a form of involuntary termination, but it’s generally a financial decision made by the company, not a behavior or performance choice made by the employee. The company is choosing to terminate an employee to lower their payroll expenses, or because of a strategic staffing change. At times, being laid off is accompanied with a severance package. This typically covers your salary and/or healthcare benefits for several months so you have time to find a new job.

Being fired is a form of involuntary termination, usually for behavioral or performance problems. Typically, that means multiple warnings have been issued about a person’s actions and specific reasons behind the firing. In other situations, a person may be summarily fired, or fired on the spot; this usually only happens for the most egregious violations of company policy, including criminal activity at work. Rarely do fired employees receive a severance package or termination pay, but it depends on company policy and circumstances.

Termination With Cause and Wrongful Termination

Where you live impacts how and why employers can terminate their employees. Some states allow employers to terminate an employment agreement at any time for any reason, or even no reason at all. Other states require specific conditions for termination, including a record of employee wrong doings. Learning what your state’s laws are about termination is important, especially if you feel like you could get fired for the wrong reasons.

Regardless where you live though, if you think you were fired for discriminatory reasons (including but not limited to: gender, race, disabilities or similar factors) you could potentially sue for wrongful termination. For a successful lawsuit though, you will need evidence of discrimination in the workplace. This can be in the form of HR reports, emails, text messages, direct messages, coworker testimonies and more.

Is it Better to Quit or be Fired?

Everybody’s situation is unique, but in the terms of claiming unemployment and gaining extra benefits, it’s best to be laid off or fired. If you quit, you don’t get any kind of severance or termination pay, and it’s much harder to collect unemployment from the government.

Can You Collect Unemployment if You Are Fired?

When you are laid off or fired, you will likely be eligible to collect government unemployment assistance because your source of income with unexpectedly cut off. Unless you did something criminal or egregious to get fired, if you were involuntarily terminated you can normally get some unemployment assistance.

Can You Collect Unemployment if You Quit?

It is possible to collect unemployment if you quit from your job, but only for very specific reasons. If you blindly quit just to look for a new job, with no other reasons, you won’t be covered.

There are quite a few reasons to collect unemployment after a voluntary termination. For example, if you are “forced to quit” because of a hostile work environment or unrealistic work conditions, harassment or violence towards you, having to take care of a loved one, medical and health reasons, even quitting for a new job that ends up not hiring you, you can collect unemployment.

Reasons to Get Fired

Why Would You Want To Be Fired?

There are some reasons why you wouldn’t want to quit your job, but instead get fired. The biggest reason is being able to collect unemployment, especially if you have no leads on a new job. The other suitable reason is if your company offers severance or termination pay. For example, some companies will pay a month’s worth of salary for every year a person has been employed. This may be preferable to trying to get unemployment after quitting.

Outside of these reasons, getting fired has a lot of negative consequences. You leave the business on unfavorable terms, meaning future employers are less likely to view you positively, and you are likely unable to ask for reference. Quitting on good terms can help salvage those relationships, and preserve your ability to get references, or even network with coworkers and supervisors. It also lets you control when you become unemployed, meaning you can better prepare for it.

Common Reasons Why People Get Fired

If you are truly dedicated to getting fired, you need to do it the right way. Don’t take the “Office Space” approach and make it completely obvious you want to get fired, as you’ll likely not receive unemployment or termination benefits.

If you are looking to get fired, below is a list of common ways people get terminated from a company. If you are looking to not get fired, the below list is a good way to avoid involuntary termination.

Valid reasons for getting fired include:

  • Theft: Stealing supplies or time from the company
  • Lying
  • Bullying/Harassment: Get enough reports to HR about hurtful behavior, both emotional or physical, will lead to termination
  • Incompetence/Underperformance: Typically, consistently doing poorly in your work, or doing it not up to standards, even after extra training or help, will lead eventually to termination. This can also include unprofessional behavior towards customers if you work in customer service.
  • Attendance Issues: Being chronically late, leaving early without permission, or not showing up to work at all
  • Abusing Breaks: Taking too many breaks, going to the bathroom too often, taking too long of breaks, taking personal phone calls during work hours
  • Substance abuse: Drinking during work hours, taking illegal or performance affecting drugs, failing drug test, being under the influence of drugs-legal or illegal during work hours.
  • Abuse of technology: Looking at porn, online shopping, playing games/watching media, social media, personal emails, compromising company equipment due to unsafe practices, using personal phone for unauthorized activities
  • Unprofessional behavior or appearance: Being rude to customers, representing the company in a unprofessional manner either online or in person, poor hygiene after multiple warnings, not following dress code, dressing in unsafe clothing for work conditions.

This isn’t a comprehensive list of every reason a person can get fired, but it does cover the most common reasons. Depending on the company, the job, the state, and more, there are other reasons why you could get fired. Be aware of your employer’s policies and history when it comes to fireable offenses so you can either protect yourself or utilize it to get terminated. Just be sure that if you are trying to get fired that you have a plan for afterwards, including getting a new job.


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Ben Allen is a freelance content creator and digital marketer who believes in helping small businesses succeed. He spends his free time bragging about his two daughters, eating stuffed crust pizza, and playing video games.

This post was updated August 14, 2018. It was originally published July 17, 2018.