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Liz Ryan Contributor

I write about bringing life to work and bringing work to life. full bio →

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

I was a Fortune 500 HR SVP for ten million years, but I was an opera singer before I ever heard the term HR. The higher I got in the corporate world, the more operatic the action became. I started writing about the workplace for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1997, but it took me ages to find my own voice. Now I write for the Huffington Post, Business Week, LinkedIn, the Harvard Business Review, the Denver Post and Forbes.com and lead the worldwide Human Workplace movement to reinvent work for people. Stop by and join us: http://www.humanworkplace.com

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Leadership 207,889 views

Can They Fire Me If I Already Gave Notice?

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Dear Shannon,

So sorry to hear about what you’re going through. You ask a great question. Assuming you’re here in the United States, Gloria can definitely fire you after you give notice. That’s not going to be a problem though, because if she does that, you’ll march down to the unemployment office and file for unemployment.

If it takes you a little while to find a new job, you’ll have your unemployment check to help cushion the blow. If you start consulting right away or have some ongoing clients, your consulting income will be deducted from your unemployment check. If you can rev up the consulting work, you might make more money through consulting than you’d make through unemployment compensation.

If you need the last two weeks’ salary to pay the rent, then don’t give notice at all. Wait until the day you are ready to quit, and just quit and leave. I am sorry to have to give you that advice, Shannon, but look at the facts! You have already heard about a case where Gloria ripped off a former employee by depriving him of his income during the two-week notice period.

That is a horrible story, but it is legal to terminate an employee for almost any reason at all in the U.S., as long as the employer doesn’t discriminate based on race, sex or another protected-class category.

That’s why you may not want to give notice at all. You retain control of your ending date on this job if you keep your departure plans to yourself until the last minute. Gloria will slime you in absentia, but so what — she would do that whether you gave notice or not!

You already know that you are better off leaving Toad Hall at the earliest opportunity. Now the question is, how will you avoid stepping into another Energetic Mismatch the next time?

Here are 10 questions to ask your hiring manager on a job interview. You’ll have a good, substantive conversation asking questions like these, and if your future boss thinks your questions are impertinent or nervy, you’ll know to run away from them and avoid getting toad-slimed the next time!

If you don’t report this six-month job on your resume, employers will not know that you worked there. As you mentioned, you can “fill in the gap” on your resume with your consulting work. Yet another reason why everyone should create and cultivate a consulting persona on the side!

Best of luck in your adventures, Shannon. Once you’ve been bitten by the Bad Manager snake once, it’s going to be very hard for that snake to bite you again!

Onward and upward,

Liz

WATCH: Jill Abramson’s Advice To Those Who Are Mid-Career

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  • Anne Donovan Anne Donovan 1 week ago

    I’ve seen this done where I work. Seems to be perfectly legal. After all you already stated you were leaving, they’re just making you leave earlier.

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  • Jill Jones Jill Jones 1 week ago

    I’m so sorry that you’re having to go through this.

    I have been awarded unemployment benefits after quitting a job, but I was able to show that I had been asked to do something illegal. The old adage, “The one with the longest paper trail wins” rings true at times like this.

    Gloria has shown that she is out of control and capable of essentially anything. She may have a malignant personality disorder or an out of control chemical addiction. At any rate she’s irrational and spiteful.

    In addition to the possibility that a dirty boss could fire you during the two weeks after you give notice, severely abusive managers have been known to go much further. Some have sabotaged their victims to damage their future careers and maybe even have an excuse to file a malicious complaint against them with the employee’s professional licensing board. A favorite of workplace abusers is to sabotage the employee’s new job, so you’re, at least, lucky that she doesn’t know the name of another company that your going to work for.

    If you choose to give the 2 week notice, at least pay attention to her and trust your instincts about whether she’s getting ready to pull something even more evil than usual.

    As others stated, giving a 2 or 4 week notice is a courtesy that we give to employers who have been fair to us, to give them time to cover the position we’re vacating. There’s no law that says we have to do it ( although abandoning the job in the middle of a shift could, in some professions like healthcare, be illegal.) You don’t need to put yourself in danger just to be nice to an abuser. In that case it becomes about our own protection. Sometimes giving an employer notice that we’re quitting immediately, at the end of the last shift we intend to work there is an important safety measure.

    If you don’t plan to include this job on your resume you might state clearly, “Relevant Professional Experience” on your resume in the future, so you’re not doing anything that could be considered dishonest. You might also check your credit report to see if your current job is listed there.

    Good luck

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