Q: I was recently terminated and am unclear of the reason. When I asked why during my very abrupt Zoom termination meeting, I was told “we think it is best to part ways.” What does that mean? Am I eligible to collect unemployment? I have never had this happen to me before. How are reference checks usually handled when an employee is terminated?
A: I am sorry that you were recently terminated and are now confused as a result. I am not sure if I can tell you why you were terminated. I think only your employer can provide that information. It is unfortunate that you are not aware of the reason. Companies usually will provide this information but they are not required to. In Massachusetts, and many other states, employment for most of us is “at-will.” What this means is that the employee can leave a position at any time for any reason. And conversely, the employer can terminate the relationship for any reason or no reason at all.
Assuming you work in Massachusetts, you should have been provided information on how to collect unemployment assistance. I have attached a link to the information – https://www.mass.gov/doc/how-to-apply-for-unemployment-insurance-benefits-form-0590a/download. Contact the Massachusetts Division of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) by phone or by visiting them in person. Before contacting them, you should have specific information ready and available to provide to them. This information is outlined in the link provided. Usually, most Massachusetts workers who are terminated are eligible for unemployment benefits. However, the DUA makes the final decision with respect to eligibility for benefits.
Each employer handles references checks on former employees differently. You may want to contact your former employer to ask them about their specific policy. More and more companies are providing only a confirmation that the former employee worked for this employer, the specific dates of employment, and perhaps the job title(s) held by the former employee. Sometimes the former employer will provide more information. It is important for you to know this information before you begin your job search.
Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.