The majority of employees in Arizona are classified as at-will employees, meaning they can be terminated for almost any reason since they were not employed with a written contract. If an Arizona employer gives you a lawful ultimatum (meaning it is not a wrongful termination) between termination and resignation, there are a number of factors to consider before making your decision.
Resignation vs. Termination
When weighing the benefits of a resigning or being terminated, it is imperative to consider which choice will leave you better off. Factors to consider include things like:
- Eligibility for unemployment compensation
- The potential for a severance package
- Benefits available via either option
- What you will be permitted to say in a future job interview(s)
- Whether the company will give you recommendations/how the company would describe a termination to a potential employer
A Termination Ultimatum Requires Careful Consideration
Making this decision will require time, talking to an Arizona employment lawyer and doing your own due diligence. As such, if your employer comes to you with this ultimatum, do not give an immediate response in the heat of an emotionally charged moment.
Ask for a bit of time instead. Most employers will certainly be willing to accommodate this request since they did not come to you and fire you outright. In addition to considering the aforementioned factors, there are additional questions worth asking.
One of the most important questions to ask, assuming you want to stay, is whether there is any way to keep the job. If the ultimatum is not being given for performance reasons, there may be a chance the job can be saved. For example, if you are being let go because of budget cuts, consider whether the salary can be renegotiated. Alternatively, if their unhappiness is performance based, see if you can negotiate the implementation of a performance plan.
If, however, there truly are no other options, then see if your resignation itself is up for negotiation. See what the company is willing to offer you in order to get you to resign. Even if a severance package was not initially on the table, it may in the employer’s best interests to offer a quality severance package to make a quieter exit.
Additionally, ask about collecting unemployment or having your health benefits continued for some time after the resignation. In short, so long as your termination is not for cause or poor performance, you may have some advantages in the negotiation process to further the incentive for a quiet resignation.
Make Sure Your Employee Rights Are Protected
If you are unsure of your employee rights, talk to your employer’s HR department and a Phoenix employment lawyer. The HR department is still required to answer your questions regarding your benefits eligibility and how the resignation/termination process will proceed. Your lawyer will be able to help you navigate whether you are being wrongfully terminated or discriminated against.
If you are being delivered an unlawful ultimatum because the termination would be wrongful, you may be able to sue the employer. Arizona law provides four circumstances where it is permitted to sue for wrongful termination. These four circumstances are as follows:
- The employer terminates an employee in a way that violates a written employment contract.
- The employer terminates a worker for discriminatory reasons, which violate state and/or federal anti-discrimination laws.
- You engaged in legally protected conduct — whistle-blowing, refusing to do something illegal, etc. — and the employer’s threat to terminate is retaliation for this lawful conduct.
- You are a public sector employee, and your employer violated specific public sector rights granted by the constitution, state statute, government regulations or government contracts.
In summary, whether termination or resignation is right for you will depend on the specifics of precisely what is being offered. If you have any doubt whatsoever as to the best course of action, schedule a legal consultation with a Phoenix employment lawyer who will help you navigate these complexities.