Tips for When You Are Forced To Resign

A forced resignation is when there is pressure on you to leave your job. This can have an effect on your future career as well as your self-esteem. In some circumstances, being forced to resign is illegal, and some employment discrimination laws can protect employees if they have been forced to resign.

Forced resignation occurs when an employer intends to end their relationship with an employee due to different reasons. In some cases, the employer may push you to agree with the decision by assigning you more minor responsibilities and meaningless work.

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What is a forced resignation?

A forced resignation is when a company asks you to resign. The company might give you a choice to either resign or be terminated. In other cases, the company could ask you to resign with no other option.

There are many reasons a company might ask you to go through a forced resignation. Not every company offers a forced resignation when ending employment terms, but it can be a beneficial option for you. Here are some instances where you may go through a forced resignation:

Tips for when you are forced to resign

You can follow these tips in the event you are forced to resign from a role:

Ask questions to professional sources

A forced resignation can be challenging, but you can often rely on a human resources professional to guide you through the process. They can explain the next steps and help you as you transition out of your position. A human resource professional can also assist if you have any outstanding benefits owed to you by the company, such as paid time off or sick time. They should also be able to help you with transitioning any retirement accounts or stock accounts, if applicable.

You can also get help from outside the company if you have further questions about your forced resignation. Labor lawyers and the US Department of Labor are additional resources for questions.

Agree about the terms of your departure

You can ask your management team about the logistics of your last day and when it will be. This will be helpful information if you decide to write a forced resignation letter. You can also ask about returning equipment and other company property, like ID badges. Its helpful to get in writing who to return these items to and when. If you have to turn in company property, like a laptop, ensure it is free of personal documents or folders and that you have saved any items you need from it.

Part of the logistics process should involve meeting with your manager about pending projects and their completion dates. If you cannot finish them, work out a plan or schedule for their completion after your departure with your leadership team.

Ensure you align with the company on the reason for your departure. This question might come up during future interviews, and if new employers check in with your former company, consider confirming that you and your company both have the same response about why you left.

Find out about severance packages

A company can sometimes offer a severance package at the time of the forced resignation, which might depend on why you were forced to resign. The severance package could include severance pay, health, dental and vision insurance or other continued benefits for a period after your departure. You can ask your manager or human resource professional for information and if this applies to your specific case.

Learn about the unemployment process

You might qualify for unemployment with a forced resignation. An HR representative might be able to tell you if your case qualifies. If their office cant assist you, then you can work with your state unemployment office to learn about the process. They can tell you if your case qualifies and help you apply for benefits as well.

Get references and referrals for jobs

With a forced resignation, it can be uncertain how your company might handle a reference if a potential employer reaches out to them. In most cases, companies can only confirm employment start and end dates and not why you left. Instead of asking your manager or HR representative for a reference, you can talk to colleagues to see if they would be willing to provide a reference if you need it. Colleagues could also give you a referral or lead on other jobs they have heard about.

Write a forced resignation letter

A forced resignation letter explains why you are leaving the company and also why the company has forced you to resign. Writing a forced resignation letter allows you to share your perspective with the company while going through a challenging situation. It is important to keep the letter professional, clear and concise.

You can cover logistics like any work that you owe the company, such as reports or papers. You can also include anything the company owes you, such as paid time off or sick time. Explain why the company forced you to resign in a straightforward manner.

Update your resume and cover letter

Update your resume and cover letter while your current work role is still recent in your memory. Your resume is the first professional document a recruiter or hiring manager sees when they consider applications, and ensuring it is up to date with new projects and responsibilities can make you a viable candidate for your next job.

Consider the positive

In some cases, a forced resignation may be due to a company not being able to afford the position any longer or no longer requiring the role. No matter the circumstances of the forced resignation, it is important to not blame yourself. Consider a forced resignation as a step forward in your career by using it as an opportunity to move on to a different role or company that could be a better fit for you.


Is forced resignation considered termination?

Legally, constructive discharge is a form of termination because you were forced to quit against your will. If you are forced to resign, you should be able to receive unemployment benefits. You are also able to file a complaint with the EEOC.

Why would someone be forced to resign?

The decision may be a purely financial one, as a means of reducing payroll, or it may be based on a variety of other factors, such a poor performance or a working style that doesn’t fit well with your company’s culture. Whatever the reason, the employee can be fired or asked to resign in lieu of termination.

Is it better to be fired or forced to resign?

It’s theoretically better for your reputation if you resign because it makes it look like the decision was yours and not your company’s. However, if you leave voluntarily, you may not be entitled to the type of unemployment compensation you might be able to receive if you were fired.

What happens if I refuse to resign?

Employment-at-Will Situations

That said, if you absolutely refuse to resign, your boss can fire you. The exception is when your employment is subject to a a formal agreement or a labor union contract that affords employees more due process prior to termination.

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