If You Are Fired: Lost Earnings and Non-Competes

<< Page 1: What to do If You're Fired

Varieties of programs are available to unemployed individuals to replace lost income temporarily or even permanently.  The three major income replacement programs offered in the U.S. include:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance
  • Unemployment Insurance
  • Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Additionally, state and local programs offer unemployed individuals and their dependants a number of beneficial options to replacing lost income due to firings not of their own fault.

Other Options for Unemployed Individuals

Aside from the federally funded programs for disabled individuals unable to work, some states offer comprehensive disability benefits programs for individuals.  In addition, some persons elect to participate in private disability insurance plans while working, which they pay into on a regular basis.  Depending on the terms of your situation, you may be eligible to withdraw benefits from these accounts in light of recent unemployment.

For non-disabled workers, there are still hosts of benefit programs that they may qualify for protection under, including:

  • Food stamps from the Department of Agriculture
  • Veterans benefits through Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Supplemental Social Security Income, or SSI
  • Black Lung benefits through the Department of Labor
  • Disaster Unemployment Assistance, or DUA
  • Medicare

Non-Compete Agreements with Former Employers

A growing number of employers are requiring employees to enter into agreement by which they agree they will not work for a direct competitor for set period.  In many cases, employers are concerned about preserving trade secrets and other sensitive business information.  State courts, however, take a varied stance on the legality of non-compete agreements, with some states virtually not recognizing these as legally binding contracts.  Other states, however, will adhere to the guidelines of a non-compete agreement if the terms are deemed reasonable.

A non-compete agreement most likely will be deemed unreasonable if:

  • The time length is too long
  • The geographic area is unreasonably large
  • Does not note what is deemed sensitive information or a trade secret
  • Prevents worker from gaining employment or causes undue hardship
  • Is too broad to be enforceable

Blacklisting in the Workplace

Most states have laws on the books that prevent employers from inhibiting their former employees from obtaining new employment.  Some states even include both criminal and civil penalties against employers who violate these laws.  In addition, employers also run the risk of being hit with a defamation suit in the event of active blacklisting of former employees.

How to Detect Blacklisting

Each state contains their own specific laws regarding blacklisting, which vary greatly.  Proving blacklisting can be difficult for former employees without express concrete evidence showing their former employers actively inhibiting their ability to obtain work.  In some instances, former workers will apply for jobs, be a well-qualified candidate, receive favorable interest from interviewers, and almost get hired, only to abruptly lose the job opportunity.  In addition, whistle blowers could come to former employee’s defense to expose a blacklisting scheme.

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