Termination vs resignation? I work for the state and they currently are investigating me for not following a policy. I assume a termination is coming. If I resign now, I lose income even sooner than if I wait to be terminated. What repercussion exist for being fired from a state/govt position? Any different than other jobs?

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    You work for a government and there is a chance you will be fired? Which Country are you in? – user86403 May 15 '18 at 17:41
  • United States. Yes they have fired two employees before me for similar offense. So I’m told... – E. Y. May 15 '18 at 17:46

There are pluses and minuses to either to option

  1. Termination: looks bad on the resume and/or references. That's even more the case for a government job, since they are perceived of having a lot of protection in place. On the plus side, you may qualify for severance and/or unemployment benefits, but that depends whether you are terminated "for cause" or not.
  2. Resign: looks better on the resume and negative references are little less damaging since they are less relevant. Financially you are on your own.
  3. Wait it out: It's entirely possible that you are overreacting and you are not getting fired and one (or even none) of the other disciplinary actions will happen.

What to do then ?

  1. Start looking for a new job RIGHT NOW. Not tomorrow, not in an hour, but RIGHT NOW. Your chances of landing something quickly are much higher while you are still employed. It's hard to tell how "bad" your infraction was, but if a small-ish problem can get you fired, you don't have much a future there anyway.
  2. Talk to a layer and/or union rep. Government agencies have lots of rules an regulations about this sort of thing, and you probably have some non-trivial rights. Make sure you know them all, so can make informed decisions if needed.
  3. Consider cutting a deal: After consulting someone knowledgeable (see item 2) you could approach your employer with a "mutually beneficial" solution. Terminating people is time consuming, expensive, and no fun at all. You could offer them to quit voluntarily in return for something good: severance pay, a reasonably neutral reference, garden leave, etc. Unless you are REALLY experienced at this, you would need professional help to coach you through the negotiations.
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To be honest the repercussions would be enormous for two reasons:

  1. You were trusted to do a public service job
  2. It's normally impossible to get canned, even incompetent people in the government sector. Therefore getting canned would mean you did something really, really, really bad and should be avoided.

So I think quitting is the best option if you can.

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  • I keep hearing how hard it is to be fired from a state job, yet here we are. I have a perfect work record, personal life, etc. This is my first offense. The protocol for not following this policy is written reprimand, suspension or termination. I did not knowingly violate this policy. A coworker turned me in for falsifying a record. It was the only record in which this happened, my error was deleted but the whistleblower and subsequent management, is stating the documentation should have never been made in the first place. All coworkers are shocked. This was common practice in our office. – E. Y. May 15 '18 at 17:30
  • Yes, I'm sure people get terminated from government jobs just as much as the commercial sector. Point is though, there is a stigma that it is impossible to get terminated so folks will read into it and assume you must have done something really bad to get terminated. Either way you have options now, but none in the future. – Dan May 15 '18 at 17:43

What repercussion exist for being fired from a state/govt position?

Being fired from any position is bad, and depending on the circumstances could be damning to your career. If you resign, this allows you to put your own spin on your departure with out lying in regards to being fired.

Another thing for you to consider is in most states if you quit you do not get un-employment, whereas if your fired you usually do.

Seems like your in a tough spot, but if you have marketable skills consider rolling the dice and resigning versus having the blemish of being fired.


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It's not going to make a lot of difference. Your next few employers are going to want a reference from your current job, and the reference they give you will say:

"Harper james resigned on [some date]. At the time he was under investigation for "not following a policy".

Everyone reading that will assume you are guilty.

Being fired from a government position is going to be interpreted as you having screwed up in a big way. And they will find out what the reason was when they read your reference.

You should of course have checked what the normal punishment for "not following a policy" is. Your boss is likely to have an idea of what it is.

If the punishment is not automatically termination then you might be better off pleading/negotiating for a lesser punishment than quitting. If you are 'being investigated' then you usually get to have some input into the investigation, which might include providing reasons why you should not be terminated as well as reasons why you might be innocent.

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  • I did check. First offense is written reprimand, suspension or termination. It could be any of the three. My direct supervisor is staying tight lipped as it has gone above her head and is being decided on by the directors. – E. Y. May 15 '18 at 17:26
  • Downvoted and accepted. That's a first for me. – DJClayworth May 15 '18 at 19:34
  • @E.Y. they are not following the correct procedures for a discipline case that is a bit of a red flag - did you not speak to the union about this. – Neuromancer May 16 '18 at 10:40
  • There is no union for this position. Also, I am new to this site. I did not purposefully “down vote” anyone. I appreciate any and all advice. – E. Y. May 16 '18 at 21:37

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