I've been fired from my job because of personality clash with one of the employees. My work was more than satisfactory.

I was told that my probation was being extended (this is my 5th month now) by the end of the 3rd month. The conversation was vague, my manager didn't give me a solid reason and I'd assumed that it was passed on. So basically, I worked like a dummy (this last project was a critical one), gave up on job search or everything else, not knowing I was (or considered to be) on probation.

I am now asked to

  • work and get paid for 2 more weeks till I finish the project;
  • sign a letter accepting this situation.

I'm bitter about the probation and the letter refers to it.

I'm now wondering:

a) What happens if I don't sign anything while I'm leaving, am I liable?

b) Am I supposed to produce further work? I mean: do more on the project and even finish it? I'll be fully transferring it. However, "working on the project still before" is something else.

My manager is giving me reference -- I don't want to jeopardize this. What position would I be putting him in if I go this way? I worry that denying probation will reflect on him since he was the one telling me that. However, I lived in this, worked, told people thinking that I was being appreciated. Signing it would be falsifying myself and the situation is heavy on my professional dignity as is.


I signed the letter, making and initializing a note on it that says something like "i wasn't aware that I was in probation, never heard back to my inquiry .. ". all went smooth. in touch w/my manager.

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    "my manager is giving me reference-- I don't want to jeopardize this" Is this the most important part of your post? If so, then an answer is easy: you need to do what the manager has asked you to do. – Kent A. Oct 24 '16 at 3:46
  • @KentA.thanks for the comment, it may still be worth it and i'm not 100% sure of my manager now. what i'm wondering now is what would happen if I don't sign? am I liable for anything? – user6762070 Oct 24 '16 at 4:01
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    For the question a), you should ask a lawyer, familiar with the laws of the country where you reside, and who could get to know the specifics of your work contract. Not ask the internet at large. – clem steredenn Oct 24 '16 at 5:49
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    It sounds strange to me that they can extend probation unilaterally, I bet that isn't what your contract says. Don't sign anything and talk to a lawyer. – RemcoGerlich Oct 24 '16 at 7:36
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    "What happens if I don't sign anything while I'm leaving, am I liable?" - liable for what? – WorkerDrone Oct 24 '16 at 13:06

You are in a critical situation in which it is very important to play your cards to optimize your career prospects going forward. Revenge for anything you resent about your current employer's behavior has to be put aside so you can concentrate on your own best interests.

Given that your employer still wants something from you, you may have a little leverage.

The most important objective should be to establish how you, and your manager, are going to frame your departure from your current job in talking to future employers. You need consistency between your statements and your manager's reference.

Aim for something along the lines of "My employer decided during the probation period that I was not a good long term fit, but still wanted me to stay on for a couple of weeks to finish up a project.". That shows that you were not fired for incompetence and retained your employer's trust. When you have reached an understanding on how to frame the situation, make sure the letter matches that understanding, and negotiate changes if it does not.

The two weeks work is a win-win. They get the project finished. You get two weeks of paid time to get your job search started. Depending on how fast the job search moves, you may need time off for interviews.

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The lesson I would take from this, if probation is being extended in the future, ask for what it is that you need to demonstrate, and for this to be documented in the meeting.

Your probation period has a notice period. Are they giving you more notice than you are entitled to, to finish the project? If so, fighting it won't help. They will just terminate on minimum notice.

In most cases, the whole point of a probationary period in law, is that the employer can remove staff quickly and easily without having to demonstrate good reason.

It may be worth asking HR to review the case, just to make sure they are satisfied correct process is being followed.

Likewise, depending on the size of the company, If it is simply a personality clash with one team member, it is also worth asking if you can transfer into a different team.

The key here is to quickly accept that your time with this company is ending, and you need to focus on securing all the income available from this role, whilst starting the process of finding your next role.

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So you would consider something possibly illegal to retaliate for a situation that you misunderstood...

That's probably going to come off worse on your professional image than having misunderstood the situation.

Being fired isn't an easy thing, and working to the end of it, isn't much better. You might want to read your contract and all written documents (the only ones that count) to get a better grasp of the situation. Yet you have only few options:

  • try to force your way to stay. Fight against the probation, and save your situation.
  • close the door, go away, and never look back.
  • take it on you as lessons learned. Work until the end of the two weeks and get your resume in shape for a new job.

For the first option: do you really want to stay in a company, where you feel you've been cheated? And forcing your way to stay is probably not going to improve your image within the company. Plus they will probably use any opportunity to make you leave.

The second, might feel tempting. But that's called burning bridges. It means that any further professional relationship with anyone involved (company, people), would be awkward at best. Plus you should also consider that these people know other people. You might get some satisfaction, but you certainly won't save your professional image.

The third option is probably the most accepted one. You take the loss gracefully. And accept that you misunderstood something. In the future you'll make sure to always know where you stand. If, as you say, it's due to a personality difference with a single person, acting in a professional manner, would open various possibilities. One of them, being the reference provided by your boss.

As for the question whether it is legal, do check with a lawyer.

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  • I would fight to stay longer if there is a possibility. Sure there is probably no long-term future there, but much better to do a job search while employed, and avoid having a firing on your career history. – user45590 Oct 24 '16 at 8:10
  • was after getting out of there safely, fighting it was never my intention. I liked the manager there, that's why I stayed this long. – user6762070 Oct 24 '16 at 17:35

Never sign something you don't understand. For this reason, nobody here can, with good conscience, recommend you sign that letter we haven't seen.

The probation period should be stated in your work contract. A change to the probation period is a change to your work contract, which requires a legal document with the signature of both you and your employer - that is to say, your probation was never extended, unless you previously violated the first sentence of this answer. They may want you to sign a document that changes this retroactively.

However, by fighting your termination you will most definitely jeopardize their reference. If you absolutely must have a good reference, there's no other option than to do as they say. That doesn't mean you get a great reference or even a decent reference if you don't fight them.

Regarding your other questions:

1) Not signing a termination agreement generally doesn't make you liable for damages. When in doubt about the contents of a document you're supposed to sign, you can provide a simplified alternative, e.g: "I acknowledge being told by X.Y on Oct 1. 2016 that I'm being let go." This avoids some pitfalls. By acknowledging instead of agreeing, you're not accidentally giving up any of your rights. By not stating a termination date you're not agreeing to an earlier termination date than what Canadian law (which I'm not familiar with) sets by default.

2) You are supposed to deliver work while you're being paid, unless the company doesn't want you to. It's one of the things references are asked about. There is the option to show up and not perform any work, in which case the company still has to pay you, but that's considered to be unethical.

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  • my manager verbally said today that I no longer have to come to work, and can work on my own projects etc. "working as before" was on the letter. transferred all the material, shook hands, got out. heard/said nothing negative in those lines. – user6762070 Oct 24 '16 at 17:51

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