How to Explain Wrongful Termination on a Resume or Job Application

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A wrongful termination can sting long after the initial shock, especially if you have to rehash the matter while seeking new How to Explain Wrongful Termination on a Resume or Job Applicationemployment. If you are wondering how to address a wrongful termination on a resume, on a job application, or in an interview, our attorneys can help you. At Smithey Law Group LLC, our knowledgeable employment attorneys resolve employment disputes and can help employees recover what they deserve and move on after an unlawful discharge. 

The First Thing You Should Know About Job-seeking After Getting Fired

Honesty is paramount when addressing past firings with potential employers, but do not volunteer information for which no one asked. If an employer asks you to discuss past firings or disciplinary actions against you, tell the truth and tell it with tact, especially since a lie (“big” or “small”) could put you at risk of losing another job. But if a potential employer does not ask you about losing a job or being disciplined, there is no need to address those matters. 

Do I Include a Wrongful Termination on a Resume? 

Whether you need to note on your resume that you have been terminated in the past depends on the type of resume an employer requests. If a job posting only requests a resume without directions about what it must include, you can provide a resume that highlights your relevant job history and experience without mentioning any terminations. If an employer’s posting requires you to include why you left each position you listed or whether you have been fired, you need to provide truthful answers to the requests. 

Do I Have to Talk About a Wrongful Termination on a Job Application or in an Interview? 

Once again, you do not need to speak about a termination unless you are asked. If you are asked, you need to tell the truth about a past firing. However, you can still advocate for yourself and how you are a good fit for the position you are seeking. So, let’s discuss the best ways to prepare for and questions about a termination. 

Explaining a Wrongful Termination

Depending on the circumstances of a separation from a past position, there are multiple steps you should take to give yourself the best chance of getting a new job. These steps include doing research and preparing your answers. 

Understand the Official Reason for Your Termination

If you have legal access to employer documents regarding your termination, keep copies for yourself (if you can) and study the exact reason why you were let go. It is important to understand the official reason for your firing because an interviewer or hiring manager may contact your former employer to confirm the nature of your termination. 

Under Maryland law, a former employer can avoid liability for defamation when discussing your employment history if the employer acts in good faith. The law presumes that a former employer who discusses your termination acts in good faith if the following apply

  • The employer does not act with actual malice toward you; and 
  • The employer does not intentionally or recklessly disclose false information about you. 

If you were the target of a wrongful termination and won a case against your employer, a former employer will likely want to be extra careful about not appearing malicious or dishonest about your history. Consult with your attorney and then consult with your employer’s human resources department to understand its stance regarding discussing your legal dispute. Once you understand your employer’s stance, you can tailor your responses on applications and in interviews accordingly. 

Make Sure Your Answers Stick to the Questions Asked

Pay close attention to the exact question a potential employer asks you about being terminated and answer with only as much information as that question requires. Do not include more unfavorable details about a wrongful termination than are specifically requested. If an interviewer needs to know more about your involuntary discharge, it is their responsibility to follow up. 

Highlight the Positives Regarding Your Former Work

Provide succinct and necessary information regarding the negative aspects of a discharge and then shift to discussing positive facts about the previous work you have done. If your termination occurred because of a mistake you made, tell the interviewer or hiring manager about how you have corrected your behavior and what you have learned. If you had a lot of strengths at your former position that would help your new employer, discuss those.

Determine Whether You Have an Ally from Your Previous Job and Ask Them for Help

Employee terminations are not always unanimous decisions among management, and sometimes other employees understand when a firing is unfair. If you know that a former supervisor did not agree with your termination or a former coworker had a high opinion of your skills and work ethic, see if they are willing to provide you with a letter of recommendation or reference. If you have an ally from your former job, offer that person as a reference for an interviewer or on an application.

Having an outside opinion that can highlight your strengths in the position you lost can help diminish a new employer’s apprehension about hiring you. Please note that it is often easier to request this type of favor from a former supervisor or coworker who no longer works for the business that fired you. You also want to make sure that the individual you ask for help knows how to speak professionally and diplomatically about your previous employer. 

Do Not Badmouth Your Former Employer 

Even if your former employer discharged you unlawfully, do not spend your time speaking poorly about that employer in an interview or on an application. Businesses, agencies, and organizations are wary of the possibility that an employee will share their secrets or disparage them in public, so you want to make sure that you don’t represent that type of risk to a potential employer. 

Speak to Smithey Law Group Today

Whether you are in the middle of an employment dispute or you are dealing with the aftermath of a work issue, a knowledgeable employment attorney can help ensure you have the best possible outcome. At Smithey Law Group, our experienced Maryland employment attorneys are knowledgeable and have helped countless clients recover what they deserve in employment disputes. We are award-winning attorneys who are also sought-after leaders among legal professionals. If you are battling an employment issue, you can call us for help at 410-881-8814 or contact us online.  

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Joyce Smithey, a seasoned employment and labor law attorney, has over 22 years of experience representing both employers and employees in Maryland and D.C. Her practice, rooted in a deep understanding of employment law, spans administrative hearings to federal litigation. Joyce's approach is comprehensive, focusing on protecting client interests while ensuring legal compliance. A Harvard graduate, her career began in Fortune 500 companies, transitioning to law after a degree from Boston University School of Law. Joyce's expertise is recognized by numerous awards, including Maryland’s Top 100 Women. At Smithey Law Group LLC, which she founded in 2018, Joyce continues to champion employment rights, drawing on her rich background in law and business.

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