If my employer told me that I was going to be fired for performance reasons, can he make be submit a letter of resignation?

He told e to find another job which I have since done. Now he is not going to give me a severance package and is demanding a letter of resignation. Should I give him the letter or should I refuse to “resign”? I feel like he is asking for the letter so he doesn’t have to give me a severance package.

Asked on November 15, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Your employer is under no obligation to give you a severance package at all, unless you have an employment contract requiring one; in the absence of a contract, you are an "employee at will," and an employee at will may be terminated at any time without additional compensation or severance. (The law does not require severance.) So for severance purposes, it most likely does not matter whether you resign or are fired.

However, if you are fired and not "for cause"--so, not for some significant bad behavior, like insubordiantion, violating company policy, excessive absences, theft, etc.--you would be eligible for unemployment insurance . . .but if you resign, you are deemed to have left your job voluntarily and may not collect unemployment. So if you submit a resignation letter, you will be depriving yourself of unemployment.

The employer can't make you resign--after all, the worst it could do is fire you without severance, which it could do anyway. If he wants you to resign (and therefore not have unemployment assessed against his company), he needs to offer you something to make it worthwhile--like a good severance package.

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