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Leaving a Company

Whether you are leaving a company for a new job, getting fired, resigning or retiring, there are some basic words and phrases every employee should know about this transition.  Send us suggestions for our workplace glossary.

Constructive discharge or dismissal

This is when a worker is forced to quit their job because the employer has made it unbearable for the employee to work there.  There could be any number of reasons for this.  Some of the common reasons include an employee who perceives harassment, bullying or even a salary reduction by an existing employer.


The employer terminates an employee for cause as a result of the progressive steps in the disciplinary process.  An employee could be discharged also for committing a serious violation of the company policy.

Exit Interview

This is an interview conducted by the employer with an employee who is leaving the company. A good tip for doing an exit interview is to remember not to burn any bridges while giving constructive information to the company.

Non-Compete Clause

This is a clause in your employment agreement that will restrict you from competing in the same business as the company that you are leaving. This protects the company as they try to make sure that employees don’t leave with all their trade secrets and head off to either start their own company or disclose those trade secrets to competitors. There are protections for employees to make sure that non-compete agreements are not detrimental to an ex-employee earning a living.

Probationary Separation

A new employee may be terminated during or at the end of the probationary period for failing to meet the performance standards established by the employers. Keep in mind that some employers can also choose to extend a probationary period for additional time if they feel the employee is close to meeting the standards, but is not yet doing so at the end of the probationary period.

Resignation letter

A letter written by the employee to the employer.  This letter will advise the employer of the employee’s intent to end employment. Resignation letters do not have to be long and do not need to state a reason for resigning.

Separated, Terminated, Fired

These are all appropriate words for being let go or laid off by an employer.

Severance Pay

The amount of money paid to an employee whose employment is ended by the company. Not all companies offer severance pay at termination.

Severance Package

Severance package will include any pay and benefits that an employee receives at the time they end their service to the company.

Termination for Cause

This means that an employee is fired from their job for a specific reason.  Typically, this would be for egregious behavior which is unacceptable to the employer and usually a serious violation of company policy.

Termination Letter

A letter from your employer which ends your employment on a specified date. The termination letter should state the reason for termination and refer to any benefits or compensation to which the employee might be entitled.  However, benefit information could be included in a separate letter.

Termination or Separation

The act of ending the employment of an employee.

Wrongful Termination

Where the termination of an employee has violated one or more terms of the employment contract. For example, being terminated for discrimination or retaliating by terminating an employee because the employee refused to commit an illegal act.  This issue probably would be resolved via a lawsuit, through an agency like the EEOC or through the union grievance settlement.

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