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Can My Current Employer Fire Me for Interviewing with Another Company?

FiredEmployment at Will -  Firing of an employee for a job interview with another company

Employment at will means you can be terminated for any reason without any notice. This would include a situation in which your employer believes you are interviewing with other companies or exploring the job market in any way. That said, many employers won’t fire you looking for another job because a terminated employee could have a right to certain benefits, whereas an employee who leaves of his or her own free will is sacrificing those benefits.

There is a mostly unspoken sense in the job industry that employees will move from job to job for better opportunities. Most companies won’t contact a current employer without permission and most current employers won’t use a job search as a reason to terminate an employee. But even if you are unlikely to be terminated for searching for a new job, the best way to prevent a problem is to be discreet about your job search and keep it confidential until you are ready to give notice.

Conducting a Confidential Job Search While Employed

The best way to conduct a confidential job search is to not talk to co-workers about it and not use your company’s time or resources when job hunting, including the copier, printer, or computer. Use your personal account or create a temporary account to interact with potential employers via email and give your cell phone or home phone as a contact number for potential employers. Also, avoid taking phone calls or conducting interviews while you’re on the clock at your current job.

Prospective employers usually understand the nature of a confidential job search and will not contact your current employer unless given permission to do so. Still, it’s a good idea to let anyone know your current employer is unaware of your job search and ask that they respect your privacy. This is especially important if you work in an industry with an active professional network or in a smaller community.

Scheduling Employment Interviews

Be aware of your current employer’s policies on paid time off. In many cases, it’s better to use vacation or personal time for interviewing and save sick leave for when you are truly ill. Some employers are strict about sick leave and will discipline employees for misusing it. It might also be possible to schedule an interview before or after normal working hours or on a break period in your day.

If you do schedule an interview during the workday and it will be conducted via phone or video conference, make sure you are away from your desk and not using company resources to conduct the interview. Also make sure you are careful about what you disclose during an interview with a prospective employer, especially if you are interviewing within the same industry.

It’s common practice to let a prospective employer know you are under contract and cannot discuss matters prohibited by the contract terms. Doing so could put you at risk for termination if you violate the terms of an agreement regarding confidentiality or non-competition. To learn more about non-compete and confidentiality agreements, check out this information from UpCounsel.com.

During your job search, make sure you continue to perform as expected in your current job. Though you intend to move on, it’s important to meet your current employer’s expectations and continue to perform your job duties, even after you have notified your current employer of your intentions to leave. In addition to being professional, this is also important to protect your ability to get a positive reference in the future.

If you have questions about conducting a job search while employed or you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, we can help. Contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C. to schedule a free consultation.

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