3 steps to take immediately after an unexpected layoff: 'Make sure your basic conditions' are met

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Twitter has been making headlines for its mass layoffs just one week after Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk acquired the company. Nearly 1,000 California employees were let go last week, according to letters of notice Twitter sent to local authorities, with others let go from offices outside of the state as well. Some have since been asked to return, according to Bloomberg.

And it's not the only social media behemoth making changes: Meta, parent company to Facebook, is letting go more than 11,000 employees, according to a letter to the company from its founder, Mark Zuckerberg. The company's stock has fallen 72% this year.

Regardless of whether or not you work for these companies, if you find yourself unexpectedly let go, here are a few steps experts recommend you take.

Forward all layoff communication to a personal email

To begin with, preserve any interactions that happened over company messaging like email or Slack regarding your layoff.

"Any emails, evidence, correspondence you have about that," says Arick Fudali, partner and managing attorney of civil rights firm the Bloom Firm, "forward to your personal email, take screenshots, whatever you have to do to preserve that is important because once you're gone from the company, you no longer have access to those emails."

How quickly you cease to have access to your work accounts can vary. In some cases you may lose access to work accounts immediately, as some former Twitter employees reported — in others you may have until the end of day or week. And keep in mind, if there's other emails or data from work that you want to send to your personal accounts, any company policies around proprietary information will still apply.

Read severance agreements carefully before signing

Do not immediately agree to any of the terms presented in the layoff, Fudali recommends.  

"My best advice is, do not sign any severance agreements, do not sign any acknowledgement forms," says Fudali. Do not even reply to an email, "confirmed," he says. Especially when it comes to cases where the layoff may have been unlawful due to discrimination or a violation of the WARN Act, this could result in you signing your rights away, he says.

Read through what the company is offering, read through your HR policy to make sure you know the company stance on layoffs, and do some research on laws around human and employment rights in your state. If you suspect or aren't sure if you've been unlawfully terminated, speak to an attorney, he says. Some offer free consultations.  

'Make sure your basic conditions' are met

Ultimately, regardless of whether or not you decide to take legal action against what could be an unlawful termination, "make sure your basic conditions and yourself are taken care of" first, says Daniela Urban, executive director of the Center for Workers' Rights.

File for unemployment. Look into your eligibility for COBRA, which provides the ability to keep the health plan you had through your employer for a limited period of time, or health insurance plans on your state's marketplace. Start looking for another job and reach out to your professional networks.

Do what it takes to make sure you're in a comfortable position and the bases of your living conditions are covered as soon as you can.

Check out:

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