The rights you have once you are unemployed will vary based on the reason for your unemployment. These reasons could include getting fired, getting laid off, or quitting.
You may have the option of taking legal action if you were fired for an illegal reason. If you did not sign a contract when you were hired, your boss can fire you for almost any reason and most of the time, without warning. The same thing goes for signing a contract with no end date. If you did sign a contract at the start of your employment that lists certain reasons for termination, your boss can only fire you for the listed reasons. If you were fired for a reason not listed, your boss has broken the law. Additionally, you cannot be fired for asserting your rights as an employee in the workplace. You are protected against what is called "retaliation." This means your boss cannot fire you because you mention or report something illegal in the workplace. If you were in a union, consult with the union about filing a grievance.
Your rights are different if you were laid off. You have the right to be paid for any unused vacation and sick time on your last day of work. This could be the date that you are told you are being laid off or at some later date. If you are laid off, you may be able to get Unemployment Insurance Benefits.
If you decide to quit your job for any reason, your right to your last paycheck are different. In this case, your employer does not have to pay you on your last day, but they must still include any unused vacation or sick time. You will most likely be paid at your regular pay period. It is important to consider giving your employer a "two weeks notice" before quitting. This gives the employer time to fill your position, but this is not something you are required to do. If you feel like you had no choice but to quit your job, you may be able to get Unemployment Insurance Benefits.
While most people in Massachusetts can get unemployment benefits, some are not able to. If you are an employee of a church, an independent contractor, a work-study student, a real estate agent/broker or insurance agent who works for commission only, or an elected official/policy adviser, you will not be able to get these benefits. To apply for Unemployment Insurance benefits, click here.