Our local paper, the Roanoke Times, published an article on Sunday called Economic survival guide: Preparing for a layoff

Economic Survival Guide
The Reporter asked a series of questions to local employment experts. While I agree with their responses – I don’t think they went far enough. My unsolicitied answers, are in bold.

Q: Should I be looking for another job while I’m still employed?

A: Many people do, but doing so during work time can be considered a firing offense by some employers, according to Dan Summerlin, a lawyer who specializes in workplace issues at Woods Rogers in Roanoke. “I’d strongly recommend that employees looking for work do it on their own time,” he said.

WAIT – you certainly shouldn’t try to start your own business, or compete while stile employed. HELLO – NON COMPETE. DUTY OF LOYALTY. It may be one thing to read the classifieds, but certainly DO not go the extra step to start your own business if you have a contract that prohibits that. Also – don’t talk to co-workers about it either. Conspiracy claim anyone?

Q: If my boss or human resources department calls me in to give notice, how should I react?

A: Maintain a professional attitude as if you were a new applicant. Try to show confidence and be ready with a wish list. For example, see if the termination date is negotiable; once you have agreed to go cooperatively, the company may be amenable to a slower exit. And if severance pay is being offered, there’s no harm in asking for a bit more. Do the same about insurance benefits. And get everything in writing without being testy.

SEVERANCE PAY USUALLY MEANS SEVERANCE AGREEMENT. Please don’t sign on the dotted line without reading the agreement, and understanding what it really means. It is very important to know what you are being asked to sign.

Q: After I turn in my employee identification card and hit the door, what then?

A: After filing for unemployment pay, make an organized push to find work. Set a minimum number of prospective employers you will contact daily. Network with previous colleagues, including those in the job that just ended. Refresh your resume and use all the personal communication skills you can summon. Be someone you would want to hire.

AGREED – but what if you had a non-compete? In a tough economy, your former employer may be more willing to let you out of it. Ask for a release.

Lauren Ellerman
Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at