Is There Still Shame in Getting Fired?

Is There Still Shame in Getting Fired?In 2012, good employees are fired every day. I'm not talking about getting fired for cause, like incompetence or stealing or something untoward like that, I'm talking about good, reliable employees being let go for a variety of reasons ranging from:

  • corporate restructuring
  • the fact they can replace you for half the price
  • outsourcing
  • downsizing
  • political bullshit

There was a time when getting fired from your job was akin to wearing a scarlet letter. There was shame, so you hid the fact you were fired from family and friends. But that day is long gone. Today, it's okay to be fired. In fact, it's par for the course.

I've personally known of several people who were shown the door only to receive the email and spin that they left for other opportunities. This is sometimes an option the employer will present to the person being fired. They'll offer to soften the blow by spinning it as "moving on" as opposed to "getting canned".

Corporations like spinning a departure as a good employee moving on after many years to another opportunity because it doesn't alarm the workforce that good people are getting mowed down. It doesn't incite panic from pencil pushers and, if the person is in the public eye, doesn't upset customers.

My question to you all is this: Is there still shame in getting fired?

Share this entry

Comments (25 - click here to join in!)

Mississauga Phil

There is a difference between being layed off and being fired.

You are layed of for the mirad of bullshit reasons you listed above. These are beyond the control of the employee being terminated (you can't balme someone for making "too much money" and being let go to hire someone cheaper)

You are "fired" for being lazy, rude, unproductive, insubordinate, or an all around idiot, and yes there is still shame in that.

December 11, 2012 @ 11:44 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Mississauga Phil

In my experience, as a hirer, firer and keen observer, it's all 'fired', the only difference is in severance.

"Laid off" is a specific term when you're not paid for a certain period of time. Companies can sometimes exploit loopholes that let them not pay someone for 38 weeks, for example. But after 38 weeks they have to either start paying the person or sever them appropriately.

But fired is fired, whether b/c of restructuring or b/c of incompetence. We've just given "fired" such a negative connotation that we soften it by saying "laid off", even when it's termination, the official word for fired.

You can terminate anyone at anytime for no reason... so long as they're compensated appropriately.

December 11, 2012 @ 11:56 AM

Mississauga Phil

@ Mike - agreed, however your question was about the shame of it. I work with a guy who can't put in a full week of work if his life depended on it, he is likely on his way out in the new year - there is shame in that. He is a grown assed man who can't control his late night partying, if he is terminated it has nothing to do with finacnes, politics or anything other than the fact that we cant rely on him to do the job he is paid for. When it happens he should be ashamed.

If you are terminated for resons beyond your control, then it is unfortunate, but not a reason to be ashamed.

December 11, 2012 @ 12:12 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Mississauga Phil


December 11, 2012 @ 12:31 PM


Sometimes, you get fired because your boss is an incompetent jerk and you refuse to kiss his ass, and it makes him feel powerful to walk around and tell people that he canned his employees, contractors, agencies, etc. I am a hard worker, smart, good at what I do, and used to success, yet I was fired. I feel a lot of shame around it, and normally don't admit it because I am worried that people will think it was my fault. So yes, at least for me, there is shame.

December 11, 2012 @ 12:55 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


I'm here to tell you there's no shame in getting fired. Release that shame. It serves absolutely no good.

I could write a book about the political corporate and egotistical bullshit I recently witnessed in the corporate world. Getting fired b/c you refuse to drink the kool-aid isn't shameful, it's a badge of honour and integrity.

December 11, 2012 @ 1:08 PM


Thanks! I think so too...but let's just say it isn't something I readily admit to a potential employer, for fear of their perception...

December 11, 2012 @ 1:10 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


True, you don't bang that point home in the interview, but with friends and family you can be honest without shame.

Excellent people get fired every day for the wrong reasons. I hope you were fairly compensated.

December 11, 2012 @ 1:12 PM


There is shame is not quitting a shaky or bad situation long beforehand. The writing is often on the wall, well in advance.

December 11, 2012 @ 1:13 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


It's tricky though because if you quit, you receive no compensation. But if they fire you, you'll receive severance.

December 11, 2012 @ 1:15 PM


I really relate to what @Colleen is saying here. The same thing happened to me a few months ago, and I still carry around a lot of resentment. It's a hard one to let go, but it's nice to know I'm not alone.

They're idiots for letting us go.


December 11, 2012 @ 1:32 PM


Well, since I was there just shy of three months (and still under the "probation" period), I was not compensated.

@CQ for sure the writing is on the wall, and in my case I actively searching for other jobs, but when you have a family, house, and other financial responsibilities, sometimes you can't quit until you know you have something else lined up!

December 11, 2012 @ 1:34 PM


@becca Right! Dumbasses.

December 11, 2012 @ 1:36 PM

Mike from Lowville

@ Mississauga Phil for this comment "You are "fired" for being lazy, rude, unproductive, insubordinate, or an all around idiot, and yes there is still shame in that." you might just resemble some of those remarks!

My oldest, working for an employer, found a better job. Gave the employer 3 weeks notice and was told he was no longer needed two days later. When he received his Record of Employment it said FIRED! Now please explain, where is the shame in that (unless you mean the employer who lied) and how would you categorize my son's work record?

Theres always more to the story than meets the eye.

December 11, 2012 @ 5:51 PM


No shame in being let go or fired anymore. I have hired many people in my position and I would say most of them have been let go and it is very common now.

December 11, 2012 @ 9:39 PM

Pascale Mercier

I remember when Shill Bill Carroll pushed out Ted Woloshyn from the morning show. They had a big retiring for him and we didn't hear anything from him for two years.

After two years, he revealed all of the horrible details of what they did to him...but he's back on the at 'RB and the fans just love him, good for him for coming back from his forced retirement.

December 11, 2012 @ 11:00 PM

Pete McPhedran

@Mike from Lowville

re: Your son. This is an interesting situation. I will presume your son gave notice in writing of his intent to leave which included the last day, 3 weeks in the future. With that he is in a very good and somewhat unique situation.

According to Ontario Labour law (I am not a lawyer, just an employer) The company is fully within their rights to ask him to stop coming in to the office/work place. However, they must pay him within 5 days or the next regular pay day, whichever is sooner, for the full amount of the 3 weeks notice that he provided. He is free to begin working elsewhere at any time thereafter.

Further, since they reported on his ROE that he was terminated, he may have rights for further compensation as that is not accurate. If he was employed for more than 5 years at that work place, he would be entitled to at least 3 weeks severance and maybe more. If he was improperly terminated, he could easily get additional compensation. i.e. if they don't pay him properly etc..

It's worth looking into it with a labour lawyer, they will generally tell you up front, for free, if you have a case.

Now the other road you can take is to simply write a letter to the company and ask for clarification. If they simply made a mistake and are generally good, they will probably make it right. Quickly.

I know someone who gave 9 months notice, the company has a policy where people of certain positions are walked out immediately upon giving notice and he ended up with a very nice severance as a result. Very unique case.


December 12, 2012 @ 8:46 AM

Mississauga Phil

@ Mike From Lowville - I apologize if I offended you, you son was clearly not fired for the reasons I listed, he got screwed by an employer when he tried to do things the right way. My comments were directed at the shame that people who display those traits should feel at being fired.

That being said, no, I do not resemble those remarks. I spent the better part of 2011 and 2012 working my ass off at 2 jobs to keep my family afloat while my wife finishes college.

Due to my hard work our CFO pulled me into his office at the begining of august and gave me a 2 month retroactive raise so that I would no longer have to work 2 jobs.

Just to clarify.

December 12, 2012 @ 10:59 AM

4xe Time

I have a friend in the US, who was fired just before labor day. He is 62, was with the company for 8 years as VP Sales and Marketing. He was fired because of a personality conflict with his new boss, and is paid until the end of this year.
He feels tremendous shame, feels he has let himself and his family down, and is very depressed about any job prospects anywhere near the salary he was making.
So, I guess feeling shame in getting fired is still very real, at least for older people.

December 12, 2012 @ 2:16 PM


Even young, highly successful, hard workers can get fired for something as ridiculous as a personality conflict. I know from experience. While you know you shouldn't feel shame, there is always a part of you that does. Some part that thinks...maybe it WAS my fault, even though you know logically that it wasn't...

December 12, 2012 @ 2:39 PM

Mike from Lowville

Unions protect against things like "personality conflicts" it also protects assholes. Thank heavens the percentages of assholes in most workplaces is only around 10%.

December 12, 2012 @ 6:12 PM

Mike from Lowville

@Pete McPhedran, thanks for the comments. I know just what you said to be true. We talked about going that route but my son declined. Didn't want the BS. He started working the next week so no pay loss, no hassle. He's happy, I'm not but, his decision.

December 12, 2012 @ 6:24 PM


I was not fired,I was "permantely laid off"..there was someone doing mine and 90 other's jobs the next day under the guise of a new title.

December 14, 2012 @ 1:14 AM


I think it depends on how society sees it. It is considered a big shame in some sections of people and I think that affects us more; what other people will say about you and think about you. Can you go to functions & parties without the pitying and shameful looks that they give you? I wouldn't be able to get past that.

December 16, 2012 @ 3:23 AM


Seems no one wants to admit they were an asshole and required firing !
Yes they will say nonsense like personality conflicts being canned so the employer could hire someone cheaper to do the job and no doubt those reasons have happened but in general they are fired with good reason.

February 8, 2013 @ 4:38 PM

Leave a comment

Only 25 comments? C'mon, we can do better... Leave a comment above and let's keep this conversation going!

« Meet Rosie: The Co-Host of Toronto Mike'd Honky The Christmas Goose - Johnny Bower and Little John and the Rinky Dinks »