Resign or you will be fired. This ultimatum is often posed to employees. Employees in this position have to weigh many considerations, including the effect of the black mark of a termination, potentially waiving certain rights by resigning, and other effects to employment benefits based on how the separation from employment is categorized.
Sometimes, the decision can be easier for employees. Employees who are at-will or in probationary assignments which can be terminated for any reason, have no job protections. Thus, when an employer delivers the resign or be fired ultimatum, it truly is a threat that the employee will be fired, and the employer may genuinely be offering the employee a benefit of leaving without the scar of a termination on the employee’s record.
Other times, employees enjoy job protections and cannot be fired without a hearing or some level of process. This is particularly true with civil service employees in New York. It is quite common for municipal employers to offer permanent civil service employees the option of resigning in lieu of a termination hearing. This provides the employee the benefit of leaving without a record of termination (an important benefit for civil service workers) and gives the employer the benefit of certainty of separation. Indeed, when a termination proceeding proceeds in good faith with a neutral decision maker, the outcome of the hearing is not foreseeable for either party.