Getting your job back — appealing a termination of employment

Last updated: July 18, 2024
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Eleana Bowman
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Getting your job back — appealing a termination of employment
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If you lose your job, it may come as a surprise. You may feel the penalty was too harsh, or your employer let you go for an illegal reason.

Finding a new role isn’t always easy, and explaining your circumstances to hiring managers can be tricky.

In some cases, appealing your termination of employment can be an option. You may even get your old job back, depending on why you were let go and how you want to approach the issue.

Don’t know where to start? In this guide, we’ll explain when you can appeal a termination of employment. We’ll share the steps you can take and give you an example letter for appeal.

Plus, we’ll compare popular companies to give you an idea of what to expect from the appeal process.

What is wrongful termination?

In the United States, excluding Montana, we have at-will employment. This means employees can be let go at any time — without a good reason.

However, you may have a case for wrongful termination if you're fired for an illegal reason.

There are a range of illegal reasons depending on your state. One of the most common is unlawful discrimination, where you're treated differently based on your disability, national origin, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, religion, or sex.

If you have an employment agreement, ‌there may be a breach of contract. Or if you're let go for speaking out against harassment, you may also have a wrongful termination case.

Your circumstances will impact your end-game. For example, you may be looking to sue the company for loss of income and emotional distress. Or you may want to appeal the termination of employment and get your job back.

When can you appeal a termination of employment?

Losing your job can come as a shock, especially if you enjoy going to work. Your finances will take a hit, and your health insurance and other benefits will be impacted.

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Depending on the circumstances, appealing the decision can be an option. If you're successful, you may get to keep your job.

So, when can you appeal? If you've faced disciplinary action, you may think the penalty was too harsh. You can review the company policy handbook to see if your manager has followed standard procedures.

Or if you were fired for an illegal reason, your employer has fired you unfairly. This gives you room to get your job back. Keep in mind: you'll need evidence to back up your appeal.

What steps can you take to appeal a termination of employment?

If you want your job back, there are a few steps you can take. Here's a rundown on how to start your appeal.

1. Speak to human resources

First, you need to understand why you lost your job. If you have an exit interview, use this time to ask questions. If the company has a human resources manager, they can give you more details.

Once you have all the information, you can determine if you're eligible for an appeal. Sometimes, people get fired for reasons that are out of their control. For example, the employer may be having financial difficulties.

Even though you may be feeling hurt, try to be polite. Even if you don't get your job back, any feedback can help you in your next role.

2. Get everything in writing

If you want to build a case for an appeal, you'll need evidence. Having written documentation can be the key to getting rehired.

For example, if you have an employment contract, the document may prove the agreement was broken.

Your personnel files may contain performance reviews, complaints, and other information relevant to your employment.

And if you have an exit interview planned, make sure you attend. You can collect any exit documents, including a copy of your termination letter.

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Even if you don't get your job back, you may have a case for wrongful termination. The information you collect can be used to support your case.

3. Learn about the company’s process

Every company is different, and your employer may have an appeals process. You can check your personnel manual or the company's website to learn more about the steps.

If you have at-will employment and you’ve been fired for a legal reason, you may not have cause for an appeal. However, there's no harm in trying to get your job back.

Just remember to be professional and polite. The process may take time, so you may want to look for alternative employment while you wait.

4. Start your appeal

Want to go ahead with your appeal?

Usually, you'll need to start with a termination appeal letter. We'll give you an example below, but it should address the issues that caused you to lose your job.

Once your review gets the green light, you can expect a meeting with a manager or someone from the human resources department. This may be called an arbitration hearing.

The hearing is your opportunity to discuss your personal circumstances. You can explain why you've been fired unfairly and talk about your contributions to the company.

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The outcome can vary, even if the manager agrees that they made the wrong decision. For example, you may get your job back or receive some money to cover lost income.

How to write an employment termination appeal letter

Some employers want you to appeal in writing. Your letter can be sent via email, mail, or delivered in person, depending on your company's policies.

It should include your work history and evidence to back up your appeal. Read your letter carefully and check for any spelling or grammatical errors.

And make sure you end with a professional closing, such as "Kind regards" or "Sincerely."

Here’s a sample letter that'll support the investigation process.

Dear Mr. Delane,

I am writing this letter to appeal the recent decision to terminate my employment.

I have been working at Home Zone for five years, since I first started as a junior worker in July 2018. I have since undertaken a company training program, and I was promoted to assistant manager earlier this year.

The reason you gave for my job loss was because I am unreliable. I admit I was late for work due to a family emergency, but this isn't a common occurrence. I apologize for this incident and hope this mistake won't overshadow a good working relationship.

If you look at my personnel files, you'll notice I have only been late on two occasions during my five-year employment. I rarely take a sick day, and my performance reviews have always been positive.

Please consider my appeal, and I look forward to a positive response. I welcome any further feedback, and thank you for your time.


Jessica Roy

Now, let's take a look at two popular companies and how their appeal processes work.


At Amazon, firing an employee is usually a last resort. The company has a disciplinary action program called Pivot for workers that aren't meeting Amazon's expectations.

If you get placed in this program, you can either improve your performance or choose to leave with a severance package.

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If you do lose your job, you can still make an Amazon termination appeal. The first step is to send a written appeal notice. You'll need to act quickly because you only have five business days to start the process.

Three senior team members will then review the case. They'll look at your individual circumstances to make a final decision.

If your appeal is unsuccessful, you'll need to wait at least a year before reapplying at Amazon.


What about the Walmart termination appeal process? If you get fired at Walmart, and you think it was unfair or illegal, you can speak to the human resources department.

You should put your appeal in writing and make a move within thirty days. Keep in mind: Walmart has policies about when they can fire employees, so your appeal may not be successful.

Depending on why you lost your job, you may be able to reapply for a Walmart position after 60 days.

If you think your employer has done something illegal or there’s potential discrimination, you should speak to a lawyer instead.

Getting your job back after being let go

Lost your job? It may not be the end because there can be options to appeal.

If it’s a wrongful termination and the employer has done something illegal, you should consider legal advice. You can also appeal the decision if you think you’ve been treated unfairly.

There are a few steps you can take. You should speak to the human resources department to learn why you were fired. Get everything in writing because you’ll need evidence to back up your case.

Learn about your company’s policies. There may be information that shows your boss overreacted. Finally, you can write a letter of appeal to start the process.

Even if you don’t get your job back, you may be entitled to compensation.

Ready to find a new job? Head to our job board or visit our resource center for more helpful tips.

1 Comment


Byron Brown
Bullet point

I do believe that sparks nv walmart are terminating maxed out employees to bring in minimum wage employees,