Male employee taking a box of personal work supplies out of their office

Differences Between Being Furloughed, Laid Off, and Fired

Whether you were furloughed, laid off, or fired, the result is the same — you are no longer working at a place of employment. However, the key differences with each of these terms are significant if you are considering pursuing legal action.


When an employee is furloughed, they are still technically employed with their employer, but are not being asked to work and will not be paid for their absence. Employers who implement a furlough usually do so as a temporary arrangement with the hopes of having their employees return to their jobs in the near future.

While this arrangement is not ideal, some employers will say ask employees to take a temporary furlough for a designated period of time, making the action not as intimidating. For example, if an employer is asking all employees to take one furlough day, an employee should not be in fear about the security of their employer’s status. On the other hand, if an employer tells employees that they are furloughed and do not have a timeline of when work will restart, they should be concerned about finding a more suitable job.

Laid Off

When someone is laid off, the employer has decided to change the terms of employment. In this case, an employee did not necessarily do anything wrong; rather, the employer decided to downsize or restructure, ultimately eliminating a person’s position. This was prevalent especially at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when many companies were forced to reduce their workforce due to the lack of business coming in.


When someone is fired, this usually means that the employer had due reason to terminate the employee's employment. If you were fired, it is critical to get why you were fired in writing as the could help if you feel you were terminated without just cause. Additionally, do not speak negatively or share your grievances on social media because this could be detrimental to your case if you go through with a wrongful termination claim.

When to Contact an Employment Lawyer

If you believe you were wrongfully terminated you have every right to seek justice. Even if you are unsure your termination was wrongfully terminated, an experienced employment attorney will be able to give guidance about your situation.

At Kennard Law, P.C., our team is committed to helping those wronged by their current or former employers. With offices across the nation, you will find representation close to you. Contact us today so we can get started on your case.