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Having to worry about being fired is, depending upon the jurisdiction, not the same thing as having to worry about being dismissed. "Dismissal" is a broader concept than "firing", even though both boil down to getting the boot, the sack and the ax from an employer. In the U.S., an employee can be dismissed with no explanation under so-called "at-will" employment contracts that allow employee and employer alike to terminate employment without explanation.

Other countries, such as Canada, disallow such at-will arrangements, thereby making justified dismissal a much more prominent requirement than it is in the U.S., where, the tradition of at-will employment notwithstanding, suspicions of discriminatory, e.g., racial, gender or other "protected group"-related grounds, may provoke litigation and penalties for proven discriminatory firing.

Being fired from employment can happen for a number of reasons, always with the implication of employee fault. Direct insubordination or misconduct are among the most common causes, as is excessive, unexcused absenteeism. When an employee is terminated more than once it is, understandably, likely to be cause for concern to prospective employers and to significantly diminish the odds of being hired-unless the firing reflects more badly on the employer than on the fired employee, e.g., retaliatory termination of a morally conscientious whistleblower or an employee fired for refusing to engage in morally or legally dubious practices.

Other instances in which being fired more than once may not be catastrophic include cases in which the talent-job match was ludicrously wrong and accepted only in desperation, e.g., reluctantly working in a slaughter house only out of pure economic necessity. Nonetheless, by and large, the fewer firings of any kind, the better one's re-employment odds.

Firings need to be distinguished from resignations and layoffs, although in some instances the latter two termination labels are face-saving and litigation-evading euphemisms. One should never say, "I was fired" when, in fact, the termination was a layoff-which implies employer performance or market issues, rather than employee fault.

In some cases, a kind of quasi-resignation featuring "mutual agreement" can amicably accomplish what firing might otherwise be required to achieve. Instead of unilaterally resigning or asking for a resignation, the employee and employer jointly agree to terminate the work agreement. If, for example, necessary commuting becomes unfeasible ( e.g., because of suspended rail service), the employee's situation can become untenable and technically in breach of contract. Where good will prevails, such an alternative to firing for breach of contract can be utilized.

In rare instances an employee can be rehired after being terminated, if (s)he can come to a reasonable (re-)negotiated agreement with the employer, including arrangement for a transfer to another department or branch; if, after litigation, a court orders the rehiring; or if the firing was somehow in error, e.g., by an unauthorized supervisor or due to a misunderstanding.

Whenever an employee is fired, one of the first steps employee and employer alike should take is to confirm that both the grounds and the authority are valid-unless the contract is what is called an "at-will employment" contract (which is the norm in the United States, but not allowed in some other countries, e.g., Canada, and which does not require any grounds to be given for termination by either party).
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