When people lose their jobs, they sometimes use the terms “fired” and “laid off” interchangeably as if they mean the same thing. The person is just saying that they are not employed any longer.
That sentiment may make sense on a basic level. They did lose their job. However, it is important to know that these terms are not the same. They mean very different things, and exactly what happened can have a big impact on what you do after you lose your job.
The difference is essentially whether or not the loss of employment was something you controlled or not. If not, then you were laid off. If so, then you were fired — or you quit.
For example, maybe the company wasn’t making enough money. The only way to balance the books was to release workers who had not done anything wrong. The company just couldn’t support them. If that happened to you, you got laid off, and you may be able to collect unemployment as a result.
On the other hand, maybe the company has plenty of money to pay you. The issue is just that you showed up late for work too many times. Your boss fired you in accordance with the employee handbook and then hired someone to replace you. You had control (at least at some point) over whether or not you kept your job.
No matter what happened, it is important to understand all of the rights that you have as an employee in New York and what you can do if those rights were violated.