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Recognize these signs that you're about to be fired

You have the right to report unsafe or illegal activity in the workplace, including things like safety violations or discrimination -- but not all employers behave benevolently when they're alerted to a problem.

In fact, reporting a problem does have the potential of putting a target on your back. If you've recently made waves at work over something that was wrong, you need to watch for the following signs that you're about to be fired:

1. You're suddenly shunned by your co-workers

If you've always enjoyed a friendly relationship with your co-workers, take note if you find yourself sitting alone at the lunch table or left out of decisions that you would normally have been consulted on. That's a sign that your co-workers have been warned (either directly or indirectly) that associating too closely with you could damage their careers.

2. Your boss's attitude toward you shifts

If your boss seems to be ignoring your input during meetings, is avoiding your or suddenly finds something to criticize with everything you do, that's a bad sign. While the shift in tone could be temporary and unrelated to your recent report, don't count on it.

3. You have fewer and fewer significant assignments

If you're being given less work than normal and the work you do have seems to be fairly unimportant, that's a cause for concern. When you're being handed tasks that seem more suited to an intern than someone at your professional level, the odds are good that your bosses are trying to position things so that your sudden absence won't be much of a disruption to the workflow.

4. You are handed a negative performance review

Have you always been a good employee with great performance reviews? If so, there's no logical reason that your performance would suddenly slip so far that you'd deserve a bad evaluation or -- worse -- a performance improvement plan. You should view either of these things as a precursor to being fired. The company is just covering its bases and trying to build up some documentation that will make its actions look justified.

If you suspect that your termination is just around the corner, an attorney with experience handling wrongful terminations can give you advice on how to best protect your rights and your future.

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