How To Get Your Job Back After Being Fired

A Closer Look At The Bank Of Ireland That Sacked Its Manager And Then Gave Him His Job Back

Being fired is something of a social and professional stigma that every white collared, hard working, duty driven office worker trying to climb up the career ladder dreads.

Even when you are not trying particularly hard to climb up that ladder, being fired means losing the only thing that forces you to get out of bed every morning, and worse, losing that monthly pay check and your security blanket.

In the simple words of Donald Trump,

“There’s no arguing. There is no anything. There is no beating around the bush. ‘You’re fired’ is a very strong term.”

Most people scurry to find a new job the moment they are fired. But a few handful stick around stubbornly, determined to get back their old job and prove those who sacked them wrong. One among these is a manager with the Bank of Ireland who fought a lawsuit tooth and nail, finally winning his job back after six long years.

How The Bank Of Ireland Manager Fought Gross Double Standards To Win His Job Back

In 2009, James Reilly, then a young 27 year old, was fired from his post as bank manager at the Bank of Ireland.  The reason being that he had been found guilty of forwarding pornographic emails to his colleagues, something that Reilly has claimed since then, he did to hide his homosexuality.  Following this incident, Reilly was hastily suspended, and the only reason given to him at the time was that ‘it had something to do with emails’.

He had been found guilty of forwarding pornographic emails to his colleagues

James Reilly - After Being Fired
James Reilly

Instead of leaving quietly, Reilly chose to file a lawsuit.  His conduct hadn’t been appropriate, Reilly admitted, but the bank’s gross double standards in this situation angered him enough to drag his employers to court. In the six years that have passed since then, Reilly has been summoned to eight different court hearings, and at each one of them he attested to the bank having been unfair and biased. Reilly’s argument was that he was not the only one at the bank who had been forwarding these emails, yet the bank set out to make an example only out of him.

The bank’s gross double standards in this situation angered him enough to drag his employees to court

He further argued that a pornographic calendar hung in the men’s bathroom at the Blanchardstown branch he worked for, and the management never seemed to have had issues with that. Strengthening his case even more was the fact that one of the seven emails under investigation for the case originated from the head office of the bank, a discovery that the bank hastily tried to cover up and took no action against.

Bank of Ireland, Blanchardstown branch - after being fired
Bank of Ireland, Blanchardstown branch

Reilly testified before the court that he realized the emails he forwarded had been “pornographic, rude, racist and sexist”,  yet he did not deserve to be singled out. Especially since the bank never made the effort to notify its employees about its strict policies against such emails, a policy that only seemed to extend to one of its employees.

He realized the emails he forwarded had been “pornographic, rude, racist and sexist”

The high court judge presiding over the case ruled that a ‘grave injustice’ had been done that had resulted in a ‘catastrophic effect’ on Reilly’s life and career.  And after a six year long battle that cost him a great deal of money, Reilly was reinstated at the bank.

The Trick Of Getting Your Job Back After Being Fired

While dragging your employers to the court may not always be an option, several workers in the past have attested to getting their jobs back after being fired by simply thinking clearly and acting professionally. Here are a few tricks to keep in mind the next time you have a manager trying to fire you without reason:

  • Stay Professional: Appeal with dignity to your manager by yourself, or along with your union. Even though you might feel the urge to beg, argue or scream, remember to remain calm and dignified.
  • File a grievance: If you have reason to believe that your work performance and ethic does not justify the firing you have been doled out, you have grounds for a grievance appeal.
  • Prove Your Worth: Put together every piece of documentation that can prove your worth and value to the company. If you helped reduce overhead costs, directly contributed to profits, or significantly helped with revenue generation and cost savings, you have a good argument on your hands. Ask your manager if you can have a meeting and plead to his sense of economics.
  • Review Company’s Policies: If you sense injustice, review your company’s policies and employee handbooks to check if you find a loophole that can get you your job back.

It may not always work, but it’s always worth a shot to try and win your job back after being fired instead of struggling through the job market.

How I Lost And Won Back My Job On The Same Day

Now, while I did not have to deal with a six year long courtroom drama like Reilly did and neither was I an office worker, the moral of both stories remain the same. I was hired on a contract basis, yet the unreasonable firing, on account that I had taken a day off, did not sit too well with me.

After taking a few minutes to gather my thoughts, I argued with my employer that he would not find anyone who knew the project as well as I did, my argument being that I had successfully completed a significant portion of the project by myself. I pointed out that my contract did not mention anywhere that I would be let go if I were to take a day off, and implied the legal issues this could lead to. Eventually, with appeals to my work ethics and work quality and silently implied threats, I was able to convince my employer that I deserved another chance.

It’s an advice I have passed on to several young workers since the incident. Instead of walking out the door in a huff when you are fired, stand your ground and appeal to your manager’s sense of reasoning, or perhaps sense of goodness. You can always walk out in a huff later if that doesn’t work, but everyone respects a person who can speak up.


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Pursuing an MSc in Geology, apart from science, writing on HR has always been one of my greatest passions.