When an Employee is Fired
An employee is fired when his personal performance is unsatisfactory, or if he does not comply with company standards. When an employee is fired, there is no expectation of being rehired at a future date.
When an Employee is Laid Off
When an employee is laid off, it typically has nothing to do with the employee's personal performance. Layoffs occur when a company undergoes restructuring or downsizing, or goes out of business. In some cases, a layoff may be temporary, and the employee is rehired when the economy improves.
In some cases, laid off employees may be entitled to severance pay or other employee benefits provided by their employer.
To collect unemployment, you typically need to have lost your job "through no fault of your own." People who are laid off are likely to receive unemployment because they left due to restructuring rather than personal performance.
People who are fired are less likely to receive unemployment because they left due to issues with their personal performance. However, if a fired employee can argue that their firing was unfounded or unrelated to performance, he may be eligible for unemployment.
If you are unsure whether or not you qualify for unemployment, check with your state unemployment office.