Worked as a mid-level manager at a Federal agency. Organization did poorly on an inspection and inspectors pointed at a number of poor decisions by our Director-level leadership as the root cause. Numerous subordinates brought the exact same issues to them prior to the inspection but the Directors always knew better. They had a habit of taking credit for success and pushing blame for failures to others and were stressful people to work for, so I had already been looking at my options and planning an exit strategy.
Get called into a private meeting with one of the Directors who asked me to write a letter to HR saying it was my fault we did poorly on the inspection and request a demotion to a lower graded position because I was in over my head. I declined. He said that if I didn't then I would be let go. I reminded him that I passed my probationary period and they had to prove cause to fire me (after the 1 year probationary period, you're supposed to have job protection). The Director said that he had already talked to HR, that they can play paperwork games and let me go as a non-disciplinary action that would bypass the protections I'm supposed to get (unethical but not surprising from these people). I told him to go ahead and do that.
He was like, "No, you don't understand, we want to keep you. You can keep doing the same stuff you are now but at the lower position. In a couple years we can promote you back."
I said, yes, I understand that and, no, I will not write that letter to HR. That I'd rather get let go than keep working for him. Needless to say, he wasn't happy.
They do the non-disciplinary action and give me 30-day notice of termination. Then they take away all of my job duties and move me into, essentially, a converted closet to work out of for the last 30 days. I don't argue the move and use the 30 days to finish a bunch of coursework that had built up in a correspondence course I was taking. Then HR notifies me that they will not give me the (mediocre) severance payment because I was being let go for poor performance. I remind them that it was their choice to use the "non-disciplinary" method to let me go and, if they use that method, I get the severance. I mentioned a few of the methods I could escalate the issue (congressional complaint, etc) and they quietly gave me the severance.
This is where the planning and exit strategy came into play. Thanks to the non-disciplinary type of termination, I qualified for unemployment. Thanks to qualifying for unemployment, I could sell the bank-owned foreclosure I had bought and fixed up a year prior for $120k profit and not pay taxes (usually you have to live in the property for 2 years to get the profit tax free). I had also already lined up a place I could live for an extended period rent-free.
So, in the end, I got $120k real estate profit tax-free. I chilled out on unemployment for a bit over a year (this was during the downturn and I think unemployment lasted for 99 weeks or so), relaxed, traveled a bit, hung out with friends and played lots of video games. I applied for jobs but only stuff that paid well and looked interesting, I was pretty picky. Between unemployment and passive income, I was actually cash positive by about $3.5k/month. A bit after a year one of the interesting jobs panned out and I've been doing that ever since. Unhappy about all the shenanigans that happened but very happy of the line of action I took and being able to say FU.