“I can’t get over all the wrong ways I run across. I’m not a big fan of the walk-the-person-out-the-door-practically-in-handcuffs model. Suddenly people who have been entrusted with the company secrets, can’t be trusted for another five hours. I would think the right way would be to give people some time to say goodbye,” she said.
She said she knows of one person who was told by his landlord he lost his job. It happened when the landlord was doing a reference check. ‘They just told me you don’t work there anymore,’ the landlord said.
I’ve heard of a similar story of a former classmate who was a disc jockey at a New Hampshire radio station. He was in the shower, getting ready to go to work and listening to his radio station, when he heard the announcer telling people to tune in and hear another announcer on his show.
Here’s a few other questions-and-answers from the show:
Q: I was recently laid off and given a three-week severance package. Is there a standard?
A: The common formula is a month for every year of service but there’s no standard. There is a standard for mass layoffs in Minnesota.
Q: If you’re required to sign something that says you can’t speak about the company in order to get your severance pay, should you?
A: Generally, they usually say you can’t speak in a negative way. I’d consider bringing the notice to an attorney to get it pared down a bit. (Bob notes: I’m sure the questioner meant “speak negatively,” which makes the severance “hush money.”)
Q: I was employed for 12 years, and now the searching parameters seem to be online. There, they ask for salary requirements. What should I do?
A: You’ve lost much of your negotiating power because you’ve already identified what you will or won’t work for. Try filling in all zeros or all ones. But if they’re employing a screening program to eliminate all applicants above or below a certain number, that won’t work.
Q: I was fired while on vacation. Does that happen often?
A: I’m aware of someone who made the mistake of answering his cellphone while on vacation. A shoe salesman, driving all over North Dakota, got back to his home office and the doors were locked. He had no idea the company had closed. “All I have is a bunch of business cards and a trunkfull of left shoes.”
Q: Is there a difference between being fired and laid off?
A: I don’t know if people care as much about the distinction. Fired is a word we use when someone causes their own demise. Laid off is the term we use when it’s due to an economic situation that isn’t framed as the fault of the employee.
The distinction is significant. You’d be hard-pressed to find people who haven’t been laid off. Fired is another story.