Go back to your desks…if you get an email, you’re laid off.

I worked for a LARGE telecommunications company for about ten years until early 2008 when my team, along with several hundred other employees were called to an “IMPORTANT MEETING” where we were told, by conference call, that we were being outsourced to a telecommunications software provider.

Part of the contract being signed indicated that, if anyone was laid off within the first year, we would get our old company’s severance payment (2 weeks salary/year)… after that, we would get the new company’s (1 week/year).

In early February, an email invitation to an “IMPORTANT MEETING” was sent out on a Sunday afternoon for a Monday morning meeting.

At the meeting, a vice president, who we had never heard of not to mention ever met before, read a three paged prepared statement in an accent so thick that many in the room could not understand it at all.

The statement indicated that, due to a drastic cutback in work from our client — my old employer, layoffs would be necessary.

We were to go back to our desks. If we received an email, we were being laid off. If we didn’t, you still had a job.

Needless to say, the layoffs were effective one year and one day after the outsourcing agreement took effect — saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars in severance.

To make it even stingier, they laid us off on a Thursday so our final paychecks would be based on 72 hours worked, as opposed to our usual 86 2/3 hour bi-monthly paycheck.

When I told this story to my outplacement counselor (paid for by my old employer!), his jaw just dropped.

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This post was submitted by Greg Lyon.

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