Dec 23 2013

Fired 3 Times in 2 years…Is it me?

I did everything right. I worked hard, earned 3 degrees while working full time and was easy to get along with. I have 1 major issue and that is that I don’t suffer fools lightly. I’m really easy going and told I have a good sense of humor. Generally I deal with very smart people on a daily basis and I enjoy this part of my job. But sometimes when people cannot or will not acknowledge that they do not know everything even when presented with the facts infuriates me.

The first time I was laid off from my job I worked for a guy that I thought had it all together. He was a little younger than me and knew he didn’t have the knowledge or experiences that I had but he was smart enough to ask good questions and generally came up with some good suggestions. Then one day everything changed and I don’t know why. My yearly review was due and he called me in to his office. I sat down feeling pretty confident that it would be the usual “Exceeds Expectations” since I had just won a company wide efficiency award, just got back from training where I earned an advanced industry certification and had just completed a major project way ahead of schedule and below budget.
That was not to be. I was told that I had “communication issues” with members of senior management, I was difficult to get along with and I had let some deadlines slip on some major projects. I protested but I might as well have been talking to a wall.

The facts were this: The “communications issues” were from several years before when a VP wanted new equipment but then decided that it would not help him. This happened the first week I started working for this company like I said several years before. The other “communications issue” was when I asked a VP a question in a meeting that he was unprepared to answer. Instead of saying he would get back to me or something like that he made up some BS and I let it slide. I even thanked him for the response knowing it was BS. Later he told my boss that I was harassing the ladies in his office. He was the HR VP for pete’s sake. It was BS and never happened. The complaint about the harassment was not true and he could not get anyone from his department to file a complaint. Also this supposedly occurred a good 2 years before my review. So really I couldn’t understand why this came up. I asked but wasn’t given an answer that made sense. Then I questioned the “Missing Deadline on Major Projects” issue. The Major project was a major political football in the company. No one wanted to change the way they were doing things and some company VP’s went to the CEO and raised a fuss. Needless to say we were told to stop the project and it was acknowledged by my boss that it was not because of something we had or had not done but simple office politics. We had actually finished 90% of the project before we stopped. The other projects were all finished ahead of schedule.

I actually received a “Needs Improvement” on that review although 4 of the 11 criteria were “exceeds”, 6 were “meets expectations” and only 1 was “Needs Improvement” I was floored. He was supposed to average it out and it should have been an “Exceeds” When I brought that up he told me he could do what he wanted with the final rating. I had NEVER in my 25 years of working had ever received a review of “Needs Improvement”. 90% of my reviews were always “Exceeds Exceptions” or whatever the highest rating was. I let it go. If I had brought it up to HR it would have made it worse.

11 months later I was called in and told that the company was “Eliminating My Position” because they knew I was looking for a job (I was) and because I had production issues. I had no warning that I had production issues except for that review 11 months prior. I was not warned that I had “Production issues” nor was I warned to not look for a job.

I ended up in Unemployemnt court where the manager that let me go admitted that I was not a problem employee and that they let me go because I was seeking employment outside the company which by the way was not something that you could be fired for at our company. I got my unemployment since the company according to the judge “Did not have any reason to terminate my employment but in this state which is a right to work state the company does not need a reason to terminate your employment.” The company changed the reason to “Reduction in Force – Position Eliminated” and I was eligible for rehire immediately IF a position became available. I was not interested. My bosses boss was fired 6 months later when service levels plummeted in my old department. I found out later that over 20 people in my division were let go the same way I was.

2 weeks passed and I found another job through a headhunter. The job was a departmental management position and the company which was small didn’t really have a reputation to research but I was assured that the company was solid and the people that I spoke with were long term employees. I thought it was a great fit. I worked my magic just like I did at my 2 previous positions and saved the company a ton of money and came up with ways to save the company a ton more. The company’s vendors were ripping off the company by charging retail rates when we were buying in bulk. The people providing services were charging us for equipment that wasn’t even in the company and a service provider was really overcharging the company by 10’s of thousands of dollars a month. There were other issues that were covered up and there were management issues that management refused to address and pushed under the rug. This company was unethical to say the least. I felt slimy working there and yet on the outside it appeared to be a respectable business.

I went to work there on the first day and was given a list of tasks that needed to be accomplished over the next 12 months. I finished these tasks in 7 months and then proposed a new group of projects that would have saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars to my boss For the next month I answered phones and performed Customer support tasks along with my regular duties. The assigned projects were all finished and I had just proposed a bunch of new projects to the State VP’s, COO, the Comptroller, CFO and CEO. I was told “No” (actually I was told “Hxll No! by the CEO and COO. I never did understand where the anger came from because this proposal was part of a presentation to the executive board half of which had already approved the expenditures) on all these projects even though it was going to save the company millions and improve services drastically. As I said, I had already passed these projects by the CFO, the Comptroller and my boss and they agreed that these projects were great ideas. I was disappointed but just smiled and moved on. I never brought it back up. I just went back to my desk and answered phones for the rest of the day. That was a Wednesday. Friday we had Birthday cake. On Monday I was called in and told that I was being Laid Off due to economic conditions. I was given 2 weeks of severance and a Letter of Recommendation that stated that I was great employee, that I was well liked and that I was really good at my job. However the company was cutting costs because it was not meeting budgetary goals and my position was identified as not necessary at this time (Remember all my projects were completed). Several people were laid off at the same time so apparently it was a legitimate lay off. Anyway I was kind of glad it ended. Remember I felt slimy working for this company. It was not an immoral business like a house of prostitution but it was not exactly as good as running a payday lending operation.

So now I had been laid off from 2 jobs in 9 months. What could happen next right?

I was out of work for 3 months and finally found a job again through another headhunter. The job was advertised as one thing and told that it was another better thing. They liked my experience, education, training and answers to the interview questions. The job was a demotion, paid less but was still in my profession. I was thinking that it might be a long term position that would enable me to clean up my resume. The second day after I took the position my new boss quit. When he told me why he quit I was not surprised he quit. The job was terrible. He offered me the position and I told him I would do what the company needed me to do. but I really didn’t want it. It didn’t happen. The company was looking for someone with heavy experience in that industry and I didn’t have any experience in that industry. Like I said I have 25 years of experience in my field and multiple advanced degrees. The person they hired as my boss’s replacement didn’t have a degree one. He also didn’t really have any skills that were applicable to our area. He had a few years of experience in the industry and had been a manager at his last company. He also made less at his last job than I made at this company.

He came to work and I was moved to an area away from the main area. For 2 weeks I fully expected to see him come walking up and introduce himself. He never did. Finally one day he came up to my office and introduced himself. It’s not like I hadn’t tried to contact him. I called several times and stopped by his office but either he was not there or he was in a meeting. For the next 2 months I never saw him again. Then something changed and I got an email from him asking for me to stop by his office one morning. I knew what was coming. I was laid off again. I was told that I would get severance and a letter of recommendation. I received both but had to fight to get the severance. The reason given was that the company was cutting back due to economic conditions and in fact they had released several people but my area thought we were safe because there were so few of us. What the company did was to go find cheaper people to do our jobs and then laid us off. I had heard that those kind of things happened but had never seen it occur until now. The people they brought in were inexperienced and worked for a little more than minimum wage. Of course the company is really suffering but apparently they cut payroll by 50% which was their goal.

To sum up: For 23 years I had 2 places of employment. After 27 years I had 3 places of employment. 1 1/2 years later I had worked for 3 different companies in the prior 18 months.

I can’t blame any of this on immigrants taking my job nor directly on Obamacare but as a highly educated Finance Professional I can without a doubt blame it on a terrible, terrible economy that is caused by stupid policies that have decimated America. Unless we reduce the deficit and tax rates quickly, reduce the number of legal and illegal immigrants and rework Obamacare we are all going to end up “Laid-Off”.

Based on the Law of Supply and Demand, if there are just a few people seeking employment wages will go up to attract the best and brightest. If there are many people seeking employment demand for people will be lower and wages will fall. Right now we have many people seeking the few available jobs and companies are letting the well paid go and hiring the less experienced at half the pay. Simple Economics.

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This post was submitted by Knowledge Worker - MBA.

Jul 28 2011

Not A Fit For Racial Profiling…

When I am home for the summer it is always near impossible to find employment. However, I responded to a Craigslist ad for a seasonal job, and I got an interview. The interview was with the owner of the boutique, and she said that the job would last until labor day. I was upfront and said I couldn’t work until then (because of school) and she said that she would discuss me with the manager. I was hired, even after expressing doubts, but the owner assured me that she needed me.

So I work for two months in the retail industry. However, the boss is very difficult. For instance, she wanted me to circulate the overall store more, but also pay specific attention to individual (white) customers in the fitting room. I was also told to watch the Hispanics and Muslims (don’t know how you can tell what religion people are by their looks) because they were prone to shoplift. Now I know what she was doing was wrong, but I kept the job because I really needed money. It did become stressful to work though. The owner kept giving me tasks and then changing her mind and holding me accountable. However, I did everything to please her.

After two months, the manager called me in after a shift and out of the blue and told me I was being let go. The reason? I wasn’t a right fit. I guess because I refused to racial profile, I did not belong. I’m glad I’m not a right fit because I’m not going to school to be a retail slave. However, I was upset to be let go. Now my boss used to hold a Cabinet position with the state so she is well published. After doing some research I found out that she didn’t pay income taxes because she often claims losses on her business. Funny how someone can cheat the system! Well I am unemployed but I guess I learned my lesson about working for horrible people.

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This post was submitted by EC.

Feb 14 2011

How my friend was my demise and laid me off

I was best friends with a colleague where our relationship began my first day of employment. She was the first to introduce herself to me and at that point, I knew I had made a friend.

We would often have lunch together and talk about relationships, family etc. I was there for her through her relationship hardships, wedding, more hardships. She also relocated to New Jersey for a promotion and I felt as though I lost my best friend. However, I was happy for her. We reconnected at her wedding and stayed in touch for years even though we worked at different sites but at the same company.

Several years passed and the group reorganized several times. In early 2009, I found out that I would be reporting in to her but there would eventually be a manager hired who would be my boss. For several months, we had individual meetings together but it was difficult that she was my interim boss. I could not break the barrier from friendship to manager, it was quite difficult.

As the group and work progressed, we soon reorged again and I was told that I would be promoted by her and a consultant. The evening before the announcement, she called to tell me who the manager would be, and it was not me. I was clearly disappointed.

Over the next several months, lots of inequities in workload and behavior had inhibited our group and lots of rumors about layoffs. The consultant that was hired over me even told me that there would be layoffs and he was worried for me. I was a bit in disbelief and unsure if it was going to be me or not since I had alot responsibility and experience, I thought it was unlikely.

Then on that dreaded day, I came into work, the day there were going to be layoffs. I had a 15 minute meeting on my calendar with an office number. I immediately looked up the number and found that it was in Human Resources and the person in attendance would be her, my friend, my colleague.

I walked into the room and she was there sitting in the back of the room. She said, “Your job has been eliminated and your last day of employment would be December 31, 2010”. I was devastated.

To think a friend, so I thought, would be my demise. It has only been a month but I am still having difficult comprehending all that has transpired. After a 10 year friendship, loyalty to the company and all I have done, I was laid off.

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This post was submitted by Lisa.

Oct 26 2010

Meet the New Art Director…

After graduating from college in 2001 with my degree in Graphic Design, I landed a great job with a clothing catalog company. This company hadn’t been around very long, and they needed a graphic designer to help build their catalog up. Of course I was thrilled with the challenge!

I had an amazing boss…the best boss I have ever had. She valued me, and I valued her…it was a wonderful relationship. She wasn’t an Art Director, but the Marketing VP, and we would bounce ideas off each other. She gave me total creativity…it was great!

Through the years, the department grew, and I became the Senior Graphic Designer…I even had an assistant. We worked really well together.

End of Year 7 – my boss and the owner had a falling out. It was quite unfortunate because they were really good friends, and I was surprised that this happened. My boss was so distressed that she quit her job, but then reconsidered and asked for it back, but by then it was too late.

The owner ensured everyone in Marketing that their job was safe as long as we were loyal to him. Of course at that time, the economy was in turmoil and there was no way I was going to leave the job even if I wanted to!

After my boss left, I proved to the owner that I could still complete the catalog with the help of the Marketing Assistant Graphic Design Assistant…we worked out tails off…and it looked great! I felt confident that my job would remain intact.

A few weeks later, the owner called us in and told us that they hired a new Art Director. Usually they would notify me if they were thinking of adding someone to the team…not this time! I was shocked and confused because as Sr. Graphic Designer, I felt I did an amazing job, but the owner wanted Marketing and the catalog to go in a new direction, so he hired an Art Director…we’ll call her “Witch.”

Witch told me that we would be completely changing software for the catalog layout. I had worked with same software for 8 years, and now they were changing it…and I was not notified until Witch came on board.

I requested that I be sent to class to learn this software ASAP so I can help out with the catalog right away, but Witch said, “Oh I can teach you” and “Let me know if you have any questions – I’d be happy to help!” Hmmm…so through the weeks, Witch did no such thing even after I requested her help. At times after asking her a question, she would bitterly reply, “I have no time to babysit you!” Wow…her true self was coming out.

I decided to pay for an online course in order for me to learn this software on my own.

The owner wanted to see some new mock-ups for the catalog, and so as I learned the software, I came up with some awesome layouts. When I told Witch about them, she said, “No, I will present MY ideas to the owner first. If he wants to see something different, then we can show yours.” I was in shock.

I had a very bad feeling in the pit of my stomach especially since my responsibilities as Senior Graphic Designer were slowly becoming hers. In the end, my task was reduced to renaming all of the hundreds of files in the file catalog…I knew something wasn’t right.

Last spring, HR called me into their office. I was never called into their office – I was a great employee! I figured it had something to do with my 401K. When I saw the CFO sitting in the office too, I knew something was wrong.

“Well, we have some bad news. We have to let you go.” JUST LIKE THAT! I was in complete shock! I demanded to know who did this to me. They said that “Witch” told the owner that she could handle my job and hers by herself and I am not needed. So 8 years gets crushed by a person who did not even have their first review yet. I asked to see the owner, but they said he left for the day…”figures” – and that’s what I said. I was escorted by HR down the long hallway, & as I passed by Witch’s office I shouted “Thanks lot!” I wanted to add one more word starting with the letter “B” at the end of the sentence, but unfortunately it didn’t come out. Witch couldn’t even look at me…

As I packed up my things, my Marketing friends came to see me. I warned them that Witch was not who she seemed…that she had a mean streak to her…and that she would have a hard time by herself.

The weeks went on and I got some news through the grapevine. One day Witch through a major hissyfit because she couldn’t find some files…well duh…I hadn’t finished renaming the hundreds of images…LOL!

About a month later, justice was served! I was notified by my former boss (the one that was awesome!) who was notified by the photographer of the company that Witch was FIRED!!! Wicked had confronted the Marketing Assistant (who was promoted to my former boss’s position) and majorly yelled at her in the parking lot. I’m not sure what the reasoning was behind it, but the next day, Witch was given her walking papers…and she flew away on her broomstick!

I felt closure, and for the first time since I was laid off, happiness!

Today I am working as a freelancer and am doing well. Of course I took a big pay cut, but I’m content with my life.

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This post was submitted by Genvieve.

May 12 2010

Disability – Will Get You Laid Off

Many of you have noted, that you’ve worked for a company for 5 – 7 years. I worked for Bank One (now JPMorgan Chase) from being a temp hire 10/2005 to permanent hire 1/2006. Of course, all of the rules were followed: don’t call in sick unless you are dying; don’t use phone for personal purpose; don’t use your breaks for smoking; etc.

I only started with Bank One to feed my then 1 year old daughter. I was hired through the “Mormon Network” so to speak. The Bank One call center was close, the pay above average, and management was phenomenal.

I was promoted via my manager’s transfer, or through an internal customer manager until the end of my tenure there. Unfortunately, my ex-husband had caused me problems and thus I had to leave work often. However, I was still within the top 2 performing personnel despite having to leave work early, etc. This is out of an average of 15 other representatives. I would say that’s pretty darn good!

In addition to my ex-husband going to prison and ruining our community property, my youngest daughter was diagnosed with Autism. Now please keep in mind folks, that Bank One/JPMorgan Chase is supposed to be one of the greatest places to work for single women with children….right?

WRONG! Once Chase took over, my annual rating of 3.5 – 4.0 on a scale of 0 – 5 (and we all know a 5 is impossible) went to a 1! All of my years of hard work and making up for the time I had to unavoidably miss due to these issues did not matter at all. At the end of my career there, I had to have surgery that was unavoidable. This contributed significantly to my demise.

I had a co-worker who was also on FMLA leave having her child when she too heard the news that she was being laid off in addition to me. CAN YOU IMAGINE????? Having your baby in your arms and getting that call???

It seems that most of these high and mighty companies did the same thing: they laid off the most expensive employees. The ones that actually used their health insurance, used their short term disability, used their allotted time off….

I still don’t understand how they repeatedly get named “Women’s Corporation of the Year” or “Best Place for Single Parents to Work” in awards placed by supposedly won via awards presented by Forbes, etc.

You get my meaning….

If I am able to maintain an above average skill set as established by my employer and unfortunately am required to use my …. FMLA …. then why am I the one who gets laid off?

1. I used time off which is inefficient per internal company standards.

2. I used FMLA time which, let’s face it, goes back to #1.

3. Was there for over 10 years…therefore my pension was @ 5% of my salary. Hmmmm…..

I believe all of you are aware of what I’m saying. I believe all of you know of a person in the SAME situation as I have been.

So, when it comes to being laid off, make sure you count in the benefits that are not really made for your benefit, but are made “for your benefit”.

Jessica in Arizona

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This post was submitted by Jessica.