I was recently laid off from my job. Before that time I was continuously employed for about 7 years or so. Essentially, I have been working continuously since I got my first decent job out of college.
The way in which I was let go was very strange, and I will describe in some detail how it went down, because it is absurd and the actions taken by my employer were and are quite inappropriate.
First off, I had been working for this particular employer for 11 months or so. I did good work for them, by their own statements and continued acknowledgements of the quality of my work.
I am a very straightforwards person. I believe in obeying the rules and doing what is right. The company I worked for is pretty large, and as any large company, has a lot of bureaucracy and 'red-tape' as they call it. I personally find that sort of thing to be a hindrance to getting work done efficiently, and I repeatedly objected to the ridiculous rules when they did not make sense and caused problems. Note that even though I objected, I followed the rules, and also pointed out when other members of my team were attempting to bend and avoid the rules.
Multiple times during my employment I was ordered by my superiors to do things that I know other departments and people at my workplace would object to. Essentially, I was aware that my superiors were themselves attempting to get around the rules in order to get work done. I repeatedly objected to this and pointed out that I would do as they asked but that I did not think it was appropriate and that it would cause problems for them down the line. Note that I did not do anything that went against company policy, just things that I do not think were the right course of action.
Also, security at the company is stated to be extremely important, but ultimately is quite lax in that there are serious security problems. As I became aware of the holes I pointed them out diligently to my superiors, so that they could fix the problems. I was ignored by various people when pointing out the problems, and had to raise the issues multiple times to get attention to them and have anything done about the problems.
Due to my insistence that things be done right, and pointing out security problems repeatedly, I was looked upon poorly and did not win friends at the place of my employment. This caused tension between me and my superiors, to the point of my bosses boss finally stating "I know that you care very much about doing things right, but you really need to stop. I cannot have you continue to bring up problematic issues." I stated that pointing out the problems was the only way I could get things done unless I was allowed to make decisions without having them endlessly questioned. He stated at that time "Do whatever you have to do; just get it done." Essentially, I pointed out the rules so much that I was ordered to stop worrying about the rules and just do whatever I needed to do.
I continued on from that point, doing what is right, while attempting to follow the rules and doing what was asked of me efficiently.
Six months into my employment, I was approached by the same person, my bosses boss, and asked if I would like to work directly for the company. ( I worked there through a consulting company ) I said yes, that I would like to do so. He said he would work on getting me hired directly.
Nothing happened about this. I asked what was going on with my being hired repeatedly. I asked about every month or so. I total I think I asked them again about it 4 times. Each time I asked I was reassured that I would be hired on as soon as possible, and it was just being held up by internal bureaucracy.
Right before I was let go from the company I took a vacation. My sister is not from the usa, and we visited her home country for 2 weeks. The time difference is quite large, so I like to stay for 2 weeks at least so I am not jetlagged the entire time I am there. She is still there, she is staying for an additional month to visit with her family more. I had to come back to the usa for my job.
Before I left for vacation I had to wrap up what I was working on for my team project, so that the rest of the team would not be held up while I was gone. I did so, documenting everything I could so that the team would have all of the information they needed to continue work.
Before I left for vacation, all of the stuff assigned to me in regard to the current phase of the team project was essentially complete. The only thing holding up the current phase of the project was work by another team member, who I will call Jacob. Jacob was assigned the database portion of the project, and had desired from the beginning to use a NoSQL solution.
The rest of the team all would like to use a SQL based solution, and all of us, including Jacob, are familiar with SQL and relational database design. Before I left on vacation, Jacob was 2 weeks behind in his delivery of his portion of the project. Truth be told, he was 3 weeks behind, but he was tasked to things besides the project, so we will say he was 2 weeks behind.
I am very close to another member of the team, who I will call Ethan. I have known Ethan for about 5 years now, and I am the one who pulled got him to work with us. He was hired due to my suggestion. He only came to work with us because he wanted to work together with me.
Before I left for vacation, both myself and Ethan went and talked to our direct superior, who I will call William. We explained to him that the database portion of the project was behind schedule, and that we believe NoSQL should not be used and SQL should be used instead. We stated that we know Jacob has put a fair amount of effort into getting his NoSQL solution to work, so we would wait 2 weeks out while I was on vacation to see if he made progress on the database stuff. If progress was made, then it is fine. If progress was not made, we said that we need to switch to a SQL based solution.
William, our boss, listened and seemed to be fine with this. I went on vacation. When I returned from vacation, on Monday I learned everything that had been done and what progress was made on the project. Little to no progress was made by Jacob on the database stuff. During our team meeting with William on Tuesday, I pointed out that we need to move to a SQL based solution.
The whole team consists of myself, Ethan ( my friend ), Jacob, and an entry level guy named Alex. The team meeting is just the 4 of us and William.
When I asked to switch to SQL I was directed that was unacceptable by William, and Jacob claimed that he has made progress and near to a solution with NoSQL. That is a bald faced lie, and all of us on the team are aware that it is a lie, except for William. William believes Jacob, because he has known him the longest. Jacob is the only member of the team that works directly for the company, the other 3 of us, myself, Ethan, and Alex, all work through the same consulting company.
William told me that I don't understand what is going on and I need to take more time to catch up on what happened while I was gone. I was basically told to drop it and that nothing would be done by William at this point. After that was said, Ethan stepped in and started supporting my position and stating that we need to switch, and mentioned the meeting we had before I was on vacation.
When Ethan was done talking, Alex also chimed in and said that we need to switch, backing us up as well. Even with 3/4 of the team members saying to switch to SQL instead of NoSQL, our boss William refused to budge.
Our boss, and Jacob, were in private meetings after that meeting throughout the rest of Tuesday. The rest of us weren't sure what was going on. The next day we were told by Jacob that we would be moving to SQL, and we all began working together to do so.
I was not happy with the way my opinion was devalued and ignored at first, and how I was also not involved in the discussions that led to SQL being accepted, so I went to my bosses boss, Daniel, to speak with him.
When I spoke with him I explained the situation. I also explained that I understand that I am viewed as a hothead, but that I care greatly about the project and these changes need to happen. I objected to how I was not treated as a professional. Daniel acknowledge that the situation was handled poorly, and said that William just had a bad day and that I should let it go. He also said that he does not view me as a hothead, and that even though multiple people have come to him complaining about how I act, that he supports me and believes that I am just very passionate about my work. He reassured me, and then asked that if I have any problems that I should just bring them up more often in meetings, that that would not be a problem at all.
I then said that if I should bring up things, that I would like to know why I have no been hired on directly yet. I asked if it had anything to do with them thinking I am too emotional or whatever. Daniel stated that no it had nothing to do with that, and that they simply don't have the position available yet, and that as soon as he could that he would certainly hire me on directly. I thanked him and went back to work.
This was on Wednesday, during the middle of the day. The whole team was at peace, working towards a SQL solution, and I had been told I would be hired on directly as soon as possible. Good day.
I come in on Thursday, and continue working as normal. I was still a bit annoyed about how things are handled by my superiors, and the security issues I have pointed out before have never been fully addressed. Also, I was a bit nervous still about the whole situation, and wanted to talk to HR to talk about all of these things and get some guidance as to how to continue. I did not want to continue ruffling feathers with anyone, and wanted some direction from HR. I sent an IM to another employee under William named Lucas. There are a number of people who work under William. Lucas is sort of a middle manager who helps directly the employees who work under William.
I contacted Lucas and asked if he knew who I should speak to for HR matters, considering I work through a consulting company. He said I should talk to William or Daniel, my superiors. I said that the issues have been reported to them, and have not been handled appropriately, and that I needed to talk to HR. I asked him not to involve William or Daniel. He said he would get back to me.
I then sent an email to my contact at the consulting company, Robert. I asked Robert for HR contact information, saying that I needed to talk to them.
I did not receive any information back on who to talk to in HR, either from Lucas, or from Robert.
What I did receive though was an inviation to a meeting with William entitled "Discussion." I do not know what the meeting was about. Shortly before the meeting time, William cancelled the meeting. About half an hour later I get a call from Daniel ( William's boss ). Daniel asks if I can come by his office immediately. I say sure. I save various files and stuff and get ready to head over there. Daniel calls back and says he is busy now and if I can meet him a bit later. I say sure and go back to work.
About an hour passes and it is getting near lunch time. I call Daniel up and ask if we can meet after lunch. He says no that he needs to talk to me before lunch. I am frustrated, because I don't want to wait around work during my lunch time, but I accept and just wait.
Fifteen minutes into the time when I would normally eat lunch, I get a call from Robert, my contact with the consulting company. He says he is in the lobby and would like to go out to lunch with me. I say alright and go out to talk to him ( thinking it is because I asked to speak to HR earlier ).
He is with another person, who he introduces as Nolan. Nolan is apparently the replacement for the person who originally hired me on at the consulting company. I am not sure why he is there, but just figure it doesn't matter, since Robert often stops by the company and is with random other people.
We go out to lunch. I drive to lunch with Robert, whom I trust, and Nolan drives seperately. I ask Robert if Nolan can be trusted, and he says that he can, but that he still works closely with the company so I should be somewhat careful.
At lunch Robert informs me that the company has ended my employment with them. The only reason they have been told is that I was let go because they were afraid of how smart I am. This is obviously a bullshit reason, and not the real one. I do not know exactly why I was let go. I ask Robert and Lucas, they do not know why, and state that they have simply been told that my employment has ended. They both tell me that I can get unemployment. They are pretty much laughing at my employer, saying it is stupid for them to get rid of me.
Nolan states that he thinks he can easily find another job for me, paying 20% more than what they were paying me. That sounds perfectly good to me, and I accept the entire event somewhat well. Both Robert and Nolan were very happy about my reaction, and pleased I did not flip out or anything.
There is more to the story from here, but essentially, on a Wednesday I was told by my company that they love me, on Thursday I was let go for no seeming reason. The only thing I did between Wednesday and Thursday was ask to speak to the HR department.
Seem odd to you? Seems odd to me too.
As I stated earlier, I am very close to Ethan, who continues to work at the company on the project. He was able to observe what happened after I was let go. What happened is that they immediately came to my desk and took my pc away. There were useful files to the rest of the team on the pc; they actually wanted to get some of them off for project use shortly after that. They couldn't. The pc was taken away, for reasons unknown.
I have seen multiple people let go before while I was employed there. Their computers were not taken away, in fact, I inherited a laptop with all of the old crap from a previous employee during my work there. It is pretty unusual for them to take the computer away.
Also, another interesting thing to note is that Jacob and Alex were both surprised and somewhat shocked that I was gone. They did not expect that I would be let go. I suspect that Jacob was involved somewhat in the considerations to let me go, but I don't think he knew that any of his discussions would lead to my employment there being ended.
I have annoyed a fair number of people at my employment at the company, so I would not have been surprised several different other times if I was let go, but the particular timing of when and how it happened does not make sense and does not correspond sensibly with what I know about the people who are employed there.
I believe that in bringing up security issues repeatedly, and refusing to back down, I pissed someone off in their security department. I believe that someone said untruthful things about me, claiming that I was stealing company data.
After my termination, Jacob heard some discussion about them speculating about "how much" data I could have taken or something along those lines. I really don't know why I was let go. I did nothing wrong. I didn't take any company data. Everything I did I did in an attempt to be a good employee, and I was never told that I had done anything wrong. I have been advised multiple times to tone down my attitude a bit, but never outright reprimanded for anything.
Whatever led to my termination, it seems to me that it would be more sensible to have a conversation with me before letting me go.
The only situation I can see that would lead to not letting me know what was going on is that they really believed I was stealing company data, and they didn't want to "tip me off" so they got rid of me suddenly so they could analyze my computer and try to determine what data I have stolen. Unfortunately such a situation is ridiculous. I didn't steal any data.
You might think I am reading into this way too much, but I don't think that I am. I think that a very strange set of events led up to my being let go. You might be thinking "so what, people are let go all the time, why should it be such a big deal that you were let go?"
Let me take a bit an address this point. I don't think that letting my go was an easy decision, and I think that it hurts the company a lot to do so. I will explain why. I was initially hired by the company to help them attempt to use some 3rd party software that they purchased. The company bought the software for 1 million dollars, and had paid already for 1 year of support at a cost of 100k, even before they brought me on to help them. I attempted to help them use the product for about 5 months.
After 5 months of work, it became clear that the product did not meet their needs and could not be used whatsoever. So, myself and my coworker ( Jacob at the time ) told the company we could create a product ourselves that would do what was needed, effectively taking the places the software they bought was supposed to filled.
We were allowed to go ahead with creation of that software. We hired 2 new people ( my friend Ethan, and Alex ) and were allowed to work on the project up until I was let go ( 6 months ). During that time I created the application framework that allows the software to work, and the rest of the team created the initial basic UI and some of the application code itself for the software.
I was essentially the leader of the project for the 6 months we did development. I was always the first to speak up in meetings. I was the one the rest of the team came to when they were unsure what they should be doing, or how they should be doing whatever it is they were trying to do.
Also, let me not forget. I wrote all of the original specifications for the project. I wrote the breakdown plan of how the software would be developed and what phases would be needed during development. I was the senior architect, and without me there would not even be a plan to develop the software.
By letting me go, they let go the designer and team lead on their project. I have heard the budget of how much money was spent on us during those 6 months of development. About 500k.
Now that I have been let go, I have heard from Ethan that they are dumping the application core I wrote and starting over on the project from scratch almost. They are essentially dumping 4 months of development time. Everything I worked on for the last 6 months was essentially scrapped. I'd estimate the cost of doing that at about 250k. By letting me go, the company is essentially taking a 250k loss.
Lets reiterate what happened. I worked for 11 months for the company. I helped them begin development on a project designed to replace a software product they paid 1 million dollars for. The project was going according to the plan that I designed and the team was essentially functioning fine with me as the leader of it. I was told on a Wednesday that they loved my work, and would hire me on as a direct employee asap. On the very next day I was let go with no warning and no explanation.