There are tons of stories of getting fired offhandedly. When this situation happens to us, we can ask ourselves what is our recourse and how far can businesses go. Exploring the issue.
Regardless of individual or massive layoffs, it is always possible to do it by the book. But what are these concrete rules?
Golden rules… are not always golden
Take for example a representative working in a big manufacturing business that makes food products. The boss laid her off in a one-on-one meeting. He then asked her to give back the company car and cellphone, along with the winter tires. But, the tires were stored in another city and—surprise—she no longer had a vehicle recover them. After a heated debate, the employer agreed to pay for a taxi.
Why the urgent need to reclaim reclaime company assets? It is mainly a question of third-party liability in the event of an accident or breakage. From when an employer fires someone, the employment connection is broken and insurance will not let anyone who is not considered an employee drive the vehicle.
“The key in this type of situation is in preparation,” emphasizes Florent Francoeur, Chief Executive Officer of the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés (CRHA) [Order of Aggregate Human Resource Counsellors].
When a mass layoff happens, employers cannot always notify employees of the situation since it is guarded by secrecy. He should at least provide measures to soften the decision, like providing a taxi to return home or a moment to recover cellphone contacts. However, you must not lose sight of an employer taking all possible measures to mitigate the announcement’s impact, even if being laid off is a humiliating, unpleasant event in itself.
Marie M. was walked up to the door without having the possibility of recovering her personal effects or saying goodbye to her colleagues. Such measures are aimed at preventing, for example, the rush by colleagues or hard drive deletions.
“The idea, in this kind of individual dismissal, is to propose solutions to an employee and see together what is most suitable for him,” mentions Francoeur. The employer can offer to bring the employee’s personal effects or can give the employee a few days to recover them later and to say farewell to his colleagues.
In any case, the most humiliating way to fire someone is probably announcing it in front of everyone while yelling ‘You! Get out!’” Yes, this happens.
If you think that your dismissal was done disrespectfully, the only possible recourse left is to pursue the employer on the basis of the dismissal being done in an abusive or humiliating manner. A tribunal recently decided to grant moral damages to an employer who—even though he was fired for a good reason—received treatment that the court judged appalling.
Know that employees staying in place will see in turn the way an employer manages firings. The employer’s credibility can suffer…