How to negotiate severance after being let go from my job.
February 11, 2014 11:31 AM Subscribe
I was unexpectedly let go from my job yesterday. I’ve only been there 4 months, and it was quite a surprise. I’d like to try and negotiate severance as I haven’t signed anything yet, and was told HR would be contacting me in the next couple days. I’m not sure how to do this as this is the first time I’ve been fired.
posted by quin to Work & Money (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I need advice on negotiating severance. I’ve never had the need to so never really thought about it. I think I was unfairly (but no, not illegally) let go. I realize an employer isn’t required to pay out severance, but I also think I should make the case based on the circumstances around the dismissal.
I’d only been with the company for four and a half months. I had no idea this was coming, but I also had a sense things weren’t going well. I thought that sense was limited to how I felt about the company. (I had no idea the feeling was mutual) From my perspective, they were disorganized, and didn’t want to make the changes they hired me to implement. But I had also successfully completed a fairly major project that was thrown at me on day one, in addition to smaller projects tasked of me. I wanted to stick it out a few more months and see if it was just new job jitters, but I wasn’t happy with the way things were going.
Well it turns out the company also thought things weren’t going well, because they let me go yesterday. They wouldn’t tell me why, but said we could talk at a later date about it. I don’t know of any instance where I did anything that could be considered a reason for just cause termination. However, I did have trouble communicating with one of the bosses - my coworkers had told me he needed to be ‘handled’ a certain way, something I had not been able to grasp.
At the core of it, I feel a bit betrayed, as I left a job to go work there (going back isn’t an option) and that this company didn’t really give me any recourse to correct whatever they perceived as wrong. It wasn’t a secret I wasn’t meeting the some of goals they had set out for me at hire, but I also was very successful in other unexpected tasks I was given, including a large, enterprise level software implementation. I struggled with some of the initial goals we planned because their was a culture that was very resistant to change (in spite of wanting results that would require some drastic changes). So I don’t disagree it wasn’t a good fit, but I also think severance of some sort while I find something new is the least they can do.
To complicate matters, one of the managing owners was pretty mercurial. Everything was kind of rushed when this happened, and I don’t know if that played a part in this.
I realize there is no law requiring they give severance, so I’m seeking the best strategy for negotiating for it anyway. I have signed zero documents, nor was I asked to sign any. The termination was fairly hastily handled, I was told I wasn't working out and that I would be paid through the 31st, which I am assuming was a mistake; either they meant the 21st or they meant the end of the month. I mention these things just to show how chaotic it was. I was not given any sort of exit interview, just told to collect my stuff and go.
I don’t believe I have done anything that would be a fireable offense. I was very thoroughly vetted and didn’t misrepresent myself in any way. So thoroughly vetted that I had 6 interviews, lunches and dinners, because they said when they hire someone, they want to make sure they not only are a good fit, but will be someone they will want to work with for a long time. I was led to believe that they were overly loyal to their employees, and that was the reason for the extensive vetting process. I wasn’t given any indication before my termination that they were going to do anything of the sort.
Another possible complication is that my wife has health issues and there were times I needed to be available to take her to doctors. I was very clear about this at the start of the hiring negotiation, and they informed me that it would not be a problem. I don't know if it ever WAS a problem, but this goes into the part where I feel if they did have an issue they both should have spoken to me and and is another area that if it is the case, they really misled me, hence my belief that at least morally, the company should pay severance.
Of course none of this helps if the company is dead set against severance, but I’d like to at least make a case for severance based on hiring me away from a long term job and the various promises and subsequent excuses I was given.
The company is smallish- around 50 employees. They’ve been in business for 20 years and are in the it sector. I left a similar position with a much larger company where I worked for close to 10 years.