I Have No Idea Why I Was Just Fired

by Evil HR Lady on October 12, 2018

I am hoping you can help me understand this. I have worked as a contract worker (meaning no benefits, and being paid by the recruiter’s company). 
 
I was working for 6 weeks, and then I get a call after 5:00 p.m. from the recruiter who tells me my assignment ended, and that the place I was working for does not want me to show up for work the next day.
Of course, I ask why? And I am told, ” you were not a good fit.” 
What does that mean? And that gives me no information to go on. 
 
Should I call my manager who I worked with and ask them what is going on and why was I let go? It’s important for my peace of mind to know WHY I am being let go. I was working part-time 3 days a week. I wasn’t late, I worked my hours, I was doing well I thought. There was not an inkling of anything that could have prepared me for this news. 
 
Can you tell me why a contract position could end so abruptly and why they never want to tell you the reason? This job was supposed to go through December with a possibility of renewal. It was only 6 weeks in. 
 
What do you think is going on? 
Why are they afraid to say what it is? If they are afraid of a lawsuit,  why is that? How could I sue anyone? We are at an AT WILL state of California. 
 
I think the least they could do is tell us, contractors, why they are letting us go. For better or worse, it’s helpful to know WHY. 
Well, I can’t tell you specifically why you were let go, but I can guess and I can explain why they didn’t say anything. There are a zillion reasons why the assignment (I’m not using the word job on purpose) ended abruptly.
  • Your work wasn’t up to their standard and they were too wimpy to say anything.
  • The boss’s nephew just lost his job and the very nice uncle kicked you out to hire him.
  • Someone three rungs up the ladder’s position was eliminated, so she took someone else’s job, who took, someone else’s job, and that person took yours.
  • Your manager just didn’t like you.
  • The manager’s husband just didn’t like you.
  • They ran out of money.
  • They decided to hire someone to fill the position permanently that they liked better than you.

I can keep going all day.

You’re right that California is an at-will state, which means they can fire you for any reason or no reason, but you weren’t technically fired because you weren’t technically hired. You were given an assignment as a temp, and that assignment ended early. There’s no damage to your resume, by the way, simply put “temporary job” and when asked why you left you write “assignment ended.” You don’t need to explain any of the drama that went into it.

You can absolutely ask the recruiter but she probably won’t tell you. Remember, she gets paid by the company to place people. She wants to maintain that relationship. She’s not as invested in you. It’s a sad fact of temporary labor.

Asking your manager probably will go nowhere. What’s the upside for her? There’s nothing she can say that you’ll be able to respond with “Oh, there has been a misunderstanding! I actually can use Excel!” and then she’ll say, “Great! We’ll see you tomorrow at 9:00.” That ain’t happening. If she says, “your work was substandard” you’ll feel bad and maybe try to defend yourself. If she says, “you sound like Janice from Friends” that won’t be nice either. She could say “the project ran out of money,” but that doesn’t help you fix any problems and it may or may not be true.

Now, what you can do is send her a short email that says,

Jane,

Thanks so much for the opportunity to work with you! I really enjoyed my work at [company]. Should you ever need someone again, please keep me in mind.

Thanks so much,

Heidi.

Include your contact info. It probably won’t help you immediately but it does preserve the relationship and demonstrates that you understand the very nature of a temp job. They come and they go. People hire temps because the job may end. They like having someone else handle the termination as well–it’s emotionally easier to call the temp agency and say “we don’t need Heidi any more” than it is to say to you directly, “Heidi, we don’t need you anymore.”

I don’t think your manager is showing a fear of lawsuits here. I think she’s just acting like she always does towards temps. When she doesn’t need you any more, you’re gone. No muss, no fuss.

So, the thing to do here is move on. Yes, it sucks. Yes, warning would have been nice. Yes, it would have been great if the position could be extended. But, it wasn’t.

 

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff October 12, 2018 at 1:45 pm

Because many people are terrible managers and treat others like crap.

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Jim Grey October 12, 2018 at 2:45 pm

This happened to me once. I picked up a consulting gig writing manuals for a software company. I had a day job; they let me come in at night. I thought I was delivering fine but one day the manager called, said they weren’t happy with my work, and said I didn’t need to come in anymore. No further explanation would be given. Stung, but that’s the nature of this game.

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colleen October 12, 2018 at 3:24 pm

The statement “She’s (recruiter) not as invested in you. It’s a sad fact of temporary labor.” is not quite accurate in my world. As a recruiter, we are focused on cultivating relationships with talent, which will potentially increase ROI. If we were not invested in a candidate then why would we want them representing our work and company? Maintaining relationships with the client is key, but priority is matching candidates with the best company and work environment. Recruiters have certain pressures to close deals, and these pressures impact how they interact with candidates, clients, and employers. The best and most successful recruiters work very hard to be professional and honest with their candidates.
I love receiving your emails! Thanks for all the info!!

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Jill Kawala October 12, 2018 at 3:24 pm

We tend to have an attitude today that, in all situations, we must have Closure. But this situation is proof that sometimes, you just aren’t going to get it. Trying to contact the old manager to push back…or pressing your recruiter too aggressively for an explaination will make you look out of touch and unprofessional – and naiive to the norms of temp work. Your time and energy will be better spent focusing on making your next assignment/job happen.

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Doug D October 12, 2018 at 3:49 pm

Is there no reasonable way to ask the recruiter how one might improve to be a better fit for future assignments?

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Jen October 12, 2018 at 4:18 pm

That is exactly what I was thinking. I would just ask the recruiter if there is anything that I could do differently on my next assignment to make sure that this sort of thing isn’t likely to happen again. It doesn’t hurt to ask and it is in the recruiter’s best interest to try and coach the candidate if they want to be able to place them for future assignments/positions.

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Dorothy October 12, 2018 at 4:28 pm

I disagree that the LW should ask the supervisor at the company. Any questions should go to her contact at the contractor agency.

One reason companies use contract is so they don’t have to go through this very drama. Is it nice? I. Is it the way the system works? Yes.

Frankly, the LW needs to grow thicker skin. Her question is analogous to the one from the dating world about why there will be no second date, and the answer is the same: He’s just not that into you.

You can press the contracting agency rep fir more info, although I’d be very calm and professional. (The letter sounds whiny and desperate, but perhaps it was edited.) I’d phrase your query as self-development so whatever-it-is will not be an issue in future

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MariaRose October 12, 2018 at 6:27 pm

Part of the name of temp work is the word temporary plus this job was in an At Will employment state so no reason has to be given to stop employment. I just question the timing of the notice (5pm at end of work day). There’s no follow up or reason needed to stopping employment all covered by laws in place. It is a risk of working in an At Will employment state. All those needing “closure “ to satisfy their feelings should accept reality.

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Jenny Boxer October 12, 2018 at 8:02 pm

Firms often hire temps to try them out without a big commitment.

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Anonforthis October 13, 2018 at 4:16 am

Our manager planned a project badly and hired more contractors than we could afford. Once this became clear, some contractors who were going over and above in their efforts to support our project were fired on a day’s notice. They were told nothing. They deserved better and maybe LW did too. Some people seem to think that “contractor” means “disposable.”

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Nacho October 14, 2018 at 3:00 am

This happened to me too, except instead of calling me the company came up to me 5 minutes before my shift ended and told me to turn in my badge, and that I shouldn’t show up for work anymore.

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PJ October 15, 2018 at 10:40 pm

This happened to me as well. Manager told me I could work out the day, and then not come back. Then spent an hour (not hyperbole) telling me how hard she had it that her husband had been laid off. I listened politely and refrained from telling her how lucky she was that unlike me, she still had an income in her household. My agency was surprised to learn I’d been let go when I told them — she hadn’t said anything to them.

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Julie October 17, 2018 at 4:00 pm

I work in HR in another at-will state and I can tell you that even though California is an at-will state, many employers are still hesitant to give the exact reasons, beyond very obvious ones (blatant policy violation, customer harm, etc) because it could set them up for a lawsuit.

Even if the employee doesn’t win, there is still a monetary cost associated with having to prepare for a trial plus the news coverage could tarnish the company’s reputation.

I’ve never had to let anyone go without having a good reason, however, when rejecting interviewees I always stick with a bland phrase like “decided to pursue another candidate.” So, you’re unlikely to get the closure you want. Chalk it up to life and move on to bigger and better things.

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