I Got Fired in My Dream Last Night, and My Dream Boss Did It Wrong

by Evil HR Lady on March 26, 2020

Do you have stress dreams? I do. They used to be that it was the end of the semester and I’d forgotten about a class and now I was going to flunk it. Or, I couldn’t remember my locker combination. Lately, they’ve been about moving (since I moved in September), where I need to be out of my apartment the next day but I haven’t packed anything. Oy! I wish my brain would use downtime to do something other than stress out.

But, last night, I dreamed I got fired. This is kind of funny because as a soloprenuer, I can have a client end a contract, but I can’t really get fired. Anyway, the thing that annoyed me the most about this stress dream is how poorly my dream manager handled it. Here’s what happened and what went wrong.

My manager was at a conference and so a consultant called me into her office and said, “You and all the other individual contributers are fired.”

I was upset, so I asked why, and she said, “because we’re doing something different.”

I wanted to talk to a manager, but ALL the managers were at this conference, so all of us non-managers were fired together.

No paperwork. No reasonable explanation. Just you and everyone else are fired.

Then there was something involving an umbrella, but I can’t really remember, because dreams are weird.

So, here’s what’s wrong with this.

  1. Managers should never, ever, have someone from the outside do the terminations. I know my brain didn’t think this up on its own–that was the whole George Clooney in Up in the Air schtick. Fun fact: George Clooney’s Italian house is only four hours away and in the midst of the Coronavirus nightmare. No idea if he’s there.
  2. Managers shouldn’t hide. Sending all the managers to a conference so that no one could talk about the termination was a really crappy thing to do.
  3. There should be paperwork. This termination was a clear layoff–as stated by the consultant–it was due to a business decision and affected everyone at my imaginary level. That means, that I, as an over 40 person, should, at minimum have been given a disclosure that showed the ages and job titles of the people in the group–affected and unaffected. (Edit: Granny bunny points out in the comments that this is only necessary when severance and a release is involved under ADEA which my bad imaginary company did not.) Some states require termination paperwork. At a minimum, they should have had some papers for me.
  4. There was no severance. Severance isn’t required in most cases. We’ll assume this was due to the Coronavirus, so it’s considered an act of God and not covered under WARN, even if it would normally be required. But, if you don’t give any notice, morally, you should give severance. (Not generally legally required, but morally.)
  5. I didn’t get time to clean out my desk. This is evidenced by the umbrella incident. Don’t hover over employees as they clean out their stuff. Give them the option to come back on a different day if they want to. For a layoff, you don’t need to pack up and ship their stuff. You trusted them five minutes ago, trust them now.

So, that was my weird dream. I hope you all are sleeping better and not having stress dreams about being fired. And if you are, I hope your brain does the termination properly.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

grannybunny March 26, 2020 at 11:58 am

What is your authority for claiming that someone over 40 is entitled to ” a disclosure that showed the ages and job titles of the people in the group–affected and unaffected”? I’m an EEO professional, handling, among other things, age discrimination claims, and I have never heard of such a thing.

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Evil HR Lady March 26, 2020 at 12:35 pm

Under ADEA, but you’re right that it’s only necessary when there’s a severance waiver. I’ll edit because I made it clear that my imaginary company did not offer me severance.

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MtnLaurel March 26, 2020 at 3:09 pm

I have been having stress related nightmares for the past week. I think it’s the pandemic.

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Lyn March 26, 2020 at 7:09 pm

I was just terminated via telephone. My manager didn’t even follow up with me; he sent me an email making sure I wrapped up everything/left instructions for my replacement. Your dream wasn’t a dream, it’s all too often reality.

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grannybunny March 30, 2020 at 3:24 pm

My instructions for my replacement — under those circumstances — would be, “Your job search may not be over; were I you, I would continue looking for a decent job.”

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SenatorMeathooks March 28, 2020 at 10:37 pm

Why on Earth does he think that you should be leaving instructions for your replacement when he terminated you via email? That’s his problem.

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