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Know Who You Just Fired

By SEWilco in Culture
Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 04:30:39 PM EST
Tags: Security (all tags)

When people are laid off, a company has to use the proper procedure. Some disgruntled high-tech ex-employees have caused damage. Most haven't.

When an employee is given notice that their job is terminated, some employees are escorted while they get their personal possessions and go out the door. Some employees are just given two weeks of notice and go about their business until it's time to leave. The escort treatment should be used when it's thought to be necessary to protect company property, although some companies simply use it on everyone.

The link above points out some examples of malicious mischief by former employees. It does seem like a good idea for the security and network staff to be notified when someone has been given notice and there should be procedures for protecting the computing infrastructure. These procedures will be more complex for the people who had the most privileges.

Obviously most people behave rationally - or this would not be news. When I was laid off due to a business lull recently, I got two weeks' notice and I continued as the local network administrator. Indeed, I also set up a new server and utilities during that time and activated a new service during my final hours there.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


What do you do when you get laid off?
o Get more stamps for mailing resumes 22%
o Laugh at my boss 16%
o Show up at the office as a volunteer 2%
o Order pizza for everyone 8%
o Vanish into the nearest bar 23%
o Vanish into the nearest trade show 0%
o Accept the most recent offer that I turned down 14%
o Order pizza and rent all of 'Roots' now that I have time 12%

Votes: 85
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o ex-employe es have caused damage
o Also by SEWilco

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Know Who You Just Fired | 19 comments (16 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
Exit premium ? (3.80 / 5) (#4)
by Highlander on Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 07:03:07 AM EST

Well, managers get exit money (don't know the right english word) when they are chucked out of their job, why not normal employees ?

Moderation in moderation is a good thing.
Depends on your terms of contract (4.14 / 7) (#5)
by StrontiumDog on Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 07:09:18 AM EST

I believe that in the US severance pay is dependent on contractual terms, and is not enshrined in law.

Of course, the more important you are, the more likely your contract will include some kind of compensation arrangements for termination.

Well, managers get exit money (don't know the right english word)

If you are important enough, it's called a golden parachute. Top managers need them to ease the pain of dismissal, while they wait for their golden "hello" from the next company.

[ Parent ]

Not just about 'importance'. (4.00 / 1) (#13)
by mindstrm on Mon Jun 11, 2001 at 11:33:52 AM EST

Remember, a contract is the record of the results of a negotiation. You get these packages because you ask for them, and the company accepts (or they know you will ask and put it in anyway).

Put yourself in the company's position. You REALLY REALLY want some killer manager to come work for you (recruited from some other high paying job he already has). He's going to want some security, some insurance, in case it doesn't work out. That's what the Golden Parachute is for.

Many programmers and other low-level workers don't get this because they don't ask, and if they did, they would be told 'sorry, we'll just find someone who doesn't want it'.

[ Parent ]
Because normal employees are not important enough (4.00 / 5) (#7)
by coffee17 on Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 05:21:16 PM EST

or something like that... which is kind of odd, because the theory of middle management, to my understanding, is to handle the interruptions which would otherwise fall onto productive people ruining their productivity... But, as by this definition they are "in" the loop of communication, it is the managers who decide that management is important, and thus justifying higher salaries and better benefits (including severance benefits).


[ Parent ]

And don't forget... (4.25 / 4) (#8)
by DeanT on Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 11:09:41 PM EST

managers, not "normal employees" are the ones in the meetings deciding who is and who is not eligible for the severance package.

which is kind of odd, because the theory of middle management, to my understanding, is to handle the interruptions which would otherwise fall onto productive people
Heh. Where I work middle management is the source of most of the interruptions.


[ Parent ]

ordinary employees also get one (5.00 / 1) (#12)
by Quietti on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 04:53:03 PM EST

First, it might be educational to understand how and why managers get those packages. The concept is that, managers are hired with sweeping promisses of making it big, based upon the company's proforma value or other similar valuation. Therefore, they are lured with money. Being sacked deprives them of the expected jackpot, so they negociate themselves a suitable compensaton package upfront, in case that happens.

Now, for my topic: regular employees get it too, at least here in Finland, although in a different way. Most hi-tech companies have a non-compete clause where the employee agrees not to work for the competition for X months after leaving the company. The part that most managers apparently don't know about is, the law allows them to ask for a maximum of one month of non-negotiable non-compete time; anything above one month means the ex-employer must pay the ex-employee a financial compensation equal to the renumeration they would have received for the same period (e.g. if your non-compete clause lasts 6 months, the employer owes you a salary compensation worth 6 months). In any case, the anti-compete clause cannot ever exceed one year.

The whole point of civilization is to reduce how much the average person has to think. - Stef Murky
[ Parent ]
Quitting (4.11 / 9) (#6)
by StrontiumDog on Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 07:24:43 AM EST

It often depends on the circumstances surrounding the employee's departure. If the employee was fired, or quit after exchanging unplesantries with the management, then caution is called for. If the employee is leaving for better pastures elsewhere, or had his contract ended in good faith, then excessive caution is probably uncalled for.

At a place I worked at, a lead programmer quit in a huff. He stormed out in fury after a morning meeting. Before he returned that evening to hand in a formal resignation, his account had been disabled, root passwords had been changed, and the development disks had been subjected to an emergency backup. (I was a greenhorn at the time, and watched in amazement at the theatrics. Exactly a year later, I stormed out in much the same way. Though I did return, after a week's cooling down, to finish the job :-)

An ex-colleague of mine at my current workplace quit a year ago after a conflict with his manager. He remained two months to round up projects he was working on, we had an office party to send him off, and he remained available via the telephone to answer odd questions that came up now and then concerning the projects he had worked on. The contrast was huge.

I guess it's all about the atmosphere of trust that companies create, or fail to create, between managers and employees.

My experience is similar (4.33 / 3) (#9)
by codemonkey_uk on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 07:26:22 AM EST

In my experience to two development houses, if an employee hands in their resignation they work their notice, and get a leaving gift / party.

If, on the other hand, they are made redundant, or fired, they will be escorted out of the building and never seen again.

The one exception to this was when I worked for a small consultancy firm as a junior programmer, and the company provided accommodation near the current contract as part of the deal. When I resigned I was told to hand over my keys to the flat, and that they would not be requiring me to work my notice. I was living with my parents within 25 hours. (And giggling with glee at the prospect of a months pay for no work.)
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]

Executive Over-reaction (3.50 / 2) (#10)
by BackSlash on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 06:54:16 PM EST

I was terminated from my job as a computer programmer for a very conservitive insurance company. It came as a total shock to me, being called to Human Resources with 2 police officers in the room, the executive vice-president and an aide.

I was terminated for wondering aloud if the SWAT team were called out if I showed up with a paintball gun and started taking out executives. The group I was with was amused with this, as the daily onslaught of executive pressure was becoming unbearable. Obviously, someone in the group wasn't amused - she was frightened.

I was terminated about a week after a high-tech employee shot up his company in Boston. I never threatened any indivigual, or 'named names', rather was blowing off steam with some 'creative thinking'.

The reaction from management was unreal. My supervisor, and *his* supervisor were powerless to stop it. I was terminated from on-high, escorted out of the building in a police car, and a few weeks later was served with a restraining order.

Isn't this overreacting a bit?

I, personally, am not a violent person. I don't own a firearm, nor a cache of explosives - but to read the emergency restraining order, it sounded like I was running down the halls threatening every executive on the block.

Maybe I picked the wrong target. Maybe it was bad timing. Maybe I need to watch what I say at work. Maybe they were being cautious. Maybe my liberal ideas didn't fit in with the conservative environment.

Or maybe, just maybe, the company overreacted.

I fought the restraining order, opting to sign an agreement to the same effect. I will never set foot in the building again, and make no attempt to contact any of my former co-workers.

and that would be .. ? (2.66 / 3) (#11)
by dvNull on Sat Jun 09, 2001 at 02:58:55 AM EST

"rather was blowing off steam with some 'creative thinking'."

What was that creative thought which you expressed ?

If you can see this, then the .sig fell off.
[ Parent ]
whose problem is it (4.66 / 3) (#14)
by prostoalex on Mon Jun 11, 2001 at 04:51:23 PM EST

I thought police escorted only criminals and suspected criminals. By the way, here's another employee escorting story for you.

The practice of having employees being escorted (unless they work for CIA or Massad) has a lot to tell about the company. It tells you that
  • company doesn't know what the heck they are doing
  • company doesn't trust its own employees and people they've been around for a long time
  • company's recruiters are basically getting overpaid since they hire underqualified criminals ripping the company off and thus don't know what they are doing

Thanks for the link.. (4.00 / 1) (#18)
by Chiron on Mon Jun 11, 2001 at 10:20:42 PM EST

Probably the funniest article I've read all week.. Then again, it's only Monday, and I've only just sat down to my evening cup of coffee.. =)

[ Parent ]
I would think.. (3.50 / 2) (#15)
by enterfornone on Mon Jun 11, 2001 at 10:02:32 PM EST

Most employees would have already taken down details of important password and the like before being walked.

It get stranger when people who quit are marched. I know one guy who gave six weeks notice that he was quitting to go to a competitor. He was walked with six weeks pay. Clearly if he wanted to fuck with the company he would have done it before he gave his notice.

efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
Devil's Advocate (none / 0) (#17)
by Chiron on Mon Jun 11, 2001 at 10:19:58 PM EST

This is the rationale my brother and I came up with for the forceful escort policy.. Generally, when an employee quits, in a huff, it is because he has reached a breaking point. In anger, individuals tend to overreact, and consider various forms of vandalism. Therefore, nipping it in the bud as early as possible seems like a decent policy, in isolated cases.

Of course, what seems good in an isolated case, must be wonderful in general, right? Thank god for MBAs and overgeneralization of policy so rank and file managers don't have to think for themselves.

[ Parent ]
A Common Problem in I/T and .com's.. (5.00 / 2) (#16)
by Chiron on Mon Jun 11, 2001 at 10:15:04 PM EST

I've seen an analogue of this problem in other companies. The first company, who I won't name, so this won't look like a petty, vicious vendetta, took one look at my 30 day's notice, and had me escorted out of the building in a matter of hours, and tried desperately to slap me with a gag order not to contact my fellow employees.

They spent over an hour trying to convince me to sign that agreement, to which I simply shook my head, and informed them that I would do no such thing, especially since one of their employees was my own brother. (Who was also on the way out. Things had taken an ethical turn for the worse in our QA Department, and we had decided it was time to vamoose.)

I suppose that is merely 'safe practice' by a company who doesn't care to actually know the individual in question. During my time there, I think it was more than obvious that I function directly on my conscience and personal ethical standards. Indeed, it was these selfsame standards that caused me to decide I didn't like rubber-stamping poorly written software products. (Yes, that rumor about software companies known about 95% of the bugs in their product is true, in this case, and the marketroids callously sweep them under the rug whenever possible.)

Worse things progressed from this interval, including the Company proceeding to drag my name through the mud with my fellow employees, accusing me of absenteeism, intellectual property theft, and general laziness. My fellows, not being particularly dim bulbs, ignored the management, and to my knowledge, 85% of them left as well.

The second instance I would like to point out did not happen to me, personally, but to a co-worker, for whom we all have a very high level of respect. Our datacenter is in the process of relocation, and this individual was offered the chance to move early, and supervise the setup of the servers as they arrived, and other infrastructure concerns. He sold his house, moved his wife and three kids, and discovered two weeks later on his office desk, a pink slip.

Two months pay, a pat on the back, and a downsizing; because of the move, he fell between the cracks of an inflexible new downsizing policy. Up until that date, it was considered a possibility by members of our datacenter that we would continue on with the Company, and relocate as well.

How likely do you think it is, now? 49 individuals, not a single one, not even the director, is accepting a position on the other side.

What I/T and .com management seems to forget, is that callous handling of personnel issues, just because an individual is leaving, incurs a heavy morale cost in the fellow employees of a company. Seeing how you treat someone who is leaving, or who has placed trust in your organization, strongly affects the loyalty of other employees.

I know that I am preaching to the choir, here, but at least some of the young blood getting into the field can take this as a warning that this sort of thing happens, rather commonly, and we aren't just swapping urban legends.

Recently happened to me.. (none / 0) (#19)
by MikeFM on Thu Jun 14, 2001 at 03:07:30 AM EST

A couple months ago as I came in to work I was called into the managers office and fired.. only to be told they were rehiring me. (now is that confussing or what?) I did a project for them as a 'consultant' and then they gave me a lot of hash about not being on time finishing it. Considering they knew I'd never been a consultant in custom software before and was following their project timeline I thought it was a bit much to be upset that I took 6 weeks instead of 4 on something they weren't even going to use for months because their own internal project was over a year behind because of management problems.

So okay I figure oh well I'll just get another job somewhere else and start sending out resumes. I go to signup for my unemployment money and find out they are hassling me and saying they fired me for being tardy, having a messy desk, and poor job performance (with an additional note by management about how good my job performance was). I was tardy by 10-15 minutes a couple times a week but they knew about that transportation situation before they hired me and I worked several hours more per week than I was required to so I find that very dubious. My desk was cleaner than most. No personal artifacts other than technical books. The only mess was printouts of code I was currently debugging. The only damage done to the work area was by a managers coffee mug a few days prior to my leaving as I always used coasters for any drinks I took to my desk. I was responsible for writing at least half the new code in their Intranet and debugging most of the rest and handled all the work as the system/network admin and had just managed to move their filesharing, Intranet, website, db, and email from a hosted solution to their enw inhouse solution and everything was running well. I hardly call that shabby work -- especially since they paid me to do one last job for them from home.

So now I have no income while trying to find a new job because they are fucking me over good. I don't know why or what I could have done to piss them off but I was very loyal to them and considered them all my friends and am very hurt to have them do this to me. I never signed any NDA and know their systems and business as well as anyone so I could reasonably easy go into business against them or I know their security well enough I could turn them into mince meat. Afterall I set most of it up (by their plan) and was constantly bugging them about the numerous security holes they had but refused to address. To this day I can easily log into their systems and do anything I want from destroying backups to stealing or changing their db. I'm not a vengeful person but with them fighting to keep me frome ven having my unemployment benefits I'm very tempted just to write a short expose on their holes and post it somewhere online and let others eat them alive. I'm not sure if that is legal or not. :)

Know Who You Just Fired | 19 comments (16 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
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