update: my company is threatening to strand me out of town

Remember the person whose company was threatening to strand her at an out-of-town job site after she gave her notice? Here’s the update.

I talked with HR about everything my boss was doing and how he was threatening to take my things and leave me stranded and so they called him, and he was told that if he didn’t let me take my truck home that he had to provide me with a ride back to my house because it was requirements for my company.

He still went about 3 days without calling me, so I just left. I had written everything out in my two week notice, so I just took the chance. He didn’t say anything about me being in major trouble because he knew that I was done. They had me turn everything in to the local office, and when I did I had the manager sign a paper accounting for everything returned so if something was to go missing, I wouldn’t be at fault. It’s a good thing I did though, because my company iPhone randomly went missing, and even though they tried to say that I stole it, I had the signature to show otherwise. In the end, there was nothing that really ended too horribly. Just irritated that people in authoritative positions act so ridiculously.

{ 50 comments… read them below }

      1. Jessa*

        Very good. Exactly. Never turn in anything ESPECIALLY something you signed for in the first place, without a signature in return for it.

  1. Anon Accountant*

    You did great and good move on getting the signature. Shame on your ex-boss for acting like that.


    That’s what happens when people get their feelings all hurt and try to show their authority with retaliation. I had a boss that was fired and the company paid for his 50 mile taxi ride home. The second one that was fired years later got a ride home from a supervisor rather than taking the ride of shame.

  3. Jamie*

    The signature is a great idea for everyone, but especially when things are acrimonious as they are between the OP and her company.

    I use a form I made for when I issue equipment. It details the specs of the phones/laptop/whatever and they sign when they receive it usage agreement on same page) when they turn their stuff back in I initial the return column with the date and give them a copy – so they have a receipt.

    No way would I ever turn in anything for which I’d be held financially liable without written proof it was received in good condition.

    1. Chriama*

      I totally agree. Anytime the company gives you something that you’ll have to return, make sure you both agree on the condition it was lent in as well as the condition it was returned in.

  4. Anonymous*

    But how does he move forward without this company hampering his efforts by giving him a bad reference? Prospective employers are unlikely to believe his version of events as they always identify with other employers to the detriment of employees, and this is precisely why the whole reference check crap is just that, crap.

    1. Jamie*

      There are some bad employers out there, and this seems to be one of them, but that doesn’t negate the value in checking references.

      I’m more than happy to speak about someone’s work and give a good reference to a new employer, when I can do so.

      Some relationships end badly, but most end professionally and references are a valuable tool.

          1. Anonymous*

            Great for them but how does a prospective employee such as the OP balance the scales under the circumstances? If he delves into the murky details of his former employment, he gets slammed for being indiscreet; if he doesn’t, then the former employer takes the upper hand and sinks his candidacy. Employers, especially, HR, are notoriously risk-averse and will err on the side of extreme caution, i.e. believe fellow employers.

            1. fposte*

              It’s an obstacle, but 1) it’s surmountable and 2) it’s not the same as reference checks being crap.

              1. Anonymous*

                It’s surmountable in this economy where there are literally hundreds if not thousands of applicants for each opening?

                1. fposte*

                  Yes, it is. And there really aren’t hundreds if not thousands of applicants for *every* opening, because I don’t get that when I hire.

                  Sure, it’s harder. Lots of people have stuff that make a job hunt harder through no fault of their own. And yes, sometimes those things will make the difference between getting to an interview or to a job or not, even if they shouldn’t or if it’s illegal. But that’s not always going to be the case. And if you’re otherwise a candidate with the strong record to get to the interview stage (especially if it is from a pool of a thousand applicants), there are definitely hiring managers that will look at the totality of your record and not hold an outlier experience against you.

                  Make sure you have other strong references, and if you can get a reference from that job, whether it be a co-worker or client, that’s all the better.

                2. Allison (not AAM)*

                  And to note, when a candidate gets to the point where their references are being checked, they’ve made it past the vetting process of the total number of applicants. It won’t be a reference that gets you to that point, it will be your qualifications. And the majority of us living outside of NYC live somewhere in the middle of jaded and naive. I have to stay positive (and well-informed) during my job search. No one would want to hire me if I were to come across as negative and jaded; they want someone who will bring a positive, professional attitude. And any of my references would back me up in saying that is who I am.

            2. Jamie*

              If I were the OP I’d advise her to see who else within the company she can use as a reference. I had a lousy job with a crappy boss, fortunately his boss offered to be a reference (and he was an awesome reference).

              In the rare case where everyone in the company is horrible and you can’t find anyone to be a reference you have references from other places you’ve worked and if they insist on speaking with someone from your most current employer (and many do) just diplomatically prepare them that there may be issues with the reference.

              It’s unprofessional to bad mouth a company in an interview – totally true – but hiring managers and HR also understand that there are bad employers out there and if all of your other references are excellent it’s only one data point of many.

              If all of your jobs end badly and the majority of your references are negative that’s a much bigger problem than the fact that employers check references.

              Not to mention, even when things end badly a lot of former employers just toe the party line of verifying employment and not bashing the candidate out of fear of legal action.

              1. Chinook*

                I am thinking that, in this case, the OP may want to use the HR person they talked to as a reference since they know some of the details about why she left.

        1. fposte*

          And also to candidates, because of the structure Jamie notes. When I give a glowing reference for my former employee to somebody thinking of hiring her, that’s going to help them get the job.

    2. Female sam*

      Reference checking isn’t crap – like most things it’s simply a tool. Used well, by hiring managers who use references as another piece in the candidate’s puzzle, they are valuable. It’s if/when a hiring manager bases their hiring decision solely on one poor reference, without investigating a little or ignoring the candidate’s other, more positive references and qualities that it becomes a problem – but it’s a problem with the hiring manager, not the reference check.

      1. Anonymous*

        When I think of a ‘tool’ I think of an inanimate object in the broadest sense, bereft of and indifferent to emotion, will, faculties, bias, etc. I can’t see how getting the low-down on a prospective candidate is a ‘tool’ that benefits the employee.

        On this very board it has been stated that prospective employers routinely go outside of the list of references a prospective employee provides. Why? Certainly not to unearth even more glowing references, but the opposite.

        1. Broke Philosopher*

          Yes, because from their perspective, they want to hear the truth about a candidate. They’re not trying to “unearth glowing references,” but rather find the candidate who is the best fit for the position and company. That’s not a crime. But as it was stated above, a great reference can help a candidate land the job, so it’s a useful tool for both parties. If you could talk to someone and dodge a bullet as a result of the talk and not have to waste time and money, why wouldn’t you? On the flipside, if you had to decide between two and one had amazing references and past employers spoke well of her, wouldn’t you want to hire her?

            1. fposte*

              Nobody’s an absolute purveyor of truth. Certainly nobody’s an absolute purveyor of truth about themselves.

              On the one hand, you’re setting yourself up as a cynic, but on the other, you’re expressing what seems to me to be a naive view: that everyone should be completely believed in what they say about themselves.

              1. Jamie*

                Certainly nobody’s an absolute purveyor of truth about themselves.

                Truer words never spoken – and I’m not talking about anyone lying…it’s just perception.

                Between imposter syndrome, dunning-krueger effect, inherent nervousness of interviewing, among just the run of the mill humans being kind of myopic when it comes to ourselves.

                And to be honest I’ve been on both sides of it…I’ve mentioned strengths when giving references that the candidate themselves never mentioned – and that’s happened to me. Apparently my old boss thought a lot of my ability to work under pressure and certain intellectual strengths that it just didn’t occur to me to mention. I have a hard time selling myself, so it was nice that someone else stepped in to do it.

            2. Broke Philosopher*

              No one sees themselves from their manager’s point of view, no matter how truthful they are or want to be. You didn’t answer the question: wouldn’t you want to know whether a candidate’s past managers raved about her or had some faults that were non-obvious from your hiring process? It seems so obvious to me that you would that I don’t know why anyone would argue against it. You can take past references with a grain of salt, knowing that some people are petty about it when someone quits, while still seeing the HUGE advantage of doing reference checks over not doing them.

        2. The Editor*

          Anonymous–You seem very jaded in your responses. I would love to know why. What’s going on that gives you that perception?

            1. The Editor*

              Sure, but you still didn’t answer the question. I’m not trying to pick a fight or anything, but you seem to have a truly negative outlook on hiring, reference checking, and so forth, and I wonder where that comes from.

              For me, I wouldn’t call it naive. That implies that my eyes aren’t open to hiring processes. Rather, I would call it faith in people. I don’t think most companies are out to get me, I doubt that most hiring managers are looking to disqualify me (rather, I think they’re trying to see if I’m a good fit as am I), and I just think that most people are generally good people.

              Call that naive if you will, but it certainly seems an easier road than the alternative.

                1. Julie*

                  I agree with The Editor’s previous comment, and I lived and worked in NYC for the last 20 years, so that response doesn’t answer The Editor’s question. If you don’t want to answer it, of course you don’t have to, but you also don’t have to give a flippant answer.

            2. RG*

              Sure – if you are looking at the extremes of the spectrum. But it’s not an either/or state of being – there is room in the middle.

              1. The Editor*

                Sure, but attitude is choice. I choose to think the best of most situations. It’s just easier and says nothing about my awareness of what is going on around me (as implied by anon).

                1. Nichole*

                  I agree that choosing a positive attitude can make job hunting, and work in general, much less frustrating. My fuse is much longer when I assume the best and prepare for the worst-plenty of CYA and backup planning, but no inherent assumption that others are out to get me. There’s a difference between knowing some people will try to stomp your toes and assuming that all people want to run them over with a truck.

        3. Jamie*

          It’s certainly not to deliberately seek dirt, either.

          You go outside the list because it’s assumed that the list given are people with whom the candidate has pre-approved, as it were.

          You’re just fact finding and want to talk with people who are in the position to speak to what the candidate was like as an employee, co-worker, client…whatever…and not all of the relevant people will be on the list.

          Done properly these aren’t checked until near the end of this hiring process. Either you’re ready to pull the trigger and hire, or you’re down to your top 2-3 candidates. At this stage the hiring manager isn’t hoping it’s going to all collapse. It’s a lot of work to start from scratch.

          References aren’t a game of gotcha – and how else would you suggest a prospective employer get information about what the candidate is like to work with?

        4. fposte*

          Anon, this isn’t a war, where the hiring manager is trying to find out something bad about you and you’re trying to make sure she never finds out about that overdue library book. Everybody applying has flaws, and everybody applying has strengths. I want to maximize the information I have about the applicants to get as clear a picture as possible of how they’ll fit in with my organization. I don’t think it’d be any fairer to applicants if we all agreed never to ask for references and to make our decisions based on even less information.

          1. Rana*

            Exactly – it’s getting a feel for a person you’re planning to work with, from people who have worked with that person. There’s a fairly large space between what comes across on paper and what the lived experience is like – for example, there can be two people who have the same credentials, and very similar job records, but one is outspoken and likes to be in charge of projects, while the other is quieter and content to let others take the spotlight. Neither approach is bad, or wrong – indeed, a good team will probably want some of each person.

            But if you’re hiring to replace the outspoken member of your existing team, say, do you want to hire the quieter person, knowing that you’ve already got five on your team? Or do you go with the outspoken one, because that’s a role that’s not been filled?

            It’s not all antagonistic, or about finding hidden flaws – it’s also finding out about fit, and getting a fuller sense of the person than you can get from a resume, cover letter, and whatever random stuff shows up in a Google search.

        5. ExceptionToTheRule*

          I’ll go “outside the list” if the applicant and I have intersecting circles of colleagues because I’d rather hear about an applicant from someone that I personally know and trust. It’s one of the benefits of networking.

          1. Meg*

            I’ve gone outside the list for this reason – found out from my network within the company that a particular candidate (who held the same position I held previously with that company) got drunk on the job just days after his interview with us and was fired for it. We had already done a reference check too.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                You need to go back and really read what people are saying here. There is no malice. Checking references is part of hiring. If they’re good, fine. If bad, you weigh what you’re hearing with what you heard elsewhere, what you’ve seen of the candidate, and how well you think they’ll fit the job. It’s business. One bad reference isn’t likely to sink a strong candidate whose other references are good.

                Sorry if it seem so antagonistic to you. It’s truly not.

                1. Rana*

                  Anonymous, I’m sorry for whatever experiences have led you to view what is a normal process with such bitterness and cynicism.

    3. Steven M*

      He does an amazing job at his new company and if/when he eventually moves on from that he has a more recent and more positive reference that will overshadow this one.

      I am assuming here the OP’s resignation was to go to another job. It would certainly be more challenging if this was a layoff or quit with nothing lined up situation, and then some of the other suggestions in this thread are necessary.

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