update: my former employer is requiring me to return to finalize my resignation — after I already left

Here’s an update from Tuesday’s letter-writer whose employer was trying to make her come back in for a “wrap-up meeting” to “finalize her resignation” after her last day, and was also insisting she’d need to pick up her last check in person, contrary to her state’s law:

I thought I would update everyone on my situation as it’s been a bit of a whirlwind. First of all, thank you and all the lovely commenters for all their help and suggestions!

So I assumed it was a case of them just not knowing the laws and approached my manager with that in mind. I went with the gentle but firm explanation that I would be unable to come back in for a wrap-up meeting due to a packed schedule and asked that it be rescheduled to sometime before my final day.

I didn’t think there was anything offensive about it (or the way I worded it), but my manager seemed put off by my request. She made a comment about not being aware that my schedule would be so packed I couldn’t make time for a 30-minute exit interview. I offered to come in early or stay late if it was a matter of trying to find time that works for everyone, and she said she’d look into it. (I know I probably shouldn’t have made the offer, but to be honest I was a little thrown by her response! She has a bit of a reputation for being difficult, but we’d always gotten along pretty well.)

When I got home that day, I had a voicemail from her informing me that that had been my last day! Apparently when she looked into it with the president of the company, they both agreed that I had already provided them with the information they needed and wouldn’t it be nice for me to have a few days off before I had to start my new job?

I never got the clarification on what kind of papers they wanted me to sign or why I needed to sign them after my resignation. When I went by the office to pick up my personal items, my manager just handed my final check over the receptionist counter and waved me off with the rest of the office! I’m still a little shocked but have decided to add it to my list of workplace stories and move on. And to be entirely honest, I actually am excited to have a few days off!

I wrote back and asked this: “Wow! I’m reading this as them moving up your last day because they were pissed that you had the audacity to decline to return later — is that your sense too, or am I misinterpreting? Also, did you ever bring up the law on the last paycheck, or did they figure that out on their own?”

The letter-writer:

I definitely got that sense from the voicemail and when I saw her in person. I would have bought the “good for me” thing, but I was training a temp to take over and we had a ton more to cover so that doesn’t really make much sense to me. I didn’t actually get a chance to request my check be mailed to me. It looked like they figured that one out on their own!

{ 117 comments… read them below }

  1. Me2

    Thanks for the quick update. I’m glad you’re done with it and hope you enjoy your days off.

  2. AJ

    Almost makes me wonder if someone saw the question here and made the connection. Sending you away -while you were still training a temp- because you dared to question their exit procedures seems awfully shortsighted and petty.

      1. Florida

        It is amazing how often people do that when they are angry. It feels good initially because you “won”, but has horrible after effects.

      2. Doriana Gray

        Pretty much, Ang. But it worked out beautifully for the OP, so the joke’s on them.

        Congrats on your new job, OP!

        1. SophieChotek

          +1
          Mostly feel sorry for person getting trained, but that’s on the company, not OP.

    1. Florida

      I kind of doubt that. I would imagine that there are not many terrible bosses who read AAM. If they did, they wouldn’t be terrible bosses. (Generalization, but I think you get my drift.)
      If this office has a sane voice of reason who reads AAM, the person probably would’ve tried to speak up the craziness of all of it before OP wrote in. Once OP writes in and the reader recognizes it, it doubtful that they would go to the boss and say “Look at the advice column. It’s about us.” Then boss says, “This is a great point. We should do things differently.”

      1. BRR

        I wonder if bad bosses read aam and think “good for that manager to get rid of that terrible employee who is insubordinate.”

      2. ZenJen

        exactly, bad bosses are busy being awful.

        honestly, it’s a good update for the OP, who was assertive and got the last check AND a few days off! sounds like the old boss was angry that they didn’t have any power over the OP and they knew it.

      3. SophieChotek

        Plus as I recall (vaguely) AAM often says we’d be amazed at how similar questions are even when we think we’re alone.

      4. Vicki

        Aw, but they don’t see themselves.

        This is why it’s possible for employees to hang Dilbert cartoons on their cubes and their managers just laugh.

      1. Dee

        I got ‘fired’ after i resigned once (while i working the notice period). There are some really sad, confused people who are bosses.

        1. Vicki

          Is it better to be “fired” or to be invisible in those last two weeks? The latter is “fun”.

          You’re no longer invited to meetings; people look past you in the hallway when you walk by. I’ve had this happen and it’s very weird.

          1. Tax Nerd

            Much later..

            If you’re fired, you may be eligible for unemployment, depending on your state. Even if it’s only for a week and a half, or something.

            A friend gave his four weeks’ notice as his job, and planned to start new job in four weeks. His old job decided to let him go, instead, with no pay in lieu of notice or severance. Since he actually needed an income for that month, he applied for unemployment and got it. This was California, which tends to be more employee-friendly than a lot of other places. If this situation pops up, I recommend applying anyway. It can be hard to find a job that lasts such a short time, and when you’d planned to be working. That it raises the old job’s insurance rates is a bonus lesson to them to not be jerks to someone on their way out.

            On the other hand, if money isn’t the immediate concern, future job applications may ask “Have you ever been terminated from employment?” and explaining that isn’t always fun, and may lead to some difficulty getting a job.

    2. Cube Ninja

      It’s lose-lose-lose, because you lose any potential goodwill with the departing employee, damage morale within the company, and now have a temp that would otherwise have had the benefit of a few more days’ training from someone with institutional knowledge.

      I think calling this shortsighted is actually very generous. :)

      1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night

        They’re setting the temp up for failure by doing this. Shame on them.

        1. Doriana Gray

          Hopefully the temp will be on to bigger and better things soon anyway. But yeah, OP’s manager didn’t think this through.

          1. NutellaNutterson

            I sure hope the temp has options and doesn’t need to turn this gig into a permanent job. A big upside of temping is seeing a company’s true colors!

  3. Catalin

    Ah, Karma. Ultimately they’re shooting themselves in the foot while kicking you out the door. I’m sorry you’re missing a few days of closure/pay but they sound exactly like the kind of people you wouldn’t have wanted to be around during the remaining days. Enjoy your new position!

    1. Sydney

      In Canada if they walk you out during your notice period (two weeks usually or whatever) they have to pay you for the entire notice period not just what you worked. So vacation! Not sure if it would apply there or not as well.

      1. Natalie

        There’s no legal requirement, but you do qualify for unemployment for the period between when they walked you out and when your last day would have been.

      2. Canuck

        Actually, unless there is a contract that specifies payment, if you resign during your notice period employers do not have to pay you. However, if they let you go (which is what happened here), they need to give you at least the minimum severance which is based on years of service to the company.

    2. Greg

      Wait, if someone is shooting themselves in the foot while kicking you, isn’t that dangerous for you? Especially when you consider what part of your anatomy they’re likely kicking you in … :-)

  4. BioPharma

    Incredible– missing out on a few days of training because they got annoyed at you?! It’s like when I see people on Survivor voting based on emotion, instead of using their HEAD and keeping emotions out of it! :)

    1. AMG

      Yes, they sound childish. This isn’t going to help them in the short term or the long term but thankfully it’s not your problem!

    1. misplacedmiswesterner

      Exactly what I was thinking. And one of Alison’s pieces of advice (how you treat this employee will signal to other employees how they can expect to be treated) that I think about the most.

      And I love the “too packed for a 30 minute meeting” because it is really that simple. Try a 20 minute commute (I believe the OP said she had a longish commute, but I made up this number), plus 5 minutes to park/get into the building), 5 minutes of chit chat, 30 minute meeting, 5 to 10 minute chit chat with coworkers on your way out, another 20 minute commute, and you are at 50 minutes or an hour that you have to be away from your new job. You can barely do this in a lunch hour, if you get a full hour, and if you really only have a 20 minute commute which is not likely.

      1. MeridaAnn

        85-90 minutes away from the new job in your estimate, actually, and I agree that that’s conservative, and could be much longer based on commute times. So, yeah, not even remotely possible within what’s possible for a lunch break.

        Sorry that the OP missed out on her last few days just for standing up for herself, though. That really stinks. :/

      2. Wendy Darling

        Plus it’s not like you can do that whenever you want. I can probably squeeze a 30 minute phonecall into my day outside of working hours no problem, but if you want me to drive to where you are just to attend a 30 minute meeting during my workday because of poor planning on your part, you are DREAMING.

      1. Brandy in TN

        Ive been in the trainees position before with very short training. I was given several hours of training and left to do. Then the boss criticized the hell out of me for not knowing what the others knew, of course they didn’t train me any. Anyway since mine was a dept pullover (they do that here, so and so dept wants you to work there) I asked my old depts. boss to take me back. I was thrilled to come back.

    2. Smithy

      Echoing this.

      A few months ago someone in our office (who had been difficult for a while) gave his two weeks notice and was told that his last day was immediate. Whatever reasons or difficulties that resulted in that, it’s already obvious the impact it’s having on other people looking to take new jobs when they aren’t considered “favorites”.

      Someone I’m friendly with in another department is planning to move with her husband in June to a new city. I know that her team has a major planning retreat planned for early May, and I’m sure that the planning would be far more effective if the team would know about her departure prior to the retreat not to mention handover possibilities. However, she feels really concerned that a long notice period could easily result in a quick “this is your last day/week”, so she’s just factoring in for two weeks’ notice.

      1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

        We had an employee fired for major, major things (think fraud and embezzlement). The investigation went on very, very carefully in the background, so when he was fired it *seemed* as though it was “out of nowhere.” And, outside of the c-suite, the only people who knew what happened were those involved in the investigation.

        The guy was well liked, and well known, so people were pretty shocked. I kept having to reiterate to my staff, “Please don’t take this as an indication as how things are handled. This was an extreme circumstance.” But when you can’t say why, people worry.

        1. NK

          Alison addressed this recently, I can’t remember whether it was the subject of a column or embedded in the comments, but she had a good way to talk about firings to reassure people about the general process without divulging the details of an individual’s situation.

          1. Elizabeth the Ginger

            Part of it was mentioning to people that details of their employment – or its ending – would be kept confidential from coworkers, just as there are details that are being kept confidential in this case.

            Though this does sound like a departure from the typical scenario of performance problems, working with the employee (ultimately unsuccessfully) to try to rectify them, and giving multiple warnings – for something like fraud you might want to get your ducks in a row quietly so the about-to-be-fired employee doesn’t have time to do any serious damage in retaliation.

    1. Sydney

      Me too! The whole thing is just bizarre. But then again lots of work places are super bizarre.

    2. Jeanne

      It is odd. The papers were so important until she said she couldn’t come back. What were they? Is it just a way of controlling people?

    3. AnotherHRPro

      It could have been a document outlining company equipment that was turned in, an acknowledgement that all confidential company records were handled (disposed, retained, etc.) appropriately or even an acknowledgement of unused vacation days. None of this would be “required” but companies can have weird off-boarding processes. And all of this could have been done on the OP’s last day.

    4. snuck

      I’ve signed exit stuff… generally it’s confirming that I’ve handed everything in, completed my staff performance reviews – administrative stuff and not worth coming back for, handled before leaving.

      I suspect the company knew she wasn’t going to sit there quietly while the senior management abused her. So they cut her loose.

  5. Adam V

    Brilliant. “She didn’t have time for a 30-minute ‘wrap-up meeting’, but I’m sure we can get her to answer calls from the temp whose training was interrupted because we moved up her last day.”

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger

      Ooo, good point. OP, don’t be shy about turning down requests to do unpaid work (disguised as “just answer a few quick questions”) should they be brazen enough to do that. Anything more than “Do you know where the XYZ file is?” “It is in the red filing cabinet in a folder labeled ‘Teapots’.” should be met with polite refusal. “As I’m not an employee of Crazypants Inc. anymore I cannot spend time working on training Beth.” A bit hard on Beth, but at least she’s a temp – and it’s not your job to save Beth from unreasonable employers.

      1. SophieChotek

        +1
        I agree.
        Bad for new person…but maybe they should be looking for a new job too!

      2. Gaara

        They cut short her notice period out of spite when she very reasonably offered to do an exit interview during her remaining employment rather than after. I would seriously consider not even answering “where is the XYZ file?” questions, given their conduct here.

        1. Anon4once

          Seriously… If you can’t go to them for a reference any more, and they stopped paying you out of spite, I wouldn’t do them any favors.

          I absolutely wouldn’t try to make things better or easier for the temp either. Let her see how crazy the place is while she’s still a temp! Sooner the better

  6. AdminSue

    I love it!! Enjoy your time off, and I wouldn’t be answering any phone calls or emails!

    1. Doriana Gray

      This. You are officially done with these people. Move forward and don’t give them a second thought.

    2. ZenJen

      this, don’t answer any phone calls and do NOT respond to emails until a day or 2 later (if at all), ALSO to reinforce the fact that you will be BUSY with new job. :-)

      1. geekchick603

        This so much.
        My husband left a job at the end of 2015. He gave plenty of notice to bring the person taking his work up to speed, but they were ‘too busy’. Fast forward to 2016 and new job, he was getting phone calls and emails multiple times a day asking for things they would have covered during the transition meeting that never happened.
        He had to tell them he would charge them for every call or email before they stopped.

        1. okie

          THIS!

          Same thing happened to me in my last job. I gave the “required” month notice and tried to pass on information that was key to the position and no one wanted it. They transferred someone internally after I left so it would have been simple to train the new person. I got so many phone calls and emails a few weeks after I left… The early ones I tried to be as helpful as I could and then I started lengthening my response time and said well I really need access to the old files that you have and are *here* to tell you. The info should be *here*. I was this close to recommend them paying me by the hour but they finally stopped calling. I was practically a consultant!

  7. the_scientist

    This is the very definition of cutting off your nose to spite your face. And now I am SO SO SO curious about what those forms were. Since you know, they were SO important that you had to come back after your last day to sign them, but I guess they’re not that important afterall once you dare push back on an unreasonable request.

    1. Elizabeth West

      They probably weren’t anything major–this is about control and punishment (well how dare you leave us; we’re going to make it difficult for you so maybe you’ll change your mind/realize how awful you are). The funny part is, they made it harder on themselves.

      1. AnotherHRPro

        I actually think this is about bureaucracy. Companies can develop odd processes that no one ever thinks to challenge or change. I’m guessing this process has been in place for while at this employer and they didn’t even realize that they were violating CA state law.

  8. Casak

    Good riddance to them!
    I hope you’ll write a Glassdoor review, so others can be warned about their unprofessionalism. And best of luck in your new job. Not all employers are sketchy!

    1. AF

      I was thinking that the OP should document and find a good way to explain to potential future employers. They could try to give her a less than glowing employment verification in the future.

      And leaving you a VOICEMAIL to tell you it’s your last day? Ridiculous. Glad you are free!

    2. Laura

      I agree, a Glassdoor review is what’s needed now, so OP can try to protect any future/currently employees!

  9. BRR

    Wow, I’m not sure from the letter but if this the way they behaved the rest of the time I’m happy you got out. My first reaction though was “f them.”

      1. Artemesia

        Oh DO this. The only real consequence you can mete out is having them have to deliver unemployment on their record. It is amazing how many middle schoolers manager to rise in business.

        I hope you smiled and said ‘that’s great, I’m going to love having a little break.’

        And absolutely do not answer any question if they call for help. ‘Oh I’m terribly sorry but I no longer work for Crackpots are Us so I won’t be able to assist you.’

        What maroons.

        1. BRR

          Middle school managers is my new favorite term, it has a very nice flow.

          My only thing would be it might kill a reference but I’m not sure if the LW would get a good one anyways.

      2. Rabbit

        IIRC, the OP said they were in California, where there’s often a one-week “grace period” for unemployment where you don’t get paid, so it might not be worth OP’s time to file unemployment for a few days off. Might be worth it just so they get the letter and you’re “stickin’ it” to them, though. ;)

        Also IIRC, OP was at this company for 3 years–now what will they do for a reference since their company treated them so crappy? Just terrible that you can work diligently for 3 years, yet standing up for yourself on your last day will likely result in an unusable reference. Awful.

        1. BRR

          Good point, I should have said possibly collect instead.

          I’d probably do it if I felt the reference was gone anyways.

  10. Solidus Pilcrow

    After we commenters speculated all the reasons why the company is doing this — lazy, disorganized, clueless, shady — my new conclusion is that they wanted to get the last word in, coupled with one last power play. “We’ll get you to jump through one last hoop at our whim for having the gall to resign. NOW *we* dismiss *you*. “

    1. AnotherHRPro

      Believe it or not, most companies do not have a grand conspiracy to punish employees who leave. Yes, some managers do take it personally, but company practice and policy is not designed that way. People leave and join companies every day. Companies are not taking it personal.

      1. Brooke

        I agree that *companies* don’t have a “grand conspiracy” but plenty of individual managers have insecurities and show them in weird ways, including taking things like this personally.

      2. Serafina

        I agree with Brooke. Sounds like the OP’s manager and/or whoever made the call to cut OP off early WAS taking it personally. Some individuals are like that, and sometimes they wind up working in a group that develops an institutional attitude of entitlement (e.g. “our employees should be LOYAL and DEDICATED! Who cares if we treat them like dirt, it’s the American way!” or some variation thereupon) and can be very vengeful if an employee dares to challenge them, even politely over a perfectly legitimate and reasonable issue.

  11. Still here...

    This has me wondering:

    Since this is California: Is there any possibility that they have to pay for the time period all the way up to the original last day?

    1. Meg Murry

      I don’t know about that, but I would advise OP to take a good look at that check and make sure it is completely correct and they paid her for all the days she worked and for any PTO she had left.

      Although I also wonder if OP’s last day was supposed to be today and someone figured out that by letting her work on April 1st she would be eligible for benefits (insurance, etc) in April, but letting her go in March meant they stopped in March. I’ve worked places where the insurance worked that way.

    2. CEMgr

      Ah no, unfortunately. California has many protections for workers, but this is not one of them.

  12. Shannon

    One of the points of giving notice is to schedule things like “wrap up meetings” before you are no longer there. This was clearly a power play and good for you for not giving into it.

  13. Panda Bandit

    OP, you’re free of those terrible people! That’s the greatest gift of all. Congratulations on your new job.

  14. TootsNYC

    “She made a comment about not being aware that my schedule would be so packed I couldn’t make time for a 30-minute exit interview.”

    Well, of course she’s not aware–she’s not your boss anymore!

    Yeesh!

    And definitely, cutting off their nose to spite their face.

    1. Willis

      Yeah, I would have been tempted to say I didn’t know her schedule was so jam-packed that she couldn’t make time for a 30 minute exit interview before I left!

      And even if OP’s schedule wasn’t going to busy, it’s absolutely ridiculous to expect people to come to a meeting once they’re no longer employees. I’m surprised anyone’s complied with that request…

  15. F.

    Get that check to the bank immediately before they have a chance to put a stop-payment on it!

  16. animaniactoo

    #1 – “Well, it’s 30 minutes of your time, it’s considerably more of mine since I won’t be on premises so I’m happy to do it while I’m here, but won’t be available after.”

    Just to counter that cheap shot about how you were making a big fuss over a little thing…

    #2 – I have 5 bucks that says they wanted you out of their post-haste, they did NOT want to see anybody seeing that they could stand up for themselves and “win”. Joke is still on them. Glad you’re out of there!

  17. Cynical Lackey

    Would the letter writer be eligible for a few days of unemployment for the period of time she didn’t work after she was let go and the day the new job starts?

    1. TootsNYC

      Probably not, since she was paid for those days; they were given to her a paid time off, essentially.

      1. TootsNYC

        wait, maybe I’m wrong–I went back to look, and it’s not clear. If it’s not paid, then yes, she probably could, if she wanted to.

  18. Kanye The Giant

    Hahaha, what a dumb power play. Good riddance, and enjoy your unexpected vacation before starting your (hopefully much better) job!

  19. middlemist

    It sounds an awful like they wanted her to sign some sort of release of claims, and were using the final check as bait. In theory they could have asked her to sign the release before her last day, but the they wouldn’t have the leverage of her final paycheck.

    1. TootsNYC

      And they shouldn’t legally EVER have the leverage of the final paycheck; that’s pay for work delivered, not something they can withhold.

  20. CM

    Glad it worked out for you, OP! At first while reading your letter I felt sorry for you that you lost out on your last few days of getting paid — but then you said you’re happy to have the time off, so, yay! And it sounds like you handled it pretty graciously — while it’s tempting for all of us to imagine giving this employer the finger on the way out, in reality I’m sure you’re better off having taken the high road.

  21. Phoebe

    Yeah, I read this as they knew this policy was BS, and you were probably the first one to ever push back on it, so they over-reacted. I wouldn’t take it personally and would enjoy the days off to clear your head before the new job starts.

    1. Stranger than fiction

      I hope she lets all her coworkers know that this is the bs they try to pull if you leave.

  22. Ruffingit

    I think employers freak out when you push back on things they’ve been doing for a long time that are actually illegal. They start wondering if there are going to be penalties assessed on them or some kind of legal trouble and they try to turn it around and make it about you. They also tend to want to get rid of you as quickly as possible. This is what happened to me in my last job when I informed them of their illegal practices. Except that I had already resigned and my last day was two days after I had the conversation. They didn’t bother to end my tenure there that day because they were so poorly staffed, they literally couldn’t afford to tell me to leave right then.

  23. Justin

    WTF is wrong with people? Come back in for a “resignation finalization” meeting. WTF IS that? It’s not even a thing. Why, on the face of God’s Green Earth do we indulge each other these inane, absurd, pointless, useless meetings? One after another? Day in and day out? How many BILLIONS wasted so we can hear each other blabber on about nothing that important? You should have said “No, I am not coming in for such a meeting. It is unnecessary and an absurd waste of my time. Check whatever boxes on whatever form you need to in order to wrap things up and let’s move on.” and then hung up the phone with out waiting for a reply, answered zero of their emails or phone calls. Ridiculous.

  24. CBH

    OP This is waaay past when you posted your update, but I have been reading some of the past posts. If you get to read this, I am curious if the company ever called you with questions. It seems like they left the temp untrained and you were more than willing to update the staff with your knowledge. I would think the company would have been scrambling to get things done during the transition. Their loss, not yours. I hope your new job is going well.

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