update: my manager told us we were going to be laid off — but she was wrong

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer whose manager told their team they were going to be laid off in a few months and that they should start looking for other jobs — but then turned out to be wrong, after they all had taken lower-paying jobs? Here’s the update.

My boss told us in February (of 2017) we would be laid off in June, that there would be no severance and our last would likely be the same day we were told about our lay off. She repeatedly told us this for months leading up to all of us leaving. Given this, myself and my coworkers did what we could to find jobs elsewhere so we wouldn’t end up jobless and possibly running the risk of still being unemployed when unemployment ran out (taking a job with a pay cut, moving back home, etc.). The company policy as appearing in the handbook is that if someone resigns it is final and there is no going back. My boss spoke to HR but they held firm and some of my coworkers had already left to their new jobs. Our company doesn’t do exit interviews, we didn’t all quit on the same day and since our boss had told us it was a secret we just said we were leaving for other opportunities.

Layoffs never happened. As each of us left our jobs were posted and the salary range given was the same as we were paid with the same benefits. By the time I found out layoffs were not happening all the interviews had been completed for my job and the company said it was too late for me to reapply. While we were leaving and the new people were being interviewed other employees were brought in to cover our jobs and then sent back once the new people were hired and trained. All of us were replaced and the department was not cut or downsized in any way. The company has not laid anyone off and has even opened another office in another city a few hours from here. It was not somewhere I wanted to relocate as the cost of living is too high and I have no family here so I didn’t apply.

My boss presented the layoff as a fact. We never questioned her because she told us repeatedly and she had never done anything untrustworthy before this. She is still managing my old department even though everyone knows what happened. She has never apologized or shown remorse. I am still at the job I got when I thought I was being laid off. The pay is 75% less than what I made before, I had to move to a cheaper place and sell my car to pay off my lease to avoid a black mark on my record and I take a 45-minute train ride from the station across the street as opposed to my 10-minute drive before. According to LinkedIn, my former coworkers are still in the same jobs.

Many of the comments thought we overreacted or should not have listened to our boss. We did what we could with information that was given. She was in the wrong. As I mentioned in the comments I heard from several people above her (c-suite, executives, board of directors and great-grand boss) no layoffs were planned and she misunderstood the papers she found on the printer. This wasn’t an excuse for anyone to leave or not move in with their girlfriend as a few of the comments had suggested. The layoffs were never planned.

I try to look on the bright side. I still have a good place to live. Taking the train has given me time to read more than I have had in years. The people and my boss at my new job are decent. I walk more since I don’t have a car. I wish things didn’t happen as they did but I can’t change it so I try not to think about it.

I would like to thank you for your great advice and all of the comments that offered support and didn’t question my actions. I read AAM every day because of the great advice and people who comment.

{ 203 comments… read them below }

  1. Amber T*

    That’s super frustrating, OP, and I’m sorry that happened. I’m glad you have a positive outlook, and I hope your old salary, commute, and other benefits will come back to you and your former coworkers somehow, whether it’s another new job, a promotion, etc.

  2. Reba*

    OP, you have an amazing attitude. Wishing you the best at your current job and hope for better things at the next one after that!

    1. Radio Girl*

      Yes, I think the same thing! Your positive approach will help you in the long run.

      I’m so sorry, OP. You did the best thing under the circumstances.

    2. The Original K.*

      I was thinking the same thing! I am really impressed by your positivity, OP. Best of luck to you!

    3. Anne (with an “e”)*

      I was thinking the exact same thing. LW, you have an awesome attitude. I truly admire that. I wish you the very best in the future.

  3. Gingerblue*

    Your former boss is terrible. Your former company is terrible. You sound awesome (seriously, trying to find a silver lining in this gives me so damn much respect for you).

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      I legit almost wonder if this boss wanted to make new hires in her department and this was how she went about getting them all to quit (I have known bosses who were such passive-aggressive weenies that they would go about it this way). It just seems so weird otherwise.

      1. JulieCanCan*

        That’s so awful I can’t even imagine someone being this horrible! And I’ve seen some shitty stuff. I mean, is that a possibility? That woman needs to be put in her place because she messed up a lot of lives.

        Ugh! This one really got under my skin – I can’t believe how the whole thing rolled out. This manager…..just……yuck.

  4. TooTiredToThink*

    I agree with the others; I am so sorry this happened to you.

    I also don’t quite understand how the manager is still there though. If I were a higher level manager and my direct report had done this; even though they were trying to help; I couldn’t trust them anymore.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Yes–even if no one said “I’m leaving because Agnes told me we’re all going to be laid off with no notice” surely someone should have noticed that Agnes’s entire department had quit?

      1. motherofdragons*

        This is what I was thinking!! How was this not a massive red flag to HR and/or Agnes’ boss??

    2. Creag an Tuire*

      I’m still convinced that “Whoopsy, I misread the secret files!” was a lie and the boss and/or management were pushing the team out on purpose, though I can’t imagine why if it wasn’t financial.

      Either that or the company is run by A Flock Of Loons.

          1. Creag an Tuire*

            Fair point — it’s not as if faking mass layoffs because a PIP is too much work or whatever falls under “normal, competent management”. :P

      1. ISuckAtUserNames*

        I wonder if the team pre-dated the manager or if the manager hired them? If it’s the former, I would assume the manager did it so she could hire her own team.

        I’ve seen managers clean house like this before, but not in such a sneaky fashion.

        1. Anon for this*

          I’ve seen a new manager do something like this because she had been promoted and didn’t feel like her former peers would treat her as a boss, and she really liked to be in charge. So she acted “as a friend” and told people things that made them believe their jobs were in jeopardy or that the location of those jobs were going to change on top of an already long commute. Oh, but don’t mention this, she would say. I’m not supposed to tell you, but I had to because we’ve been friends for a long time.

          What a backstabber.

          1. Anon Accountant*

            Experienced something like this firsthand. The employee wanted several of us to leave because we complained about his rude behavior and poor treatment of clients.

            This is awful situation for OP and former coworkers though. No advice but just good wishes.

          2. Black Bellamy*

            Yeah I had this happen too. What was awesome was that the guy wound up getting fired for revealing information not meant for general consumption. He was spreading lies, but they didn’t care that he was lying. They only cared that he was telling people something they shouldn’t have known.

      2. MK*

        Based on the fact that apparently the OP can make ends meet, even by living in very reduced circumstances, on a quarter on her original salary and that none of the people who quit seem able to find a comparable position, my quess would have been that the OP and her co-workers were very overpaid. But if the jobs were advertised for the same salaries, I don’t see the point of getting rid of them.

        1. Jennifer85*

          It does sound like a massive pay cut, though possibly the work is very specialised (and obviously there are plenty of jobs that pay 4x minimum wage+). It’s maybe also possible that the old job was 75% more salary & some maths has got confused (which would be taking a cut to ~57% of your original salary, which is less extreme than 25%…)

          1. A Canuck Here*

            The pay cut was 25% (the first letter says the new job only pays 75% of what the current one does). I think she just worded the update badly and didn’t mean to say they took a 75% pay cut.

        2. Jennifer85*

          Original letter says the new job paid 75% of what they used to earn so I think the ‘75% less’ wording here is effectively a typo. Taking a 25% pay cut probably doesn’t guarantee you were previously overpaid.

        3. water, boiling*

          What???? I can get a -very different- job at 25% of what I make now. This in no way implies I’m overpaid now. This is so completely illogical.

        4. Gymmie*

          Maybe? The fact that she no longer can even afford a car makes me question this. Like maybe they were “overpaid” but still underpaid. No idea what industry this is. It is interesting they all are making less, but maybe they were at a company that was pretty much the only one for that industry in the area, etc. Also, the new salary range was the same. Who knows.

    3. Antilles*

      Yeah, that’s the part that mystifies me. Since the department ended up sticking around, this person’s loose lips cost the department a significant financial and efficiency hit by needing to replace an entire department of employees at once, pull employees from other departments to fill in, and then probably a lot lower efficiency for several months while the new people got up to speed. Oh, and by the way, she shared confidential information she wasn’t a party to.

    4. Micromanagered*

      I also don’t quite understand how the manager is still there though. If I were a higher level manager and my direct report had done this; even though they were trying to help; I couldn’t trust them anymore.

      Right? Because she saw something not meant for her eyes (I think the original information came from a printout left at the printer) and shared it with her team. That’s a serious lack of judgment, even if HR was unwilling to rescind the resignations that happened because of it. Also, how does anyone still working under this manager have any confidence in her?

      1. selena81*

        I am also wondering why manager did not leave? (i am assuming the ‘secret files’ mentioned terminating her with the rest of the department)
        was she planning to go down with the ship, did her new job not pan out yet, or is something fishy going on?

    5. A person*

      It shows horrible judgment on the part of the manager and was probably very costly to the company to have to replace those people. I don’t see why she got to keep her job after running off her old staff like that.

      I tend to think laying off the staff was actually being floated as an option at the time the manager saw the papers. But it was really wrong of her to repeatedly frighten her employees until they felt their only real option was upending their lives based on documents she saw one time out of context.

    6. Neptune*

      I know!! I mean – we’ve had stories on here about people being fired for anything under the sun. And this manager creates a situation where *four people quit the company* for *no reason* and she’s still there? What??? That’s insane. I think I’m actually more taken aback by this than by the leap-year-birthday-grinch manager in the last post.

    1. AFPM*

      Yes, and in retrospect, basing this extremely important announcement on something you saw on the printer and not checking with anyone higher up is also super sketchy. This is not the OP’s or coworkers’ fault at all, because she had never lied to them, so of course they would believe her. OP, very best of luck to you!!

    2. Kristine*

      Yes, me too! I’m really trying not to think the manager had some secret agenda, but this is really over the top for a “mistake.”

    3. Frank Doyle*

      I dunno, maybe she did look and only found ones that were a huge pay cut, like her reports, but unlike them she decided to hold off until she found something better.

  5. ZSD*

    OP, I’m so sorry for this, particularly the 75% pay cut! That’s unbelievable. We’re all sending you our best wishes.

    1. A Canuck Here*

      It must a typo or error. The original letter says the new job only pays 75% of what the false layoff job paid.

  6. Dwight*

    An absolute disgrace. And I’ve taken a huge paycut after a layoff, but i couldn’t imagine making only a quarter of what you were previously making.

    1. A Canuck Here*

      I think that’s a typo or error. In the original letter they said the new job only pays 75% of what the glass layoff job paid.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I hope so. I get putting your resume out there, I get considering a 10% pay cut in the hand over uncertainty in the bush. But a 75% pay cut when you haven’t been laid off yet? Layoffs usually come with unemployment–for a drastic pay cut it seems one would wait–especially if looking at a rate of pay lower than you’d get from unemployment.

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          Go read the original letter. Alison links to it in the first line.

          “I found a new job but it only pays 75% of what this job paid”

  7. A Canuck Here*

    I’m surprised the OP sent an update, given how badly they were treated by some of the comments. Alison had to step in and that did not even stop it.

    1. your favorite person*

      WOW. I can’t believe people would blame the OP. If my manager came to me and said this to me for months, with no prior reason to question them, I would absolutely do the same thing.

      I’m glad OP can see a silver lining in this pretty crappy situation. All the best, OP.

      1. Ms. Mistopheles*

        Would you really have done the same thing? I can’t imagine ever quitting a great job for an inferior one because one person said layoffs were coming, with no concrete facts to back up her statement. I might have been alarmed when I first heard it from her, but as the time went by and nothing official ever came from management (or even anything unofficial through the office grapevine) I’d assume a mistake had been made.

        1. A Canuck Here*

          Even if your boss told you daily/repeatedly for 4 months that you would be laid off and walked out with no severence?

        2. MLB*

          I’ve been laid off twice, once I had a 3 month heads up, and the second time I was escorted out of the building. I am super paranoid about it happening again, because while I would love to find a place that I loved and worked at until I retire, nothing is guaranteed these days. If this were me, I probably would have started looking (and panicking), but I also would have questioned what I was being told. I honestly don’t know if I would have completely changed my life if I were in their shoes.

          1. Former Producer*

            I’ve also been laid off twice, most recently a month ago and in that case, I had a two months heads-up. I definitely started looking right away, and fortunately I was able to work through my last day without any shady stuff that sometimes happens with layoffs, and I just started a new job this week. I do feel for the OP because I am totally freaked out about being laid off again, but if the news was coming from just my boss and none of the higher-ups or other teams knew about it, I wouldn’t be as ready to jump into a new role that pays less.

        3. Gymmie*

          Fear of being out of luck with few options. Also, if they knew others were getting laid off, that is a shrinkage in what is available in the marketplace too.

        4. Working Mom Having It All*

          I’d like to think I would get a resume and cover letter together, start low-key looking around, but not formalize anything until I had heard more. On the other hand, I have seen some very shady stuff go down with layoffs before, so honestly I can understand why OP did what she did. Especially since it seems her entire team did the same. It would be hard to stay optimistic if literally all of your coworkers were jumping ship and you were the lone voice saying maybe it wouldn’t happen.

    2. BRR*

      I went back and read the comments just now and wow. Thank you OP for still sending an update. I’m sorry you had to go through all of this and for whatever reason nobody at that company seems to think this is a big deal.

      1. Bostonian*

        Yeah, I’m super appreciative that OP gave an update AND was so active in the comments in the original letter to provide more information.

    3. PB*

      I don’t think I read the comments for the original letter. It really sucks that commenters were so nasty to OP, who clearly ended up in a bad and unfair situation. OP, thanks for the update. I’m really sorry this happened to you. I hope things look up.

    4. Liz T*

      Yeah, what an odd post to make Alison close comments on. So bizarre that people reacted that way! Especially when OP was being so informative and involved in the comments.

    5. Phoenix Programmer*

      It was a vocal minority and I think people have to keep in mind that not everyone reads all the nested comments. That’s why Alison’s newer policy of putting a “x was covered move on” at the top works so much better. It’s not that most commenters flat ignored Alsion or even that most commenters thought OP had poor judgement just that a lot of people miss the updates and post the same thing.

      There have been times I’ve opened and read a thread with 0 comments to be shocked to find out I am suddenly commentaries number 249. Refreshing matters too. Overall it’s not a great commenting platform tech wise and now that there are many more commenters that is making the commentariate look more negative then it is.

      For the record I just went back and re-read the first 200 comments and they were overwhelmingly supportive of the OP amd calling out the hand full of people blaming the OP.

      1. Lissa*

        Yes there is a real tendency to focus on the negative – people get hundreds of supportive comments and a few questionable ones but still feel attacked. Or someone has an opinion which really is shared by at least 50% of other people but start with “I must be the only one who…” I think this is a really fascinating psychological tendency. I’ve seen people get really het up about what was *one* comment thread also.

      2. Daisy*

        Yes, I’ve scrolled about half way down and I’ve seen a grand total of one guy calling OP’s move an ‘overreaction’, and then immediately retracting and apologising (twice). Unless it’s your first day on the Internet, that’s a very favourable comment thread to OP.

        1. A Canuck Here*

          Read all the comments. Alison had to get involved and had to close the comments because of the comments being harsh on the OP.

          1. Phoenix Programmer*

            Yes – about 300 comments down. 1 commenter in particular was questioning OP almost like a cross-exam.

            That does not a nasty commentariate make. Said person was called out.

  8. irene adler*

    Hell of an update for a hell of a situation.
    This has me wondering:
    The boss was not going to be part of the layoffs? Hmm. Why not? Her reports were all to be terminated.
    In which case, what was the plan for her?
    Didn’t she feel the need to find other employment knowing her job was at least at risk or would change dramatically given her reports were all going to be terminated?

    I dunno. Seems fishy to me that there wasn’t some sort of ulterior motive on the boss’ part.
    Wonder if this would meet the standard for fraud?

    1. animaniactoo*

      Departments have been merged or discontinued before – the manager is often moved elsewhere if they were otherwise a good manager and the division was being cut loose more because the roles could be absorbed elsewhere or there just wasn’t a market for what they were doing despite initial projections and so on. It happens. Potentially another department that is a bit oversized is split while duties are redefined to absorb the work from the laid off employees, and the manager ends up with a team of 5 instead of a team of 8 and the other manager goes from a team of 12 to a team of 7 or some such.

    2. SusanIvanova*

      When my whole team was laid off, our manager was high enough in the hierarchy that different layoff rules applied (possibly a director? I don’t remember). So for several months he, as he put it, “counted ceiling tiles” because he had no team and nothing else to do.

  9. CoveredInBees*

    Your former boss’ lack of apology (at the very least) is staggering. One would hope that your former company would have made an effort to rehire people as possible but it doesn’t sound like that’s happening.

    I’m glad you’ve been able to make the best of a bad situation and hope that great things are on the horizon for you.

  10. Falling Diphthong*

    I’m genuinely confused by the actions of most of the players.

    Top brass: If Agnes’s entire department quits, then even if no one says “Because Agnes tipped us off about the secret layoffs” someone should certainly notice that something big is going on in Agnes’s department, and want to get to the bottom of it. Having done so–it now seems C-suite knows what she did?–they’re just chill with it? Agnes wasn’t fired? All that hiring and training and onboarding is disruptive and expensive.

    The boss: As memyself notes, odd that she didn’t go take a job at a huge pay cut. And odd that top management kept her on.

    The staff: I get that if you’re close to the edge budgetwise you can’t play games waiting for the ideal job when the one you have is about to end, but everyone bailing for a sharp pay cut is weird. Is this company’s pay so out of scale to everything around it? Why weren’t there a mix of steps down, steps up, and lateral moves? Area economically depressed?

    This honestly makes more sense if the boss was told to find a way to get a dysfunctional department to quit without the company having to actually lay anyone off. And even then, I’d expect the worst employees to just dig in and ride out the clock, since they wouldn’t have many other options.

    I don’t know what happened here behind the scenes, but it’s distinctly weird.

    1. Alianora*

      Yeah, the pay cut thing is making me think that either their company must pay way above market rate or the employees all took whatever job they could get out of desperation.

      This HR policy is so strange too. I would think once the employee said, “I was told that there were definite layoffs, which is the only reason I was job searching,” there would be a little bit of leeway considering how expensive and time consuming new hires are.

      1. Creag an Tuire*

        I’m mostly boggled by how there’s a strict “No takesy-backsies” policy on resignations but not, evidently, a policy against revealing confidential information to your reports (“misunderstood” or otherwise), when the latter is a firing offense, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect Unemployment at any functional organization.

        (To be clear, this shouldn’t turn into attacking the OP — frankly even if she was under-performing the management’s actions are craven, and the whole damn thing is just so sketchy that I wonder if there was some EEOC-breaking or something going on.)

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I understand a strict no take-backs rule–see letters about that person who keeps quitting, then coming in on Monday to un-quit, and how annoying that is to everyone less drama-prone around them. But even if the company decided to hold that line on the people who’d given notice, just casually blowing off the manager a) revealing confidential information b) causing a lot of unneeded disruption and expense by doing so? That is bizarre. Maybe the company is bizarre in both ways at the same time–super rigid in one spot, super “like whatevs” in another–but it’s weird.

          1. Partly Cloudy*

            The employee who keeps quitting and un-quitting needs to be disciplined or fired. Making policies to try to deal with one person’s behavior is generally a bad idea.

          1. Creag an Tuire*

            As Dipthong said, it’s not that the policy alone is weird, it’s that the same company literally let a manger get away with revealing confidential information and blowing up her department in the process. At the very least, it smacks of a dysfunctional culture where the peons get strict oversight while the managers can get away with open incompetence.

        2. SusanIvanova*

          “I’m mostly boggled by how there’s a strict “No takesy-backsies” policy on resignations ”

          IK, R? If that was true where I work, not only would I not be here, but a lot of other people with rare skills and knowledge sets who took breaks for whatever reason would be off doing those things for the competition. And we’d really rather have them here.

    2. A Canuck Here*

      Did you read either letter or the comments from the OP in the original post? Why is anything the OP and her colleagues did even being questioned? OP was clear over and over why they all took other jobs. Are we really going to start on her again?

      1. Micromanagered*

        I think you’re referring to my comment on the original letter, and since you’ve mentioned it in several separate comments… Let me say that since this letter was published, I actually did change jobs based on rumors / writing on the wall that my previous position would not be around much longer. It was not the same exact situation–more “this job will probably be eliminated in 2-3 years” vs. “layoffs are coming.” But the fact remains that I did choose to change jobs based on less-than-concrete-fact.

        I’d like some spicy brown mustard to go on my words, please. Thanks!

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        As a third party without a deep emotional investment in this, what stands out to me is that all the employees in the division left… except the person telling them doom is coming, it’s certain, you should bail now and take any job you can get.

        That and upper management not blinking an eye at the huge abrupt turnover, nor firing the falsely leaking manager when the reason for that turnover came to light.

        Companies can be incompetent, and they can even be incompetent in self-contradicting ways. But I feel kind of like I’m watching a Leverage episode where this week’s client earnestly explains how their boss is a good person and all the things going wrong must just all be good-intentioned misunderstandings.

        1. SusanIvanova*

          Best Manager Ever started a team meeting once with “I’m not supposed to tell you this, but they want you to stop grooming llamas and start painting llama cages. I’m working on my resume and I’ll help you with yours.”

  11. Alianora*

    This is awful, OP. I’m glad that you’re making the best of your situation.

    I wonder what the new people coming into this team will think. I would definitely be put off if it turned out that everyone was coming in fresh and the previous team had all quit. Even if the manager spun it as “they all thought that layoffs were happening,” I would still be wary that something else happened, since it was only this team that quit.

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      Well sure, and inside my head I’d be thinking “…and just why did they think that? Does this company have frequent layoffs? That’s a bad sign…”

      1. Alianora*

        Yeah. I legit cannot think of an explanation that would put me at ease, although it wouldn’t be an immediate dealbreaker.

        If I saw any other red flags I’d probably be looking for a new job. But since everyone had to take such drastic pay cuts, maybe this company is one of few in the area that pays well, so I suppose that could make it easier to retain the new hires.

  12. animaniactoo*

    OP – Your manager erred big time, but honestly it sounds like she was trying to do right by you guys with the information she had. In her shoes, I probably would have quietly spoken to my boss and said “I saw this on the printer. Are there changes coming?” so I absolutely ding her for that. However, the people I most hold this against are the execs at your former company who didn’t look at this situation and go “uh… we can walk this back” for anyone who actually wanted to stay – despite coverage having been arranged and the hiring process having started. That is just an awful way to treat employees who were given wildly correct information. I’m not sure what the company thinks they are preserving by making a “clean break” and not walking that back… but if I was working for that company and heard that? I would always be very very aware that the company fell more on the “cogs in a wheel” than “living breathing humans with needs” viewpoint of employees.

    Another thing to look at is: At some point, that WAS an actual plan under consideration. The trigger might have fallen the other way and you would have been laid off exactly as she said, without ever knowing that it wasn’t as guaranteed as she thought it was. If the situation had gone that way, you all would be breathing a deep sigh of relief that you had time to get out. No, it didn’t – and that sucks. But really, it’s not so much your manager as your former company that screwed you guys over in the end. I hope that things get better for you again.

    1. Observer*

      No, it doesn’t. The whole “don’t tell anyone this” itself screams shady as all get out. Lack of apology is another HUGE indicator. If she meant well, why doesn’t she acknowledge that her “mistake” lead to some harm?

      In retrospect and with some distance from the situation, it’s patently obvious that the boss was not operating in good faith. I have no idea what was and is going on with her. But the benefit of her staff is not high on her priority list.

      1. BethRA*

        Or, “don’t tell anyone” could be perfectly rational if you know you’re sharing information you’re not even supposed to have, and you know that you’re seriously violating professional norms by sharing it (and she was – I remain astounded that she wasn’t fired or demoted for telling her staff about the alleged layoff plans and encouraging them to look for new jobs).

        I think she can’t apologize because doing so would mean acknowledging that whatever her intentions, she caused serious harm to her staff. A less exciting explanation, perhaps, but imo more likely.

    2. Colette*

      There may not have ever been a real plan – if the boss saw a document on the printer, it’s very unlikely she had the whole story. It’s pretty unlikely there was a document saying “OP and her colleagues will be laid off in 7 months” – but there could have been a reorg document that included a plan to move the group to new roles, or a new part of the organization but the boss didn’t see the whole thing.

      It could also have been about a different group altogether. I am not inclined to trust the boss’s accuracy or reading comprehension.

      1. Creag an Tuire*

        I almost wonder if Persephone* heard that she was a layoff target and decided to nuke her competition, though that wouldn’t explain why the company didn’t fire her as soon as they found out.

        *Can we agree that Persephone is the feminine form of Percival? Because the boss is a total Percival.

    3. Turtlewings*

      I was thinking much the same thing until I saw that the boss had not apologized or expressed any remorse at all. Wouldn’t any sane good-faith boss be appalled and mortified that she’d caused all this and been wrong? Maybe she’s just too embarrassed to speak about it at all, but that seems like an overly generous assumption.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Former toxic boss would have forgotten she told everyone layoffs were coming and then she would have been totally shocked that people quit. “Why are they quitting?.. whaaat? No, I never said that.”

        With her having a poker face was super important. The more upset someone became the worse and worse things she would tell that person. So you had to stand there with not even a flicker of a wince on your face.

        It kind of jumps at me that OP says this boss was usually nice. I guess she is, until she’s not. At best she is naive as a manager, if a confident manager makes a mistake they own it. That means they go back to the people they spoke with and let them know the information was in error. It was so easy to fix this and she chose not to fix it.

        Where this puts me, OP, is that it is probably good that you left. That was a whopping mistake she made and she did not protect her people. I am not sure I could ever trust her again. If she had come back and told me later she made a mistake that would actually help me to BUILD trust. Actions speak louder.

      1. MK*

        Why? To atone for the mistake of the manager? It’s not even as if the misinformation came from them. And making an exception to a policy could be very complicated, depending on the size of the company.

        I think they should demote (at the very least) the manager, though.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      She didn’t actually have any information! She saw a paper on a printer and ran with a vague suggestion.

    5. Neptune*

      Even if the plan was under consideration, it is still absolutely unbelievable to me that someone could possibly spread this kind of information as fact without verifying it first. “Going off the information she had” simply is not good enough when that “information” is just catching sight of some paperwork sitting in the printer – given the major changes OP and her colleagues were making to their lives, she ought to have investigated further. Like, from the OP’s letter it doesn’t sound like she was saying “hey, I saw this paperwork, I think this is the situation, just giving you a heads-up in case you want to start making plans” – she was literally telling people that they would be laid off and to start job searching. Even if she thought she was doing something kind for them it was a wildly thoughtless and careless thing to do without being 100% clear on the facts beyond “I saw a piece of paper in the printer”.

  13. Hiring Mgr*

    Sorry this happened..sounds like you may never know the real story, though it also sounds like a layoff was being considered. Personally, if my only option was to take a 75% pay cut, I probably would have waited it out…

    1. A Canuck Here*

      In her original letter OP says the pay at her new job was 75% of her old job. I think it must be a typo or awkwardly worded what she said her and that she means the new job pays 25% than her old one.

    2. Elo*

      OP has been extremely, incredibly, very clear that there was never a layoff planned, considered, discussed, suggested. There was no layoff coming.

  14. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    Wow, that’s awful. I’m really sorry to hear that. It’s good you’re staying positive, for your own mental and physical health, if nothing else. Your former boss sounds like a vile person – making a mistake is one thing (although I doubt it was a mistake) but to not even apologise is another. She says she spoke to HR but to be honest, I doubt it.

    This won’t be the only problem with this company, of that you can be sure. Something else is going to come to light and you’ll be glad to got out of there in time. I think you and your colleagues did the best you could, and I probably would have done the same in your situation. You’ve got a good head on your shoulders and the right kind of attitude, things are going to continue to improve for you. Hope you have a great time over the holidays!

  15. So long and thanks for all the fish*

    This is just awful. Apologies for my limited internet legal understanding, but I’d appreciate it if someone who actually knows could weigh in- if, as some people are speculating, this was a play by the manager to get her reports to leave, would this be something the employees could sue the manager over? Something along the lines of promissory estoppel?

    1. Creag an Tuire*

      IANAL, but I strongly doubt it, given that that this was information that neither the employees or the manager were supposed to have in the first place: you can’t sue for fraud if someone sells you stolen merchandise that turns out to be a dud. (…I don’t think.)

      The only legal leg I could see is if OP’s department was targeted for membership in a protected class, but we can’t really dig into that without OP doxxing herself.

      1. Jennifer85*

        I’m sure you’re right there’s no legal challenge but from the employers perspective it’s generally reasonable to assume something your manager tells you is the opinion of the company. It’s literally part of their job to reflect the views of ownership/upper management down to their reports… so I’m amazed the manager in question still has a job tbh.

    2. MK*

      Where I live this would be a tort, but frankly I cannot imagine any scenario that they might be able to prove it by legal means.

    1. Creag an Tuire*

      OP addressed that in the post — everyone was replaced (at equivalent salaries as far as she knows) — so it’s not that.

      1. tango*

        Well it’s quite possible that since everyone quit, they didn’t feel the need to lay off the original group because their motivation for stating lay offs were coming was to get the original group to quit and replace them with other, new workers. Then if a worker hadn’t quit by a certain drop dead date, they’d lay them off. They doubly made sure that the workers would quit as soon as possible rather than ride it out by saying the lay offs would be immediate when they happened with no notice and no severance.
        I just feel the manager wanted the team gone for whatever reason and so used the lay offs excuse as a reason rather than fire the people and/or risk them filing for unemployment. And possibly upper management felt the same way.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      In the original letter, OP says that it was confirmed the layoffs were a worst case scenario thing and not something they ever planned on implementing.

    3. Elspeth*

      Then why did they hire new people for those positions? I think the manager was up to something since she told OP and other team members for months that there would be layoffs.

      1. only acting normal*

        At the very least the manager should have realised there were no layoffs when they started hiring to replace the first person to quit. (Probably different in the US, but in the UK for redundancies you have to eliminate jobs *not* individuals. Firing an individual is a different process legally.)
        So either they are incompetent or something oddly shady was going on.

  16. Observer*

    Honestly? I don’t think the boss misunderstood anything. I think she lied. And your former employer is asking for trouble – when you keep on someone this horrible it does tend to lead to problems in the long term.

    I hope you start job searching and have lots of success in finding a new, and better, job.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      What (realistic) motivation could she have for lying? When you hear hoofbeats, don’t think of zebras.

      I’ve seen some commenters suggest that the manager wanted to hire an all-newteam. This… doesn’t seem like a great way to achieve that; presumably her best people would more easily find new roles and she’d be stuck with the underperformers, and the lie would come out in the end anyway. Also, in most workplaces, her own management would wonder about the sudden exodus from her team.

      1. MK*

        But she didn’t get stuck with the duds, everyone left. Not does she seem to have faced any consequences from her employer, do either the lie didn’t come out or the company didn’t care.

      2. Zillah*

        Yeah, I feel like what’s probably most likely is that the manager misunderstood what she saw, gave her staff a well intentioned heads up, was less aggressive about taking a new job at a pay cut because she has more of a safety net, and then wouldn’t own up to her mistake and apologize because people often get defensive when they screw up and/or she’s worried that admitting culpability could cost her her job. That doesn’t excuse her behavior – I just think it’s more likely than conspiracy theories.

        1. Comment on new perspective*

          If this is accurate it could explain why she is still employed there. Perhaps the company really does not have the full story about her behavior. And they didn’t trust the word of employees who quit. Very sad situation. I feel for OP.

      3. Où est la bibliothèque?*

        When my life isn’t going super well, my deepest is desire is to Move Away, Change Everything, It Will All Get Better if I Go Somewhere New.

        I can sort of understand somebody applying that faulty, faulty reasoning to their work life. Things are bad, but if I get a totally new team then everything will be okay again.

      4. Observer*

        The problem is that an honest mistake is no more realistic than a lie here. The whole situation here does not sound like the behavior of someone who made a genuine good faith mistake and was trying to help their staff.

      5. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

        The thing is that there might not be a realistic or logical motivation. People do bizarre things all the time – there’s a manager in the previous post who refuses to celebrate an employee’s birthday because it falls on a leap year, for example. I don’t know what the manager’s motivation was for lying, but her reaction and that of the company makes it clear that something isn’t right with that place.

  17. LKW*

    I still can’t understand how the manager avoided being walked out the door for sharing not only what should have been considered confidential information but incorrect confidential information.

    That’s a huge breach and I’d question this person’s decision making / judgement. Big time.

    I’m not going to get into the best effort or loyalty to employees thing. If she really wanted best, she’d ask and get information before making assumptions. When it turned out her assumptions were wrong, she’d take the hit to her status and explain what she did. She’d apologize. She did none of this.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Yeah, the fact that her leaking confidential information that she wasn’t even supposed to have did not get her fired is highly suspect.

    2. Adalind*

      I agree! It makes no sense to me. I went through a company layoff where my whole dept was let go. We were told in advance, but it was widely known and we trained the team in another state who was taking over. So I don’t see how a manger could have told them and not made sure it was fact OR been reprimanded for what amounts to a huge breach.

  18. It’s all good*

    Wow, your attitude is great and I know it will help great things open for you. Hopefully sooner than later. And karma.

  19. Competent Commenter*

    I couldn’t live with myself if I was that manager and I’d caused everyone these kinds of consequences. I just don’t understand people sometimes. :(

    1. Mommy MD*

      She may have done it on purpose. She certainly didn’t try and fix it. Either way she should have been fired.

      1. BethRA*

        She did try and fix it, though – according to the OP, the manager went to HR and tried to explain what happened in the hopes people could get their jobs back.

        1. Anon for this*

          The manager may have told the OP she spoke with HR and explained things, but how does the OP know if that really happened since the OP wasn’t there to hear the conversation?

          1. Thomas E*

            The OP talked to senior management herself, so regardless of what the manager said they knew what had happened and decided not to make an exception in this case.

  20. It's mce*

    I side with OP but there are people who jump on sharing news that’s wrong. At OJ, the then secretary picked up a faxed in announcement about a potential sale of our parent company but instead shouted out “we’ve been sold.” Anxiety ensued.

  21. Kitty*

    If I were them I’d write up a letter and have the whole team sign it and send it to upper management and HR. This is my fantasy and I’m sticking with it.

  22. Mommy MD*

    Boss should have been fired. Never pledge secrecy to anything that’s not required by law or a part of business handlings. Seek confirmation.

  23. JS*

    I cannot believe this woman still has a job. She upended people’s lives! Some are likely in debt, have their credit affected, and more. I would sue this woman if it was possible. Horrific. I don’t even know this woman and wish something truly bad for her. If she thought there were going to be layoffs she should have spoke to management. I am fuming for LW.

  24. Artemesia*

    With an attitude like yours I am optimistic that you will find something better; I am astounded that you are not more bitter than you are and your looking at the bright side and not looking back are refreshing. You and your co-workers got royally hosed here; really awful that the company didn’t show greater empathy and also that they didn’t deal with the manager who wrecked so many lives. BUT you are looking forward; you will find something better by and by and one day this will be an anecdote shared at dinner parties when the subject of worst bosses ever comes up. Hope good things happen soon.

  25. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

    I kind of feel like this boss should be nominated for Worst Boss of 2018. Sure, she wasn’t as overtly awful as past contenders, but holy hell, look at what happened to her employees when she spread a baseless rumor and told them to keep it secret!

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This one or the lying yeller who came into a meeting and changed rant topics every time the employees demonstrated why they were right/justified.

      1. Maggie*

        I don’t know. The birthday boss is clearly nuts, but losing one day of birthday pay and gift card just can’t equal a 25% pay reduction/making a stay at home mother go back to work!

  26. J.E.*

    If I was the manager I would be mortified that I made such an error and I’d voluntarily resign from sheer embarrassment. I would feel so horrible! It’s strange that she has said nothing. I also question why she jumped the gun right away when she found those papers in the printer. If I were her, I would have discreetly asked a higher up if the information was true and how likely layoffs might be. I’d also think she had an ulterior motive if the poster hadn’t said that most of the team had worked for her for several years and I didn’t see the poster mention any complaints anyone had with the manager.

  27. Wehaf*

    This is exactly the kind of thing that should be on glassdoor; if this went on at a company and I were applying there, I would definitely want to know!

  28. Mimmy*

    I don’t remember this story so I went and read the original post. I can understand the hassle it’d be to have to allow the OP (and any others) to rescind their resignations since they’d already started the hiring process. However, at the very LEAST, the manager should’ve apologized. She said she was just trying to help–maybe she thought that was a sufficient apology, but it sure doesn’t sound sufficient!

    I don’t know that the manager should have been fired, particularly if her tenure has been otherwise problem-free. However, upper management should’ve at least given her a very stern talking-to.

    OP, I hope you eventually find a better-paying job!

  29. Former Employee*

    Someone said that per the original letter, the manager misunderstood and thought that what she saw was a fait accompli when what it really was, was a worst case scenario. This reminds me of what happens when people eavesdrop and hear only part of a conversation or what they hear is muffled, such as when listening through a closed door, and they fill in the blanks.

    Having said that, I also think there was a bit of catastrophizing going on. The manager told them in February about something that was to happen in June. The OP said that most if not all of the employees in the dept took a pay cut to be sure they would have a job because what if the layoff happened before they found another job and suppose unemployment ran out and they still did not have another job. The original timeline was 4 months (from February to June). Unemployment benefits normally last for 26 weeks – 6 mos. That means that everyone would have had 10 months from when the manager “informed” them about the layoff to find another job. Unless you are a high ranking executive, this seems like an ample amount of time, which is why I don’t understand why everyone went into such a panic that they took whatever job came along even if it meant a pay cut, having to move back home/move in with someone else, sell a car, etc.

    1. A Canuck Here*

      The OP was thoroughly lambasted for not doing what everyone thought she should (ie: she should have ignored her boss or waited for unemployment). Alison had to tell people to lay off her in the original post and even then it didn’t stop.

      OP was clear that she couldn’t have survived and paid all her bills if her unemployment ran out. All of her colleagues did their best to make sure they wouldn’t have to worry about unemployment running out or financial inability.

      How nice of you to assume that they could have easily found another job no problem and that being unemployed would not be long term. Must be nice up there on your high horse. You are as bad the people OP complained about in their original post.

      1. Zillah*

        I’m sympathetic to the OP and understand why they took the actions they did, but while it may not be universally true (and was not, in a situation I was in), saying that ten months should be enough time to find a new job isn’t the same thing as saying that someone could find a new job “no problem.”

  30. Beth*

    Given what happened they should have immediately fired her, and given each of you some sort of compensation. I think she did on purpose, hence the lack of remorse.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      They won’t even rehire them! Giving compensation would never happen at such a crappy company!

  31. Time to get that arranged marriage my parents want*

    I don’t know a thing about the business world, but from the perspective of a normal human…didn’t upper management wonder why an entire department were quitting at the same time?

    1. Ladylike*

      Exactly! I’ve seen managers come under serious scrutiny for this type of thing. Makes me wonder if she got some kind of incentive to handle the “layoffs” while sparing the company from paying unemployment benefits.

  32. Clementine*

    This story has a literary precedent from over 100 years ago. In Howards End, by E. M. Forster, the office worker Leonard Bast is advised by a thoughtless rich man that his current employer (an insurer) has no future, and to get out quickly. The thoughtless rich man changes his mind again a few weeks later, but in the meantime, Leonard has resigned his job and come to ruination. Meanwhile, the original company chugs along without problem.

    OP – thanks for the update, and I’m glad to hear you are making the best of a less than wonderful situation. I hope the financial aspect improves for you soon.

  33. Not So NewReader*

    OP, keep that positive attitude of yours. It will carry you through a lot of things. Your old boss is a very different person than you, she is an infectious worry wart. Unfortunately she is not having a positive impact on her people nor her company. Wait a few years and tell us how she is doing. I bet she has to change fields entirely. You, OTH, will probably end up promoted and making more money that you did at Old Job.

  34. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    They have a rule that there are “no take backs” for resignations?

    LOL wut. That’s asinine. Way to cut off your nose to spite your face. Having that as the typical response, 100% agree with but a “in the handbook, company policy”. Go kick rocks!

    I’m glad you’ve been able to find the silver lining. You’re also not stuck there forever, I hope you upgrade when the time is right!

  35. Then there's this*

    Given my experience with a similar situation, I will say this: It’s possible that the layoffs were definite, but when so many staff left, that changed the equation. Maybe management planned the layoffs, then many employees left, less expensive replacements were brought in, and then the layoffs were no longer necessary. I have seen this happen, on a small scale.

    1. Anon For This Post*

      The OP stated that their positions were advertised as being the same salary of the people leaving.

  36. restingbutchface*

    Why would you *not* listen to your boss?? You did what you had to do with the information you had. I’m so sorry. As a manager I constantly wonder if I’m doing well enough for my team but if I had done something so terrible I don’t think I could sleep at night.

    This is so sad and although you sound like you’ve made peace with it, it’s unfair and I’m sorry for you. Good luck with your new job.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I agree. I’m now very conscious of the fact that what comes out of my mouth as a manager (and an employee) will likely be taken very seriously by people. I’ve learned first-hand that you just don’t say certain things and expect that others will realize you’re joking, or that it’s a rumor, or something so early in the planning stages it’s not concrete; it’s bitten me in the butt a few times earlier in my career. I completely understand why OP and her team took the manager’s word. It absolutely sounded concrete, and most (some?) people trust their manager to tell them the truth about something like this. And not everyone would feel as though they could just march into the CEO’s office and ask if the rumor is true. Sure, if it was a fellow coworker I’d have thought OP would question it, but it came right from her manager, a person in authority.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Yes, this. I can remember a time at a previous job when someone said “I thought Coworker was joking at first when he said we were moving to Other Building, but then Manager said it”. I think a lot of people are more likely to take things seriously when a manager says it.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Weellll… I’ve been in a lot of weird work situations. Let’s just say I’ve learned not to trust too much what managers and CEO’s say. Cynical I am.

      But personally, I would’ve just waited for them to lay me off rather than taking a 75% pay cut based on the speculation I’d be laid off. You don’t do that until you absolutely, positively, grudgingly have to, like when you’re actually ON unemployment and it’s running out (been there done that little disco). I’ve learned to ALWAYS be prepared that your job could be cut every quarter when companies don’t meet Wall Street expectations and that companies lie all the time. It’s just part of work nowadays and don’t panic.

  37. Esme S*

    I’m still floored that four reasonable, professional people would throw away good jobs on the basis of what essentially a vague rumour! I can’t help but think something else had to be going on there. Didn’t they wonder why, over the months since the first announcement, their manager never had any additional details (and they never heard any relevant info from anyone else)? I just can’t help to feel that they didn’t do their due diligence before making a huge life move. Their reasoning might not go over so well with future prospective employers when asked to explain why they left this job.

    1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      It wasn’t a vague rumour, though. It was something their boss, and someone they had reason to trust, told them repeatedly. As far as OP and her colleagues could tell, it was true. People don’t throw away good jobs on a whim.

    2. A Canuck Here*

      “My boss told us in February (of 2017) we would be laid off in June, that there would be no severance and our last would likely be the same day we were told about our lay off. She repeatedly told us this for months leading up to all of us leaving.”

      I guess you didn’t read the original letter, any of the comments the OP left there, or the update.

    3. 2626o*

      yeah i would’ve gone up the chain or something to see if it was real. i also think this person should look for another new job now instead of being paid so little.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      It wasn’t a vague rumor though. They took the word of their manager, who had seen documentation (incorrect or speculative?) left on a copier. I mean, perhaps they should’ve gone to HR or higher level executives to confirm the layoffs before quitting like they did.
      The question I have is why DIDN’T they just wait and see if the “layoffs” happened? The worst scenario is that you’d get unemployment benefits for 3-4 months while you look for a job. I’d personally go that route rather than taking a 75% pay cut (if that’s the case unemployment might be higher), even if just to buy time to find a better position. I don’t know OP’s financial or their area’s employment situation, but it does feel like there was some panic (or pressure) setting in to find another job and not accept unemployment. Going on unemployment does isn’t fun, but there’s no stigma attached to using it when you need it. You pay taxes for that!

      It just sucks they were treated this way by this manager and this company. It smacks of exploitation. This is one of the worst stories ever.

      1. A Canuck Here*

        “myself and my coworkers did what we could to find jobs elsewhere so we wouldn’t end up jobless and possibly running the risk of still being unemployed when unemployment ran out”

        As the OP said, none of them could afford the risk of being jobless and having their unemployment run out. They did what they had to do in order to look after themselves and they should not be questioned. This is exactly what happened in the first letter that OP complained about.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          I guess it’s different attitudes about unemployment and risk. My husband and I have been in this situation a few times where you see the layoffs coming and you either sit tight and wait to become unemployed, or you pre-emptively jump. There’s risk in either path.

          Obviously, they did what they felt was best for them in the situation. Many economic factors come into play, including location/employment opportunities and a state’s UI policy, which may have made UI a worse option for them. It’s just that generally, you wouldn’t jump for so much less if comparable jobs are more plentiful.

          1. virago*

            Other factors that come into a “Should I stay or should I go?” decision include one’s other sources of support. Someone who is married, like you are, can afford to “sit tight and wait to become unemployed,” because you’re not the only wage earner in your household. For me and for other single people, the situation is different.

            1. Bananan*

              Certainly not all married people but only some couples can afford to lose one income. Just like not all single people cannot afford to wait it out. This was a very unfortunate situation for OP but lets not attribute it to her being single (which I don’t think you’re doing, but it just reads this way from the reply to MissDisplaced)

    5. Delphine*

      I think most reasonable employers understand that employees are expected to trust the word of their managers. If a manager tells you something, you don’t sit and wait and question it–you react to it.

  38. Nico M*

    I wonder if Op and friends could sue.

    If they sent lawyers letters to both the company and the boss, perhaps they could incriminate each other, and at least the boss would get fired for embarrassing them.

    1. Grey*

      That’s what I’m thinking, but I wouldn’t differentiate between to two like the OP is doing. Your boss is your employer (by representation) and your employer said that layoffs were pending. That’s exactly how I’d phrase it when I talk to my attorney.

    2. CM*

      I’m wondering if there’s a case for constructive dismissal or something similar, but I’m not sure. The reason I wonder is because encouraging people to terminate their own employment before X date could be seen as a way of trying to avoid your obligations when you dismiss them, similar to traditional forms of constructive dismissal (e.g., reassigning all of someone’s job duties and waiting for them to quit on their own so you don’t have to give them severance).

      I know that everyone claims it was all a misunderstanding, but you might be able to build a legal case anyway.

  39. JulieCanCan*

    OP you’re handling this very well and maturely – I’d be so pissed off and would’ve gone to every person above your manager to tell them what she did and said and how it all negatively effected SO MANY people. That’s just mind blowing and I can’t even imagine how she’s not feeling horribly guilty.

    Your attitude is great – I once was recruited from a job that I held for 12 years by a new company that had been in the press and was THE talk of the town in my particular industry for months and months. I went into the interview without really wanting the job but figuring I’d give it a shot. Long story longer, I was in my car on the way back to work after the interview when I the recruiter called me and said they wanted to hire me. Then it became a thing where everyone told me I’d be crazy not to jump at this INCREDIBLE , AMAZING and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This new company was like “Oz” – everyone on the inside was waxing poetic about how incredible the culture and company was, and how it was the best decision they could have made to leave their secure, high-ranking jobs at established, very secure well-known companies to be part of this new organization. But then once I actually got there I realized after observing and simply existing there that it was a giant ruse and a huge mess and all a bunch of lies that everyone was trying to convince themselves of. In under 2 years this organization folded; they tore through $250 MILLION dollars (on what? I don’t really know) and could not find another investor to give them the $300 million they were in need of to continue to function. I never in a million years even considered the company going under – it had been started by an expert and HUGE name in our industry, they had hired incredible people with incredible clients, and now all of those people, some of whom had 3-4 kids and $12,000 per month mortgages, were out of jobs. I was lucky – it’s just me that I’m taking care of. Some of my coworkers had to earn $15,000 per month just to make ends meet!

    I still hold a grudge and feel resentment towards the people who lied to me about various financial status issues and how secure the business was. I left a secure job where I had tons of PTO, good benefits, security, profit sharing, flexibility, etc etc etc to get in on the ground floor of this “incredible” new company that was being touted as the most exciting venture in decades, and a “sure win” based on those involved.

    The anger and resentment has dissipated, but I still have those moments of “why?”

    Your situation sounds worse, in that you trusted someone and now that her bizarre belief and adamantly stressed “warning” turned out to be 100% wrong, it’s too late and she clearly feels zero remorse. Ugh, I would be SO mad. People rearranged their lives!

    1. Nonsensical*

      I don’t know if having bitterness is the right thing. New ventures are always risky. That is part of the start up culture. It is a risk you take by joining one.

  40. Ladylike*

    This is one of the worst things I’ve heard in a long time. How does an adult read something she finds on a printer and encourage 4 people to quit their jobs based on her assumptions?? And then she doesn’t even quit?? I’m sure I’m being cynical, but it almost sounds like she just wanted to clean house but didn’t want to fire anyone. On the other hand, having every single direct report quit in a short period of time should have cast a serious shadow on her. The whole thing is bizarre.

    OP, I wish you happiness and I hope someday soon you’ll be back at the pay level that you deserve!

    1. Decima Dewey*

      It occurs to me that the company kept on OP’s former boss because they needed someone with departmental knowledge while people from other departments were pulled in to do the work when the entire department left.

  41. Fabrica*

    I don’t know if anyone mentioned it, and I don’t know much about employment law (or even if the LW is in the USA) but would the employees who left have enough to make a case of constructive dismissal?

    1. Grey*

      Exactly. For all we know, the boss did exactly what the company wanted her to do and duped four employees into resigning with no severance or UI benefits.

      Exhibit A: Boss still has her job.

  42. Nonsensical*

    I am confused what is stopping the employee from looking for a new job with better pay now that she has a stable job. If the economy isn’t great where she lives, maybe consider a move?

    1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      For what? Because boss erred? If it’s USA, workers have little to no rights. Maybe they could sue the manager as a group 9you can sue for a lot of things) but manager didn’t set out to destroy them. She was trying to heads them up. And the group willingly left, If the layoff had gone down, would you mention a lawsuit?

  43. Beth Anne*

    I think it’s crazy that you guys can never work there again. And that after all this happened nothing happened to the manager. I don’t know what I would have done…but I feel like I might have said something to someone hire up.

    1. JulieCanCan*

      Totally! It all sounds so very backwards. I mean, why wouldn’t an employee who left on good terms and (from all we know) was a stable, fine worker be allowed back? Such a weird rule if it’s an umbrella company policy about every single person who leaves regardless of their history and success in the organization.

      And the fact that the manager is just living her life and whistling away, “la la la….I disrupted my reports’ lives and they all completely went through hell for no reason but my stupidity and rush to judgment….la la laaaaaa….”

  44. Delphine*

    I find it so odd that the company was comfortable losing four employees in quick succession–their only reaction here was to find new employees and go on as if nothing had changed? No firing the manager, no asking people to return to their jobs, no apologies, nothing??

  45. Bananan*

    I am struggling to accept the management’s excuses of misreading a presumably sensitive document that was allegedly left at the printer…If it really happened, wouldn’t the manager address this sensitive info with her boss? What did she think would happen to her job? Was she freaked out by all of her people leaving?
    This just smells fishy…. OP, is your former manager an intelligent and capable person ? Is she a decision maker or just a pawn of upper management? Did she have your back when you worked there, or threw the team members under the bus if that made her look better?

  46. ByRookOrCrook*

    Maybe the layoff threat was real, but when the boss convinced everyone else to leave she was able to make up the difference. We also don’t know if she agreed to a pay cut for herself. While the new people are coming in with the same salary range, they won’t be costing the company the same amount of money for several more years.

    But I agree with the others that say it was a vague rumor. Didn’t anyone ask the manager if she’d ever heard any news from her supervisor to confirm what she saw in the copier? If she couldn’t supply any additional details, then I certainly would have stayed put. I would also have been asking the manager for weekly details on her own job search if she felt so strongly that layoffs were going to happen. Sadly, she totally led you astray in order to save her own job.

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