is it fair to give no notice when your boss has threatened to push resigning employees out early?

A reader writes:

I’m writing about a situation a friend/former coworker (Barbara) is in, and I’m wondering if there is any nuance we’re missing.

As background, I used to work at this location but the boss was pretty unbearable for a lot of reasons that I won’t bother to get into. Since I left, two others have left for greener pastures too (Dick, who basically took over my job but wasn’t compensated for it, and Jason, who was in a skilled position but not upper management).

When Jason gave two weeks notice, the manager (Bruce) was originally fine with it. Then with two days left of his notice time, Bruce told Jason he had to leave that day and tried to refuse to pay out his vacation. (Jason was able to get his vacation days. Eventually!)

After this, at one of the regular meetings with all of the managers, Bruce told them that two weeks was a courtesy, but he can fire any of them at any point, with no warning, since they’re at-will employees.

Recently, Barbara has been lucky enough to get another job offer, which she’s accepted. She has not notified Bruce, but is trying to document/wrap things up. She plans to stay for “two weeks” from when she accepted, without notifying Bruce until the last day, and not giving him two weeks notice, given the meeting.

It is worth noting that Barbara is in a high position in the org — immediately below Bruce, whereas Jason was one of the people who Barbara managed.

I’m not sure I would make the same call in Barbara’s place, but that’s mainly because my experience with Bruce was that he talked a big game but would usually back off when faced with reality. Unfortunately for Barbara, I was traditionally the one to help him realize what the reality was going to be, and since I’ve left the people seem to be more yes-men. So that being said, I support her decision to do this, although I do worry about her direct reports.

Before I left, I was Barbara’s manager for five years. I was one of her references for the job she just accepted and was happy to give it. I wasn’t aware of the two weeks notice situation prior to my reference, but given my own experiences with Bruce I have no intention of it changing how I give references for her in the future. Given that getting a reference from Bruce seems like something Barbara is not going to want to ever do, is there anything else about this situation which could bite her?

This is a situation entirely of Bruce’s own making.

Bruce is right that two weeks notice is a courtesy — it’s a courtesy from the employee. Employees aren’t required by law to give notice; it’s a convention that’s considered professional to follow, but when an employer shows that people will be treated poorly once they resign — and especially if they’re pushed out earlier — any reasonable employee will stop providing that courtesy to that particular employer.

Bruce is trying to frame a notice period as a courtesy from the employer, and that’s backwards. Most employees don’t much care if the employer wants them to leave earlier than two weeks, as long as they don’t lose money in the process … so it makes sense that people in your old office will start doing exactly what Barbara is doing: simply waiting until their intended last day to announce they’re leaving. That’s going to hurt the business more than it hurts them, and it’s incredibly short-sighted of Bruce to set that up.

Since you managed Barbara’s work for five years, you’re an ideal reference from this job. It’s possible that a future reference-checker will call the organization directly and may be told that she left without notice and/or is ineligible for rehire. If that happens, Barbara can explain, “I didn’t offer a notice period because the employer had recently started having people leave before the end of their notice and I couldn’t afford to lose the pay for that time. I’ve always given notice previously, as my other references can confirm, and will always do so in the future unless there were extenuating circumstances like that.”

There’s really no other way this could come back to bite her. I mean, sure, if she’s applying for a job someday where Bruce is involved in hiring, he might mention that she left without notice and it could harm her … but she probably doesn’t want to take a job where Bruce is involved in hiring anyway.

I get why you’re uneasy about it, especially since you’ve been able to make Bruce see reason in the past. But the thing about being someone who requires other people to talk sense into you — like Bruce — is that not everyone will make that effort or believe that it will matter if they do. Barbara isn’t wrong not to want to bother, or not to risk that this will be a time Bruce can’t be persuaded. His volatility has invited exactly what Barbara is doing.

In fact, Barbara should talk to her employees before she leaves, explain why she timed her resignation the way she did, and assure them that it won’t affect the reference she gives them if they choose to do the same thing when it’s their turn.

{ 218 comments… read them below }

  1. I'm A Little Teapot*

    The phrases “be careful what you ask for”, “you reap what you sow”, the Golden Rule, etc exist for reasons. Bruce is an example of those reasons.

    1. lyonite*

      Or, in slightly more crass terms, Bruce has F’d around, and now he has arrived in the Land of Finding Out.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Kind of sounds as though he crash landed into the Land of Finding Out, honestly, whether he knows it or not.

    2. Dr. BOM*

      FAFO also comes to mind, as does “‘I never thought leopards would eat MY face,’ sobs woman who voted for the Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party.”

      1. I Have RBF*

        I tend to write FAFO as FA&FO, personally, but yeah, it’s “Oh, if it isn’t the obvious consequences of my actions.”

        1. Not my real name*

          My son’s favorite band has a song called “Consequences” that I like to link in these sort of situations. The chorus is “What’s this: the consequences of my actions?”

    3. Heffalump*

      What goes around, comes around.

      Treat people well on the way up, you may meet them on the way down.

    4. learnedthehardway*

      What goes around, comes around.

      Also, in this situation, I don’t see that Barbara has anything to lose by failing to give notice, and she has a great deal less stress to experience if she doesn’t give notice. The OP is a perfectly relevant reference for her current role, and managed her in the same company for 5 years. She doesn’t need Bruce as a reference, and he seem very temperamental and petty, so wouldn’t be the ideal person to rely on as a reference, even if Barbara walks on water. (That’s the problem with references – some are better people than others.)

      With respect to her current team, that’s the only area where I would say she might want to consider giving 2 weeks notice – ie. so the team has some time to get used to the idea that there will be a transition. Barbara might owe it to the team, although she doesn’t owe it to Bruce (or to the company, either, if they let Bruce get away with treating outgoing employees badly.)

      1. Emikyu*

        Your last paragraph makes a good point, but even then I’d tread carefully if I were Barbara. If a team member lets it slip to Bruce that she’s planning on leaving without notice, she could end up being pushed out early anyway. Also, while I personally would appreciate the heads up if I were on her team, I could see a lot of people being uncomfortable being essentially asked to keep a secret.

        So I think in Barbara’s shoes I wouldn’t tell them either; I’d just apologize profusely and explain why on my way out. But that’s with hypothetical strangers; if I knew these people well I might act differently based on that.

      2. TootsNYC*

        There are many ways Barbara can set them up to cope when she vanishes.
        She can duplicate copies of all important files; organize and forward relevant emails.

        She can have conversations in which she lays out institutional knowledge, etc
        She can announce that this is all about helping peopel grow building in redundancies since the COVID era has made her realize people could be suddenly hospitalized or out of pocket.

        That’s what I did, when I sensed either a job offer or a layoff was imminent.

      3. Observer*

        She doesn’t need Bruce as a reference, and he seem very temperamental and petty, so wouldn’t be the ideal person to rely on as a reference, even if Barbara walks on water.


        She doesn’t need him, and couldn’t depend on him anyway.

    5. I Have RBF*

      Yep. Bruce has set up a scenario where it’s disadvantageous and potentially financially damaging for employees to give two weeks notice. So his employees should leave with no notice period. Bed. Made. Lie.

      Note that this is different from the job where you give notice and they walk you out the same day but continue your pay for those two weeks. That type of “gardening leave” does not financially harm the employee. What Bruce is doing does.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Yes. Bruce can enjoy his bed filled with angry jellyfish and thumbtacks; it’s not Barbara’s problem.

    6. DJ Hymnotic*

      I once worked for an especially toxic business owner and would have been happy to see the back of them the day I quit, but I still offered two weeks’ notice because, as Alison notes here, professional decorum dictates as such. On Friday of the first week of my notice period, Toxic Business Owner calls me and tells me not to come in to work today, yesterday was my last day and my final paycheck will be direct deposited.

      The other two people who were on my team quit several months after I did, and they both quit right before extended holiday weekends so that their two weeks’ notice functionally became a little over one week’s notice.

      The petty, FAFO side of me was…not sad when I heard that bit of news. Demanding loyalty while communicating very clearly that you will not return it is a surefire way to lose good employees.

    1. Fikly*

      Generally speaking, the people who bellow loudly about fairness are the ones that believe they are the exception to everything.

  2. Anon in Canada*

    There are certain industries and jobs where making resigning employees leave on the spot is necessary to prevent them from stealing customers or trade secrets (especially if they’re going to work for a competitor) – but in those cases, it’s just basic decency ad professional convention to pay them for the 2 weeks beyond their last day.

    Any employer that pushes people out before the end of their notice period and doesn’t pay them for the rest of this period loses the right to expect notice, regardless of whether pushing them out was necessary for the course of business or not.

    1. Alldogsarepuppies*

      I have found in those industries the employees know that 2 weeks notice doesn’t apply and time their resignation for their last day of pay (related to when they start the new job).

      1. VaguelySpecific*

        I am in one of those industries….it is known that if you are leaving for a competitor (which happens frequently as there are multiple competitors in our area) OR do not wish to reveal where you are going to, when you give notice It’s always an immediate termination. But it does sound like OP is referring to terminations that happen a few days after they give notice which is just bananapants unless the employee is blatantly violating company policy or something.

        1. LW*

          I gave two weeks and worked them — wrapping things up, without it being a problem, and so did Dick. It’s not really an industry with any trade secrets to be had.

          But I was lucky enough to be able to cite family reasons for my move, whereas both Dick and Jason would’ve been harder pressed to tell the same white lie. I suspect Bruce just wanted to punish Jason, didn’t want to pay him any more than absolutely necessary, and didn’t think it through, at all.

          1. Beth*

            Once a team has seen their manager lash out to punish a departing employee like that–even if it only happened once–it’s completely reasonable for them to be wary of giving a notice period. That’s an incredibly good reason to fear retaliation, and any manager who acts like that also probably can’t be trusted to be a good reference, so there’s no reason to give the courtesy of 2 weeks notice.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      Wouldn’t an employee on the way out intent on stealing customers or trade secrets plan ahead and do the dirty deeds before giving notice?

      1. learnedthehardway*

        You would think, right? It does seem a bit short-sighted and like companies are shooting themselves in the foot, when they are reactive like this.

        1. CommanderBanana*

          I think by and large it’s a very stupid policy, unless you have legitimate concerns about the employee leaving.

          I will never forget arriving onsite to run a large conference and finding out that our events contact on the hotel side, with whom we’d worked closely in the planning and run-up to this event, had given her notice the day before. She’d purposefully waited until she could see our conference through, and would have been able to run the conference and the wrap-up during her last two weeks.

          Instead, they marched her off-property and assigned someone else to our event who had no idea what was going on. I was livid.

          1. Tute83*

            And hopefully you don’t go back and you do let everyone know what kind of jerks the hotel was.

        2. Miette*

          I worked at a company that routinely walked resigning employees out the door the day they gave notice. Everyone knew it and expected it and made the most of their paid two-week vacation, because at least they’d pay out your notice period plus any unused vacation. The place was notorious for treating people like crap (example: annual reviews consisted of the top 3 things a person needed to improve on in the year ahead AND NOTHING ELSE) and everyone hated working there.

          The REAL reason they did it was that they did not want you swanning about the place in a state of constant glee around the rest of your terminally miserable, soon-to-be ex-coworkers. It tended to foment unrest they didn’t like to deal with.

      2. Antilles*

        I’ve always thought that too. My best guess is that these sorts of policies were originally written and intended for layoffs or firings when the employee might be angry or vengeful, then just sort of morphed to general standard practice without anybody ever really bothering to think through whether it still makes sense.

      3. Some Words*

        I honestly think it’s projection. Sociopaths are over represented at the top of corporate hierarchies. They’re making policies based on their own ethical standards (and lack thereof).

        1. Heffalump*

          Yep, judging others by themselves.

          I once worked for someone like this–a real “The Devil Wears Prada” situation. In one case my manager gave notice and was told, “You can’t quit, you’re fired.” An employee gave notice–so far, so good–but then at his exit interview, he committed the unforgivable crime of criticizing the way the owner ran the company, and he was fired on the spot. This at a time when we were slammed (the mandatory OT was taking a toll on the health of one of our peers) and the loss of a warm body really hurt.

          Basically, the owner was mean for the sake of being mean.

        2. CommanderBanana*

          Oh, I am completely certain the CEO at my last organization was a sociopath. He would even brag about not feeling emotion or seeing people as human. Fortunately I didn’t have to interact with him that much, but he had these dead shark eyes.

      4. Mclefty*

        You would think, but unfortunately I’ve seen instances over the years of people making poor choices the last two weeks (printing tons of company info, forwarding client info to their yahoo email or personal cell phone etc). It’s just easier to thank them for their time and allow them to wrap up and then pay out the notice period. We always honor the resignation date the employee provided.

        1. miss_chevious*

          Yeah, we call it payment in lieu of notice at my job. Basically, the employee is allowed to be on the payroll for their last two weeks, but they are prohibited from working and their equipment is taken, badges deleted, etc. It’s a way to maintain security but also be respectful to employees who may need the pay for the last two weeks.

      5. Throwaway Account*

        I think this is a policy from the pre-digital days.

        I once worked for a yoga studio where every student existed only on a card, no computer files. It took one of the teachers weeks to “steal” the client list. She had to sneak out small batches of the cards, copy them, and replace them before they were missed. She took them to advertise her own studio to them.

        1. La Triviata*

          Many years ago, it was standard practice to make the day an accountant, bookkeeper, etc., gave notice their last day and escort them out. A friend of my mother’s had this happen and she was devastated, thinking she’d done something; when I explained that it had become standard practice, she felt better.

      6. Turquoisecow*

        It was common practice at my old job that if someone left for a competitor they’d be made to leave that day. I thought it was dumb because if they were going to pass on secrets they probably would have done it already. But there were a few times where this didn’t happen, usually if it was a job where the role was hard to fill (because it was a difficult one), so I think it was more sour grapes on the part of management than actual security concerns.

      7. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Yes. I had copied everything I wanted from my hard drive before saying a word about not signing the new contract I was being bullied into accepting.

    3. Roland*

      I agree that there are industries where it’s standard, but I don’t buy that it’s necessary. People who are going to steal information from their employer don’t need to wait until they give notice to do it.

      1. kiki*

        Yeah, the process of getting a new job takes weeks, if not months. And the person who is leaving also determines the date that they actually tell their employer they’re leaving. Anyone determined to steal trade secrets would simply do so before they announce their departure. But maybe there are also jobs that truly don’t need any much or any transition time, so there’s no need for them to “wrap things up.” That seems somewhat rare, to me, though

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          Mind you, there was a colleague who came back after his notice period was up, because he’d decided to take the boss to court and wanted to pick up some papers and print out a few emails. He was flabbergasted to see that his computer was no longer there, and all papers had long gone to the shredder. Er, dude, you thought we’d leave your desk like a shrine to the time you spent here?

    4. Statler von Waldorf*

      In my experience, this is very common in Canada. Unlike the US, there are actually laws in Canada that change the two week notice period from a professional courtesy to a legal obligation.

      On the employer’s side, they are legally obligated to pay out your notice period as per part III of the Canada Labour Code. On the employee’s side, you can be held responsible for failure to give “reasonable notice,” and can be held liable in court if the company suffers financial damages as a result of your sudden resignation. The latter tends to be rarely enforced, but it is the law in Canada.

      1. BellyButton*

        I was about to post the same thing. When living in Canada, I was told my 2 weeks wouldn’t be required and they paid out my 2 weeks and my accrued vacation.

      2. Anon in Canada*

        The Canada Labour Code only applies to federal government employees, and employees of federally regulated industries (banks, telecom companies, airlines, railways). I think those only represent 4% of the private sector workforce; everyone else is covered under provincial laws where details around this may vary.

    5. Sloanicota*

      To be fair, it sounds in the case of the previous employee like he did work most of his two weeks but was sent home two days before the end of that period. I almost wondered if Bruce was unhappy with the way he was serving his notice (or just realized they weren’t going to have everything nicely wrapped up and got pouty about it).

      1. Fikly*

        If Bruce is the kind of manager where he requires people working under him to spend a significant amount of time mitigating the impact of their behavior, it is extremely unlikely there is a reasonable explanation for Bruce’s behavior.

        Bruce is simply an adult man having a tantrum at work, as he commonly does, and has always been able to do so without facing consequences that have impacted him in such a way that his behavior changed.

        1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          Yup, and without therapy (or journaling, or some other way of learning introspection) Bruce will not learn from this experience and change his ways. Instead, he’ll learn from this experience and work hard to hire people who can be intimidated into bending to his will. Let’s hope he isn’t the owner of the company.

          1. Fikly*

            Oh, there are plenty of Bruce’s in HR. Just read the letters on this site.

            Plus, as long as Bruce’s behavior hasn’t yet caused a consequence that cost the company money from an HR perspective (ie, a lawsuit that actually happened) HR is unlikely to care, because of the effort needed to actually deal with Bruce, which is either deal with him in a way that changes his behavior, or deal with him in a way that results in him leaving and having to hire someone else.

    6. Artemesia*

      This is kind of silly though. If I am looking for a job then I am making copies of anything I want to take with me and transferring what data I want to a stick and making sure my personal stuff is wiped off any business computer or phone BEFORE I give notice. I am not going to give notice and then start my industrial espionage.

      It makes sense to require someone to leave that day to avoid sabotage especially if they have access to important systems and information; that can be a general policy but it should always go with two weeks pay.

    7. Busy Middle Manager*

      I used to work in support for a sales pool. Management wasn’t even afraid of them poaching customers, that’s not why they asked people to leave. It was just pointless to have someone wining and dining people or making cold calls when it was going to have to be handed over to someone else in two weeks anyway. It’s possible logistically but practically too cumbersome to bring customers with you unless it’s an account you personally grew from scratch. And the other company would know, if they’re poaching from the other job, they’ll do it to us when they leave.

    8. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      FinalJob (engineering) made employees leave the day they gave notice iff they were going to a competitor. It’s SOP for the industry.
      Obviously horse has already bolted if they planned to steal widget secrets, BUT legally (Germany) an employer always has to pay the notice period in full, including all saved comp days

      So leaving for a competitor gave an employee an immediate 4-6 weeks paid holiday :D

  3. HonorBox*

    Is it possible, however, that not giving the requested notice could allow the employer not to pay out PTO? I’m just curious because it seems like with the first person in this letter who quit, the payout for the earned vacation was held over his head. I’m not sure how this works and was just wondering that as I read both the letter and Alison’s advice.

    1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      In some states, employers are required to pay out vacation time (but never sick time). Not giving notice (remember: it’s a courtesy and customary but not legally required) can’t change that.

      In other states, they are not required to pay out vacation time (but of course they can still have policies that they do). We don’t know what state this happened in, but regardless: a legal requirement isn’t the same as “it automatically happens” and crappy businesses might still try to get away without paying out vacation pay.

      I had a tense conversation once with the agency that paid me for the contract work I did, where the customer thought I was not giving them all the work I had completed. (This was not true.) The agency rep threatened to hold my final paycheck if I didn’t turn the non-existent work over … and that’s completely illegal in my state and perhaps nationwide. Lots of people outside of HR don’t actually know labor law very well.

    2. Past Lurker*

      This would be the case at my workplace, you would lose at least half of your PTO.
      Barbara could explain to a potential employer if given the chance, but many would just toss her resume after hearing she didn’t give expected notice or that she’s not eligible for rehire.

      1. Me...Just Me*

        Who’s checking references prior to interviewing the prospective employee, though? I think it highly unlikely that Barbara’s resume is going to get tossed for this reason. If they’re checking history and background to that extent, they’d also check Barbara’s references – which would be glowing. As a hiring manager (in the past), I didn’t put much stock in the “rehireble” question. There’s just so many reasons why a split might not be a good one for all parties.

        1. LW*

          When giving her reference I was asked if I would ever rehire her and said yes (that was prior to not knowing she’s not giving two weeks — but given the situation doesn’t change my answer at all). So hopefully even if someone does put stock in this question it’s not a problem.

        2. MassMatt*

          The value of a reference from someone of such low character as to fire someone during their notice period, try to avoid paying their accrued vacation time, and hold a meeting where they described a two week notice period as a “courtesy” (to the employees!?) and issued a threat that anyone could be fired at any time is negligible. Especially since she got another job away from them already without their dubious help. If she didn’t need the reference to get this job, why would she need it for the next one?

          This employer eff’d around and is finding out.

          This reminds me of the letter about an employer that had everyone’s job listed at all times, so employees would “get the message” that they were replaceable. I would love to know what the turnover was in the year since they did that.

          1. Momma Bear*

            Exactly. There are a lot of reasons to not want your current boss to be contacted as a reference. This would hardly be the first.

    3. Bilateralrope*

      If I earned that vacation pay, I’m going to try and find a way to make sure I get it.

      Given the fight Jason had over his PTO, my way out of that organisation would be to try and use all of my PTO. Then resign without notice.

      1. FrivYeti*

        I worked somewhere like that once. They didn’t have a policy of paying out vacation time, so the mail room assistant took all three week of his vacation, and then informed his manager that he would not be returning.

        I had been hired as a temp worker to cover those three weeks, which rapidly morphed into a six-month position while the mail room manager panicked and fretted and didn’t get around to posting the job.

    4. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

      In many states it is up to (and binding on) what the handbook says, and it would be totally legal to say “PTO is paid out unless you don’t give two weeks notice.”

      Also, the handbook could say “if you don’t give two weeks notice, you are ineligible for rehire.” (one of my employers had that in the handbook).

      So, by quitting with no notice, you could be taking a possibility (no reference and no PTO payout) and making it a certainty.

  4. Alex*

    I have to wonder what Bruce’s motive is here. To show he has power over people? Because it mostly hurts him, not employees, to let people go during their notice period. Does he think it will prevent people from leaving? I mean, of course it won’t, obviously. I really just don’t get what he thinks he is accomplishing by making it known he might fire you during your notice period.

    1. Lana Kane*

      Given that he let Jason go with just 2 days of his notice left, I wonder if Bruce just has no self-regulation and was in a bad mood that day, or something happened that set him off in a fit of pique.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        Even so, I’m not sure I’m going to trust “a good reference” against someone who fires someone in a fit of pique during a notice period. Especially when it sounds like he’s since stated this is his unofficial stance and policy.

        A good reference doesn’t necessarily put a roof over my head, but once upon a time, I was in a position where losing two days pay did put me at risk of not making rent.

        1. MassMatt*

          A good point, two day’s pay is more than some people can afford to lose, plus there are lots of jobs where you need to be employed by the end of the month/quarter/year to be eligible for incentive pay, sales and performance bonuses, etc.

    2. kiki*

      Some people genuinely have little emotional regulation and just like to feel like they have power or control, even if it’s over something silly or will hurt them in the long term. These sorts of people should never be put in a position to become managers, and yet…

    3. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      I’ve mostly seen this play out with managers who take resignations personally, like someone found another job at him, and it’s a comment on him. Which I’ve also seen to be a self-fulfilling prophecy: you pull shenanigans and pout and push people out early and your team starts polishing their resumes!

    4. Capt. Liam Shaw*

      I don’t think there has to be a motive. Sometimes
      people let the power go to their heads then they flex that power the minute something happens. A lot of managers forget the old adage. The axe forgets but the tree remembers. If you acting erratic and explosive as a manager, your staff isn’t going to forget just because you did.

    5. Kelly*

      I worked for a guy (owner of a vet clinic) who would have tantrums when someone quit and freeze them out. He took everything personally and was also abusive, so basically just an a-hole with narcissistic tendencies. He told us once during a staff meeting about morale if we weren’t happy to quit. Half the vets quit and he was shocked and angry because it’s a field where they have a LOT of trouble finding people willing to work long hours for peanuts. He couldn’t look past the end of his own nose in his constant outrage about having employees instead of indentured servants (he complained about having to pay us all the time).

      1. not a hippo*

        God I wished that happened at the crap vet I worked for. Nope, Dr Jackass never learned and was able to retire quite comfortably when the county bought the land his practice was on.

    6. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      I think it’s just a power move.
      Bosses don’t always act logically. A survey showed that when asked which employee they prefer, they choose the one who stays late to meet productivity goals over the one that meets those goals before it’s time to go home…
      (My boss demonstrated this amply: my colleague who worked late was his Golden Girl, and even though I produced twice as much billable work in less time, he hated me because I left at 4pm on the dot to pick my kids up from school. When he bothered to run the stats and saw that I was twice as productive, he merely yelled at my colleague. No pay rise or bonus for me).

  5. Lainey L. L-C*

    Sounds like they are trying to get out of paying for vacation time or just be vindictive and “fire” employees so they can’t quit.

    When I left ex-job, I ended up giving a month’s notice, due to my start time and I could help train/wrap up projects before leaving. However, a few years before I left, they had sent out a memo saying while two weeks was customary, they only expected 24 hours notice! People began quitting with 1 day notice or on a Friday and not coming back Monday, and the managers were mad. But…you said…

    1. Anne Shirley*

      Agree. It’s also possible Bruce is SO petty and vindictive, he wants to say he “fired” the person (despite solid evidence to the contrary) to employees and future reference checkers, just to muddy the waters and plant seeds of doubt. Employees will doubt their own memories; reference checkers will have to double-check the information with the applicant and their references.

    2. Sloanicota*

      The vacation thing is a different issue than the short leave, IMO. I’ve worked for plenty of places that don’t pay out vacation (it’s not required in my state) and also don’t let you take leave after you give notice (a short sighted policy I’ve always thought) but that just means you take a long vacation before you give notice.

  6. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    OP seems to feel that Bruce has a lot of power over Barbara’s career. But she got THIS job without using Bruce as a reference. She should be able to leave her next job the same way. And not paying out vacation? That is illegal pretty much everywhere. Shout out to Barbara for not being held hostage to a petty despot who thinks he has more power than he does.
    And OP, it is cool that you are looking out for Barbara, but please rethink your attitude about Bruce. Instead of recommending that his future employees give in to his petty (I oughtta know) and illegal (pretty sure I know) demands, think more about advocating for them, being a reference and patting them on the back for getting the hell out.

    1. Lisa*

      ” And not paying out vacation? That is illegal pretty much everywhere.”

      Actually it’s legal in most of the US unless your internal policies say it will be paid out (in which case you have to follow that policy).

    2. I should really pick a name*

      And not paying out vacation? That is illegal pretty much everywhere

      If I’m not mistaken, the legality of that varies depending on the state you’re in.

      1. Birdie*

        And I’ve seen many employers gets around this by moving to a PTO system, not distinct paid sick and vacation time. if it’s all lumped as PTO, it usually falls outside state laws that mandate unused vacation time be paid out.

        1. Anon in Canada*

          Combined PTO must be paid out if state law requires vacation to be paid out.

          What you are thinking about is “unlimited” PTO – since there is no number of days accrued, there is nothing to pay out even if state law requires vacation/combined PTO to be paid out.

          It’s also never truly unlimited and results in people taking less time off that they would with a traditional vacation or combined PTO bank, since there are no guidelines on how much is appropriate to take and people don’t want to be seen as slackers.

          1. MassMatt*

            I’ve known several people that work(ed) at places with “unlimited” PTO and without exception they worked WELL over 40 hours a week (often over 60) and take very little time off. One I know bragged about “taking PTO” and when asked about it, simply meant he did not work on a Sunday. Once.

            If you interview at a place with an unlimited PTO policy, ask lots of questions of potential coworkers about what hours they actually work and what PTO they have actually taken.

        2. CommanderBanana*

          Yes, the whole “unlimited PTO” thing may sound good, but it screws over employees and it solely for the benefit of the company. Like so many other dubious “benefits” popping up now.

          1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

            A couple of people in my group were discussing that one time:
            “did you hear about this unlimited time?”
            “Oh, that would be good.”
            “Hey, not Tom, what do you think?”
            And yeah, I’m that “years old” that I said:
            “people get judgmental about how many sick days a person takes now.* I can only imagine the blow back to morale if our company did this.”
            “You really think so?”

            *three guesses who spends their days gatekeeping others’ vacation and sick days. “Not Tom, you didn’t mark the calendar!”

            So in theory, it’s great. In practice, it’s people. It will be a contest to see who uses the least. Or the most. I think have unlimited sick time, but don’t call it that. Just say, when you are sick you are sick.

          2. I'm an engineer*

            I still don’t understand hwo “unlimited PTO” is possible even in theory. It sounds as though the idea is that unmotivated (or demotivated) employees just take as much leave as they can until they’re fired, and the motivated ones pick up the slack. And the firing presumably happens for “did not deliver what was required”, but that just leads directly to impossible deliverables. Hence your reaction that this is just to prevent employees taking a day off, ever, even weekends.

            But I live in Australia where we have a legally required 38 hour work week and I’ve been either on salary or contract rates for decades. So I work a 38 hour week or I bill the customer at my normal hourly rate time 1.5 for every hour I’m there. It’s cheaper to hire a second contractor than have me work weekends, and the people I work for are smart enough to know that. I’ve just earned my long service leave (NSW, 2 months after 10 years) and am about to have six months off… with unlimited PTO I can see that earned six months becoming the ten-ish years until I retire (why would I quit a job if they’re paying me to not work?)

    3. LW*

      Hm, sorry I came off that way. I think Barbara is doing the right thing for her. It’s not what I would do in her place, but my relationship with Bruce was different then hers. Mainly in that I had to keep him from violating the law a fair number of times and had to get our legal advisor to back me up, which meant he would be more likely to take what I said seriously.

      I am, admittedly, not there to help and I don’t know how much worse he’s gotten since I’ve left. I still have anxiety attacks when I think about talking to him, so take that for what it’s worth.

      I do expect she is going to have a really uncomfortable conversation when she gives her notice, but I know she expects that. I just wanted to make sure — since she’s not expecting a reference from him, and they are in a state where vacation payout is required, that there’s nothing else that could go badly for her.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        You are a great advocate. I think all your concerns are valid. Every awful way you imagine Bruce will react will be how he reacts, plus other things that you can’t foresee because you are not a human suckhole.
        But Barbara made her decision. She is making the best of a bad situation and there is nothing more she can do.
        He is volatile and capricious. He didn’t have a problem with other person’s two weeks for 8 days, then he did. He could be great for her two weeks and in two years, tank her reference anyway.
        It’s a frustrating situation because there is nothing you can do.

      2. Zarniwoop*

        It may be uncomfortable but if it starts a 4:55 on her last day it will at least be short.

        1. Zarniwoop*

          I meant “I do expect she is going to have a really uncomfortable conversation when she gives her notice”

            1. allathian*

              In Barbara’s shoes I’d just give notice by email. Bruce’s forfeited any and all consideration by his behavior.

  7. Scarlet Ribbons in her Hair*

    Alison wrote the following:

    “It’s possible that a future reference-checker will call the organization directly and may be told that she left without notice and/or is ineligible for rehire. If that happens, Barbara can explain, “I didn’t offer a notice period because …”

    That could happen if Barbara’s new prospective company gives Barbara the opportunity to explain why her being ineligible for rehire at her former company is not a bad mark against her. But do all prospective companies do that? Do they all give applicants an opportunity to explain why a previous company would never hire them again? Or do they just say, “Well, she’s ineligible for rehire at that company, so we certainly don’t want her”?

    1. Industry Behemoth*

      Ideally, any prospective employer would contact the candidate’s current employer last in the reference checking process. And keep in mind that the current employer has the most incentive to bad-mouth the candidate.

      This could also apply to other former employers. Has anyone here observed this sort of thing firsthand?

      1. I'm an engineer*

        I’ve done reference checks, and had friends do them for my references. In Australia it’s very rare to hear anything negative, but you often get brutally honest evaluations. “works the contracted hours for the money promised. Not interested in being promoted or in socialising”. Which to some employers is brilliant, and others will go “but I want them to be my friend” and be all sad. We do have a few “all references are given by HR, who will confirm position and dates of employment”. I’ve only dealt with them when hiring recent grads, they seem to be the churn’n’burn minimum wage places.

    2. mlem*

      It would be a pretty shortsighted company that didn’t ask for details of why. Which isn’t to say they don’t exist! But in this job market (for many, not all, fields), companies that do their due diligence are more likely to succeed.

  8. Jiminy Cricket*

    Question: If someone gives two weeks notice but their employer says, “Then today is your last day,” then, from a U.S. employment law perspective, did they resign or were they fired? And what does that mean for their unemployment eligibility or COBRA?

    1. dawbs*

      IMO, it usually means they qualify for unemployment…but they probably don’t have to check the ‘ever been fired?’ box on future applications.
      I know several people who have gotten unemployment after an employer pulled this crap.

      It’s been a while since I had to deal w/ COBRA–DOesn’t it exist even if you were fired? I think that one isn’t optional.

      1. Artemesia*

        COBRA is available regardless of how you leave and at least when we used it to bridge my husband from my insurance to medicare, you don’t have to pay for the first two months unless you use it. We applied for COBRA, headed for France for a 3 mos celebration of my retirement and that November when he turned 65, we got him on medicare and dropped the COBRA having not ever used it or paid for it.

        1. Clisby*

          COBRA is still that way – if you don’t use it within the first 60 days, you don’t have to pay for it if you’ve secured other coverage by then. If you haven’t gotten other coverage and want to continue with COBRA, you have to pay for the back 60 days plus coverage going forward.

          1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

            Wait seriously?!? I changed jobs at the beginning of August last year and the new job insisted that I couldn’t be covered until the Sept 1. Because I left old job like Jul 27 I had to pay COBRA for 27-31 Jul and all of August even though I didn’t have any appointments then; my last appointment was like 24 Jul.

            1. Pretty as a Princess*

              Yup. You can retroactively elect COBRA. It’s a good strategy for people precisely n your situation. If you wind up needing the coverage, you can retroatively elect. If you wind up needing care or Rx refills, you can weigh the OOP cost against the COBRA election and decide what is smart to do.

          2. MassMatt*

            This is good to know, with Obamacare COBRA is not the essential lifeline is used to be but it’s a good thing because it was/is usually eye-popping expensive.

    2. Anne Shirley*

      It would be a resignation. The employee initiated the conversation and announced their resignation. The employer responded with “Then…”

      In general, I don’t think they would qualify for unemployment compensation. Not without jumping through hoops. They might have a shot if the employer had made the environment unbearable or created an unworkable situation (e.g. we want you to relocate across the country and take a pay cut). Not sure about COBRA.

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        This happened to me. Of course, it happened 40 years ago…. I resigned from a position and gave a couple of months’ notice because I had plans to move to another city. That Friday, my manager said it was my last day. I couldn’t afford to lose those wages! I applied for unemployment; the company fought and said they’d given me all kinds of warnings for — can’t remember, maybe chronic tardiness? Whatever, it wasn’t true — but since they had never documented those warnings they never gave me, it didn’t count and they had fired me without cause and I got my money.

    3. Kage*

      From my experience, they would be eligible for unemployment for that period of time between the date they were walked-out to the date that they were intending to leave. The question usually is more is it worth it to file with their state with their state’s waiting period/rules. For example, if they get walked out 3 days into their 10-business day notice period and their state has a 5-day waiting period, they’d only qualify for unemployment on 2 days of work. Is that worth filing for? For states with very low max-weekly payout limits, it could be a lot of paperwork for maybe $50.

      Benefits/cobra are probably a different question as it heavily relates to the timing of when they are escorted out (as most benefits run through the end of a calendar month even if you leave mid-month). You would probably technically be eligible for cobra; it’s again more a question of does it make sense for your needs and when your new employer benefits kick in.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. I retired in August and my insurance ran to August 31. My husband is younger than me and had retired early and was on my insurance. So we applied for COBRA for him until he was eligible for Medicare in November when he turned 65. so had coverage if disaster struck but didn’t ever have to pay the cost since you get two months to pay initially.

        I know someone who resigned after taking another job on the opposite coast and then was diagnosed with a serious illness requiring intensive costly treatment (don’t they all) and he could not take up the new position. He was lucky that his old employer took him back. I don’t think that same employer would do that today. It is really important to not be without insurance in the US.

      2. AngryOctopus*

        I left my last job Dec 2. I wasn’t paid out for the whole time due to some BS that happened when they made PTO a bucket for all, but 1-didn’t really tell anyone and 2-I had migraines, so when you’re puking, you gotta be off, so we came to some agreement about days/payout, where I didn’t have to pay anything back (was prepared to, but didn’t have to). Anyway, I was assured that I would have health insurance through the end of the month separate from all that. I got my mammogram as usual in Dec. 5 months later turns out whoops, nope, you didn’t have health insurance!! Haha! Here is the bill for your mammogram!! I was able to use the HSA money I cashed out to cover it, but I was so annoyed. HR was fired from that job for many and varied reasons, this incompetence being one of them. I mean, it would have been OK if I had not had health insurance for that month! I would have rescheduled my mammogram!

    4. kiki*

      I’ve always wondered about this! Especially because most employers call previous employees to ask whether they resigned or were let go. If I told a company I’m applying to that I resigned but my company says they let me go (because they didn’t let me finish my notice), will that make me look sketchy? Or does this sort of thing come up somewhat often in employment verification?

    5. Generic Name*

      This happened at my last job. I gave 2 weeks’ notice, 3 days later boss says, “We’re accepting your resignation, effective immediately”. They gave me info to sign up for COBRA. No idea if they consider my separation a firing or a resignation. I was leaving for another job, so unemployment didn’t come into play.

  9. RVA Cat*

    Bruce reminds me of a certain celebrity CEO who has whole teams devoted to talking sense to him at the two companies where human lives could be at stake. Meanwhile he’s gone full chaos Muppet at the one that only exists online.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        Yeah, chaos muppet implies charming and means well, but kind of a disorganized trainwreck. Not whatever it is that he’s doing.

        1. linger*

          The sad thing is the nominative determinism involved. Look at his name and you immediately know any scandal he originates will just go further and further
          (i.e., ElonGate).

  10. NYNY*

    Years ago, I was on a proposal to get work. The client said he used to work for our firm, he gave two weeks notice, and was told leave on Friday. He still resented it.

    1. Emily*

      Yeah, people remember that stuff. Whatever momentary feeling the supervisor is getting from it, it’s really not worth it.

    2. Generic Name*

      Yup. Twelve years later, I still mention that my last company declined to let me work out my notice period. It definitely raises eyebrows since that’s not typical in my industry.

  11. just a random teacher*

    I’m assuming that it doesn’t apply in this case, but I always like to caution people to check their specific situations before assuming that they can quit on the spot with only reputational consequences.

    In my field and state (k-12 teaching), this is certainly not the case, and I could lose my license for quitting without notice and would have a very difficult time getting another job in education even if I kept my license. (I have to give 60 days notice unless the district chooses to release me sooner, but they also can’t fire me without an equally obnoxious and prolonged process. Such is life with actual employment contracts in a field with required licensure.)

    I know that my specific field is deeply weird about employment norms (it’s not surprising for someone to have 3 months notice of being fired during which time they’re still working, since unless you’re the “…and that just made the news” kind of fired they’d prefer you to finish out the year so they don’t have to find a sub), but I also worry about things being stated as a universal truth when they’re true for typical office jobs but not all kinds of employment.

    1. Artemesia*

      Teachers are not walked either unless there is some sort of scandal. And yes norms are that you give notice well in advance and that you always at least complete the semester.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Teachers have strong unions.

        Most of us DON’T have that protection.

        1. Dinwar*

          The extended notice period, at least where I live, was an attempt to minimize the power of those unions. They were an intentional and deliberate attempt to diminish mobility, since teachers are always in demand. And most of the firings I’ve seen have been between school years, meaning there was no one to walk out of the building. Not so much because of unions, but because it’s easier to justify at that time. Used to be new teachers were fired every year than re-hired, as a ploy to avoid giving them tenure, but they changed the laws a while back to stop that garbage. Makes for very stressful summers for the first few years.

          1. Bruce*

            I remember when my sons’ younger teachers were getting pink slips every spring and then some of them would get their jobs back before the fall… but some of the brightest did not get rehired and moved out of the field. Used to really be upsetting!

        2. Double A*

          We also have employment contracts even if we’re non-union. Every job I’ve applied for has asked if you’ve ever left before your contract was up.

    2. LW*

      Thank you for pointing this out! Barbara is not in such a field, but it’s definitely good to remember.

  12. Busy Middle Manager*

    I agree with everyone here but want to clarify it, I keep seeing cases like this posted online and then people chiming in “this is why I never would give notice, things need to be a two way street.” Seems to be a trend. The problem is, only the egregious cases get posted online. It actually is a two-way street at many if not most places. There are a quiet majority of people working while having given their notices and everything is fine. In fact, at my last two jobs, notice was extended by a few people, including extra consulting hours. So know your company and situation. You’d look absolutely unhinged and ridiculous quitting with no notice at three of my past four jobs.

    1. LW*

      I wasn’t the first to leave — before I did, (I am running out of names) Talia left. She gave a month+ as notice period, but started it off by announcing to everyone how much she hated me. Which made the fact that I was taking on a lot of her duties not the most fun, for the next month.

      I did give two weeks and it was totally fine — Bruce was a little upset I didn’t give longer but I was able talk him into reasonableness. Dick gave two weeks with no problem. It wasn’t until Jason that Bruce got upset about it. (I have a lot of theories about why but it doesn’t help the discussion). Barbara is the first person to leave since Jason. I am interested to find out what goes down when she turns in her resignation — I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t something we hadn’t considered which might hurt her.

      1. LW*

        Which is to say: unless the boss has specifically said they’re going to be rude about two weeks notice/ there’s a trend of it, I think it’s still best policy to give two weeks as you said.

      2. Good Enough For Government Work*

        *helpfully* You also have Steph, Cass, Damian, Carrie, Kate, Duke, Alfred, and Selena

          1. LW*

            I was trying to find someone before Dick, ideally female, which was my issue — hence going with Talia, but yeah for after there is a whole host! Lol

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          D’oh… I’m usually pretty quick to catch the pop culture references but now BATMAN eluded me?!

          I’d better make sure I didn’t make decaf.

    2. Tacos are Life*

      I had to extend notice at my last job because I was too sick to come in and return my computer and process my paperwork. HR essentially told me I could pick whatever date I wanted as my last day.

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      I don’t think I’d go as far as “unhinged” but I agree that at normal, functioning companies it’s still good to give notice. And if you’ve been there a while you’ve presumably seen how people who gave their notice are treated. I worked for a company where I saw people that left were always treated well and with respect and more than one even ended up coming back–when I decided to leave I wanted to make sure the door would be open if I wanted to return as well! I actually gave an extra week of notice because I knew I was leaving at a particularly bad time so I wanted to make sure we could plan for it well. I was confident there was 0% chance they would ask me to leave early not only because I’d seen people leave smoothly in the past but also because they very much needed me to wrap things up and transition assignments smoothly. I also made sure to put together a lot of very clear documentation on my way out.

      I’m very glad I put in all that effort to leave on good terms, because I did in fact end up returning to the company less than a year later!

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        Yup my word choice was a little much. I guess my job isn’t that small but has “family” vibes so it would either raise red flags if someone quit right away, or be similar to your best friend or family member disappearing.

  13. Coverage Associate*

    Could not giving 2 weeks notice only hurt the friend if the current boss is involved in hiring her again?

    My boss resigned giving only 6 days notice, and the 6 days he chose seemed to have been chosen to leave special messes behind. I have been telling people in our industry, not to gossip, but to explain why I am looking for a new job and why I don’t want to work for him again. He’s senior to me, so I probably won’t be involved in hiring him, but he might want to work at a firm I have told the story to, and I would never know if they took my story into account.

    I guess it’s unlikely that a prospective employer would take the story of a junior former applicant over a promising candidate, but I am learning industries can be smaller than they seem.

  14. Tacos are Life*

    Is this an Industry where people tend to know each other and word gets around? If it is, then I would advise Barbara to give two weeks notice as usual. Word probably has gotten around about Bruce, but you really wanna make sure you’re in the situation’s that you are firmly NTA. Bruce might be a glass bowl, but Barbara should be making sure that Bruce is the only glass bowl and that she doesn’t move it to an ESH by quitting with no notice.

    Barbara should also consider that she is not just resigning to Bruce, she is resigning to the entire company. Other managers and higher-ups will take note that she quit without notice. It is possible that a future job will just call HR to confirm employment dates or they will attempt to call Bruce when he may have moved on and end up speaking to somebody else. Then they will find out that she quit without notice.

    It’s Barbara gets walked out the same day that she gives notice, she will be eligible to receive unemployment, although she should know what her state unemployment rules are. Some states have a waiting period before they pay benefits.

    If Barbara really feels like quitting without notice is living her best life, then she should do that. I would advise her to wait all those factors while she makes her decision.

    1. LW*

      These are reasonable points. It is a close industry, But most of the industry is well aware of who Bruce is at this point. I got a ton of compliments about “how much happier” I looked when I ran into people at a gathering after I left, for example. I would not expect this to negatively impact Barbara’s future except work people who are of a similar mindset to Brice in the industry (of which, of course, there are still a handful). I don’t anticipate changing Barbara’s mind but this is good to consider. Thank you.

    2. Anonymous Admin*

      I see LW already noted that word is out on Bruce. I know “being professional” for a lot of people means never bad-mouthing the boss, but some people suck and letting the world know is a noble service.

  15. kiki*

    If Barbara didn’t have LW as a reference, I think leaving with less notice might be a pretty big mistake because there’s a chance she may one day need Bruce as a reference. But it sounds like LW is a perfect reference and I think any reasonable employer would understand why an employee wouldn’t give notice in Barbara’s situation.

    I honestly think it’s really good for Bob to have this experience with an employee leaving with no notice because of what he said. I think he let power go to his head. It’s important for him to understand that he does not actually have all the power here and that his actions have consequences.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      I have my doubts that Bob would have been a good reference even if Barbara gave 2 weeks notice.
      He could very easily be one of those “you betrayed me by leaving” kind of managers.

  16. Snarky McSnarkerson*

    This almost happened to me once. Very young, I worked in an office that had a shop attached. Readers, the office managers (yes, there were two) would count out the number of envelopes and record how many they gave me. In an AP department.

    I gave 2 weeks notice and they had to discuss for like 3 hours. I got called back into their cube and was told they wanted today to be my last day. As if I cared what they wanted. So I said, fine, but I still expect to be paid for the 2 weeks. They looked at each other and said they had to discuss again. I wish I had an eye roll emoji! I worked the 2 weeks.

  17. Adalind*

    This same thing happened at a company my sister used to work for. She had seen every person be let go before the end of the 2 week notice period and didn’t want to get bit. So when she got a job offer she started slowly collecting her things so she could tell them the last possible second. I want to say she let them know while she was out on a scheduled vacation (or maybe when she got back?) but I’m not positive. haha

  18. Falling Diphthong*

    It never fails to astonish me when employers are like “What are they gonna do, quit?” to people who have quit.

    (See also retail managers who refuse to take the departing employee off the schedule because they need someone to do the late shift on Saturday, by golly.)

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Or worse – “accidentally on purpose” forget to take someone’s name off of the on-call for problems list.

  19. LW*

    Hello, OP/LW (she/her) here:

    I wanted to thank everyone for the thoughtful comments. I will admit, despite almost coming up on my one year anniversary of leaving the job working under Bruce, I’m still dealing with a lot of trauma from the experience and still handling some guilt from having left everyone without me as a shield. I think some of that anxiety/concern came through in the letter. I’m am beyond glad that Dick, Jason, and soon Barbara will get out — I am still worried about a few (Tim and Steph) who are left behind. Anyways, I think the whole thing is fairly straightforward but I am here if you have questions.

    Cheers, LW (Alfred? Female Alfred? Idk)

    1. Champagne Cocktail*

      It sounded quite straightforward to me, and I’m glad you’re away from there.

      I’ve also had jobs that have given me trauma responses. My nightmares went away after a while. I hope yours do too.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      You can’t, and shouldn’t, prop up a falling down pier indefinitely. You showed the way off which is all you can do

  20. Sara without an H*

    Hi, LW — It sounds as though you were the Bruce-Whisperer for your company. Now that you’re gone, turnover is picking up. You may have been a bigger buffer for the staff than you realize.

    I agree with Alison that this situation is unlikely to bite Barbara in the future. She has a plausible explanation for not giving advance notice, based on norms created by the company itself.

    My only advice for Barbara would be to meet quietly with her own direct reports (if any) and brief them before she goes. She should share any information they’ll need while her position is vacant, as well as giving them her contact information, with assurances that she’ll provide references for them if needed.

    But I can’t fault Barbara for handling her exit this way. You don’t need to change your references for her, and Bruce has only himself to blame.

    1. LW*

      Hey Sara without an H,

      I tried. I failed a lot. I anticipated a lot of people leaving after me because I was fairly sure (given what they still had to deal with) they didn’t understand how much I had managed to shield them from. (Which was definitely not all of it because I’m not a super hero, but I took a lot of really long meetings to talk some of the more dramatic things down).

      I believe Barbara is already planning to do this but I will double check — and probably encourage her to have them consider how to do their own two weeks (although I also anticipate them getting another long lecture/meeting about two weeks notice after this).

      I have no intention of changing my references and am legitimately really glad she’s escaping. There was joyful yelling when she told me she got the job! (I’ll worry about those left behind but hopefully they’ll get out soon too.)

      1. Sara without an H*

        It sounds as though you did as much as you could, and more than a lot of people would have attempted.

        I’ve seen organizations go through meltdowns like this before. (I recently retired from higher ed.) The ones with any get-up-&-go get up and leave. The people left behind are the ones you really wished would move on, but never do. And senior leadership remains clueless.

        Hey, you tried your best, Jedi hugs, and congratulate Barbara for us.

        1. LW*

          Thank you — and yeah, I’ll definitely let her know! (Bruce is senior leadership, so in this case I think he’s glad about who’s left behind because they’re less likely to question him.)

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Ouch. Sometimes those left behind hate job hunting, can’t afford to lose seniority & the accompanying flexibility, or have some other reason to want to stay where they are that you just don’t know about.

    2. Zarniwoop*

      Barbara meeting with her reports risks crazyboss finding out she’s leaving before she wants to tell. By allowing those left behind to more effectively do their jobs it somewhat insulates crazyboss from the consequences of his behavior.

      No longer your circus, no longer your clowns, let it all fall down. The only truly useful thing you can do for those left behind is help them escape too.

  21. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    I am not a laywer, but….

    If you give a two-week notice in most industries, if the employer tells you to go now, he/she/they either – have to pay you for the two week period **OR** they will be responsible for the two-week unemployment claim you might file.

    As a result, they’ll pay it out. The firing manager doesn’t want to be called into his superiors’ offices (and human resources) and defending what he/she/they did, because an unemployment claim shock wave will rattle through HR.

    Also – be wary of any management stunts pulled to avoid paying earned bonuses or commissions. I won’t describe some of the failed tricks on those that I saw in my 50 working years. They came back to bite management in the (body part named for a horse-like mammal!)

    1. LW*

      Unfortunately Bruce is the highest on the food chain, and HR is not good. (I am not HR but took on a lot of HR duties, such as pointing out things we couldn’t do because they were illegal in our state.) the person now acting as HR would be someone more likely to assume Bruce is right rather than look it up.

      But I might reach out to Jason and see if he wanted to consider trying to get paid for the two days he lost to this event. (My understanding is that he didn’t get paid for the last two days, although I could be wrong.)

  22. Susannah*

    If you give 2 weeks notice and they effectively fire you before that.. aren’t you eligible for unemployment insurance? I for one would apply just to be Bruce’s headache.

    1. Czhorat*

      Except that there’s a waiting period (one week? Two?) for unemployment insurance. Since Barbara would already be working before then, there’s really no point.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        That’s not quite accurate at least for all states. When we have had one-week furloughs you bet we applied for one-week unemployment. The waiting period means our %pay comes a week later than it would have–but money doesn’t expire.

  23. Champagne Cocktail*

    “I didn’t offer a notice period because the employer had recently started having people leave before the end of their notice and I couldn’t afford to lose the pay for that time.

    Absolutely valid, and cheers to Barbara.

  24. Drowning in Spreadsheets*

    If you look in the job seeker communities, you can hear horror stories from people who have accepted jobs, signed offer letters, given notice, then told some variation of “your services are no longer required.”

    Most of them weren’t allowed back at their old jobs. Another reason not to give notice until the last minute.

      1. MsM*

        Yeah, I don’t see Damian’s methods of helping Bruce face reality resulting in a managerial role.

    1. Lainey L. L-C*

      LOL I just noticed that! I feel like it’s definitely Tim, Damian’s letter would involve more drama.

    2. Silver Robin*

      It took this comment thread for me to realize why the names seemed to go together so well and I *just* finished watching the Animated Series. Derp

    3. LW*

      To be fair, despite being younger than Bruce and female, I was absolutely seeing myself as Alfred. But I’ll take Tim!

        1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          Help a sister out? I absolutely do not recognize these names. (I do own a television, I swear!)

          1. LW*

            Bruce is Batman, Dick and Jason were Robins , Barbara was Batgirl (Tim and Damian were also Robins) — a lot of these characters have multiple identities but that’s the short version: Batman character names

            1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

              Thank you so much! I hail from the age of POW! and BIFF! so didn’t recognize a lot of the Robin names.

                1. redflagday701*

                  And if you’ve watched the Animated Series and enjoy comedically graphic violence, queerness, and top-shelf writing, you should check out the animated Harley Quinn series on Max too.

      1. LW*

        She, but I could sometimes. Not all the time, but I kept us from violating a lot of laws. So there’s that.

        1. V*

          Oh sorry, when I said he I was referring to Tim. I don’t doubt your account of being able to make your boss see reason!

          1. LW*

            I mean, I couldn’t all the time! That was a big part of the problem, lol — but yes. Absolutely Tim thinks that! You’re right! (Thanks for clarifying.)

  25. Good Enough For Government Work*

    I’m just hear to applaud the theme naming.

    Of COURSE Jason was the one who had to ‘leave’ unexpectedly early…

  26. TootsNYC*

    total side note:


    Bruce is right that two weeks notice is a courtesy — it’s a courtesy from the employee.

    …made me think of the revelation I had, as an etiquette columnist, about the whole “which fork to use” thing.

    Knowing which fork to use is a requirement for the host, not for the guest. The guest is just supposed to grab whichever one is easiest to get to (ie, the one on the outside). Making sure the right forks are provided, and they are positioned appropriately on the table, is the responsibility of the host.

  27. Squirrel Brain*

    My old job did this. Granted, it was a small business run by a couple with more money than sense and several substance addictions. When I left (changed industries, moved several hours away), they let me go the minute HR heard I’d be submitting my notice. No PTO payout, no COBRA, they tried to mess with my UI claim, and I’m going to have to fight them for my 401k transfer. But they also screwed themselves out of 6+ figures because of some projects I was scheduled to wrap during my notice period. Industry contacts tell me the company is basically blackballed in their primary market and several of their big customers are working on suing them for failure to deliver, so karma is definitely hitting them hard.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      COBRA is federal. Were they under 20 employees? Because not following a federal requirement is a big deal. I don’t know any co that covers COBRA costs for departing employees except as part of a layoff package.

      1. Squirrel Brain*

        I say small, but they had at least 100 employees. Unless something changed recently, I’m used to the employer sending out COBRA paperwork or at least an explanation how to access it after employment ends. The whole experience was absolutely surreal in retrospect and I’m just glad to say I survived it with some marketable skills.

      2. Squirrel Brain*

        (Reply 2 of 2)

        it should perhaps be noted that ownership regularly skirted all levels of government, federal to county, on just about everything you can think of. GAAP, IRS (commingling assets), OSHA, labor law, signed contracts, building code, structural engineering, driver rest hours… it messed with moral compasses and a lot of people picked up toxic habits while there.

  28. Not Iron Man*

    I know of a corporation with thousands of employees with a company policy that anyone who gives notice of intent to quit automatically loses all paid sick leave (meaning that if you’re sick during your notice period, you just don’t get paid that day). The result is that employees generally don’t give any notice and they have to scramble to maintain staffing levels. Management doesn’t understand why this is a problem.

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