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Thursday, August 19, 2010

update about the boss who's angry over two weeks notice

Yesterday I printed a letter from someone whose boss was angry that she had only given two weeks notice and was pushing her to give at least a month. Because her boss had always been a jerk, I advised her that she should hold firm and stick to her original plan. She's now written back with this update:

Thanks so much for answering my question yesterday. Your advice and that of the commenters was invaluable. I have a follow up question, though, that I'd be very grateful to get your perspective on.

So, after I said I couldn't extend my notice past two weeks, the situation has now gotten to the point where I would label it abusive. Just this morning, my actions -- which I've done my absolute best to keep courteous and professional -- have been called "unprofessional," "a betrayal," and "an insult." My manager sat me down and berated me and even insulted me personally for 15 minutes, then copied me on a very nasty email to the head of the office and another manager here. I was also copied on the reply from the other manager, who called my actions "odd" and "hostile."

I have done nothing more than give my two weeks notice -- which at this company is seen as a betrayal apparently -- but that is all I have done. I'm now contemplating leaving even earlier though, as the work environment has really gotten hostile.

I am not due to get my final paycheck until the end of the month (we are paid monthly, so if I leave today, I still have 19 days pay owed to me). What is the likelihood that I would receive this paycheck at all if I left today? I'd like to walk out today, especially if it gets worse, but I need that final paycheck to tide me over until my new job starts in September. For those of you with experience in this, do you think they'd withhold that check at this point? I can't really afford a legal battle, so if that's a possibility, I just have to stick this out until I have it in hand...

As I said in the comments yesterday, unless they become outright abusive, you should work out the full two weeks because it's the professional thing to do, even if they themselves aren't professional. Additionally, you don't want them to be able to tell people in the future that you "didn't even give two weeks."

However. The caveat there was "unless they become outright abusive." 

You have three options at this point:

#1. Tolerate it. Suck it up and deal with it, knowing that it's only two weeks, and knowing that you're about to escape this forever, so who cares how crazy they become? This option gives you peace of mind about your paycheck. It also ensures, as someone pointed out in the comments yesterday, that the worst they can say about you in a reference check is that you "only gave two weeks notice" (unless they're willing to lie, which of course they might be). 

If you take this option, look at their craziness as entertainment and fantastic future stories.

#2. Leave now. Tell your boss, "Your treatment of me since I gave notice is unprofessional and hostile. I'm not willing to be subjected to that, so today will be my last day." Be prepared to leave immediately, as their reaction will probably require it. (This means have your stuff all packed up, personal stuff removed from your computer, etc.)

#3. A middle ground. Sit down with your boss and say, "I'm sorry you're upset with my two weeks notice. Two weeks is a very common professional standard. However, it's clear that you're upset with me. Is it still fine for me to be in the office for the next two weeks, or would it better for everyone if I were to leave now?"

She will probably rant at you about how of course you need to be there for the next two weeks. At that point, say, "I'd like to work the remaining two weeks and I don't want to leave anyone in the lurch. However, I need to be treated professionally during that time. I very much want to use the next two weeks to put my projects in order, write up documentation to leave behind, and so forth, but I do have a bottom line as far as respectful treatment. I'm not willing to continue to be berated for my decision. If we can't work together without the hostility, it would be better for everyone if I left now."

If the hostility continues, then you revert to option #2. (And be prepared for her to explode with hostility and tell you to get out immediately.)

Now, as for your paycheck, the law is very clear that they need to pay you for the days you've worked. But that doesn't mean that they will, of course. I recommend checking out wage laws for your state, because some of them require that a final paycheck be issued within 24 hours or other short periods, and if that's the case in your state, you can follow up with them about your check right away, rather than having to wait and see how they handle payroll at the end of the month. There are also fines for violating those laws, so if they have any sense at all, they'll conclude it's not worth the hassle to them. (Email me and let me know what state you're in, and I'll walk you through how to research this and how to approach them about it.)

In the future, I'd plan to warn reference-checkers that these people imploded when you gave notice. A good reference-checker will understand -- and hopefully by that point you'll have plenty of references from sane people at the new job you're about to start.


Kerry Scott said...

I had this same experience about 10 years ago. It sucked. I'm getting angry just remembering it, and like I said, it's been 10 years.

I would bet that they're going to ask you to leave before the end of the two weeks. In my experience, this is better than walking out, because you still get to tell people you gave two weeks notice, and they look like jerks, not you. That will help later when you're explaining to future reference-checkers.

Also, in most states, if they let you go early, you can get unemployment for the interim period. If you leave, you don't get it. So you want them to pull the trigger, not you.

Sometimes you can get through these things by seeing the humor in them. Watching these people turn batpoop crazy and make fools of themselves can actually be a little satisfying...and trust me, all of the sane people know who the sucky ones are, so none of the batpoop is going to stick to you if you keep your cool.

Anonymous said...

If they give you any problems with your paycheck generally a "i will call the labor board", or whoever it is you might call, email or phone call will result in a paycheck. They don't want the legal battle either. This worked for me once.

Good luck with everything. I once had a boss tell me, after I gave my notice, with all sincerity that I would be working until a certain date and then I would be allowed to move on to my next job. Laughable considering how poorly he'd treated me over the years.

Anonymous said...

Wow. What complete lunatics. From experience, I would definitely go with option 3. My former boss flipped her lid and started announcing to anyone who would listen how terrible I was for leaving. After learning about this from other staff and being present for it once, I immediately sat down with our GM and said that I had been professional and expected the same treatment.

Luckily, he recognized the issue and spoke with my boss. Doesn't sound like there's anyone sane at your place of work... but still. Document what you can, leave as politely as you can and find a good way to phrase it to future employers. I've found people to be understanding in general.

Waldo said...

Pack your things now. Take everything that you can live without at work (and/or don't need) home with you. Right now. Take it out to your car.

If you have a voice recorder, start keeping it in hand.

You haven't said, but if there is someone filling a HR role in the company (even if it's just an Office Manager-type), file a complaint to get it on record.

I'm not a lawyer, but in many states the screaming can be considered Assault. Check the definition in your local area. Assault does not involve touching in the United States (that is Battery.) Assault in most of the US is the threat of violence and can be a physical or emotional attack.

Now have that talk with your boss as others have recommended. The "there's no need to scream at me talk."

Finally, I recommend the next time that a tirade begins, pick up your phone and call 911.

I'm sure that some people are going to disagree with me, but this is where you take the high ground. Make no mistake: bridges are already burned, but there is no reason for this behavior.


Anna D'Aurio said...

Yikes. I have a feeling that the employee's supervisor will only continue to be abusive for the remaining two weeks. Talking to her rationally doesn't seem to be an option - I don't think her boss would be receptive to that at all.

I would advise packing her stuff and leaving now. Worst case scenario: they give her a hard time about her last paycheck and deny her unemployment, should she file for it.

Anonymous said...

You need to be a little bit stronger about your personal boundaries too. My sister works with a raging boss, and she simply stands up, says something like "yelling/abuse is not acceptable", and leaves. She usually comes back after an hour or two and nothing is ever said (but the boss calms down).

If anything happens from this second forward that you don't like, make sure all your stuff is gone and get up and leave. Send an email asap that you would be happy to return and do the transition, but you WILL NOT accept abusive and unprofessional behavior. Also, make sure you forward those crazy emails to your personal email (although be careful to respect non-disclosure agreements) even if its just for your sanity.

As for the pay, they might try to pull a stunt whether you leave now or not. So don't worry about it in regards to your welfare.

Anonymous said...

Agree with the other advice here, but do NOT call 911. That's over the top, will make you look silly and will take important emergency-responder resources away from people who might really need them.

Kerry Scott said...

It what states would screaming be considered assault?

It seems to me that would be a state with very full jails.

Jamie said...

AAM gave great advice - not sure I would have been professional enough to attempt option A, though. I would have walked at the first personal insult. You tried to do the professional thing, but no one should be subjected to that.

They are the ones leaving your co-workers in the lurch, not you. You tried for a smooth transition and they wouldn't allow it.

As I said in the comments yesterday - your (soon to be former) co-workers have much bigger problems in that office than any lack of documentation you didn't have time to create.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick note to support Kerry Scott’s comment. I would have said the same thing. Don’t walk away, let them pull the trigger – this course of action will has its benefits, make a list of them and see if this will work for you.

Anonymous said...

I didn't read your original post - but, if you live in an at will employment state - it simply means that you or your boss have the right to say I quit or you're fired without any reason or any notification.

If you are told to leave earlier than your notification date - you may try to collect unemployment, but your employer has the right to contest it.

Unless you have a warrant - any information you record is not admissable in a court of law. Instead begin collecting any email correspondence from this crazy person and get in touch with a lawyer - not the labor board - who handles these types of harrassment cases.

If your company has an employee manual find it and know your rights within the organization.

Lastly - if you need the money then stay, but let this person know that you WILL NOT tolerate their behavior; then be prepare to back that statement up with, "I've spoken with my attorney and this is what he/she has advised me to do."

Anonymous said...

I have a better idea. When they start their bitchin' think about what a good decision you made and smile. Don't say anything just smile. This will really push their buttons and they'll flip out. No matter what they say keep smiling. If they ask tell them how excited you are about your new job. It would look too stupid for them to do anything to you for smiling, but I bet they'll get so pissed they'll ask you to leave.

CK said...

Hi everyone,

This is the original poster again. Thanks for all the advice. For the moment I am going to sit tight and be firm with my boss about how I will permit her to speak to me, but if things continue to get worse, I'll try some of these other courses of action.

I really appreciate all your input and help!

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry that you are forced to deal with such a stressful and unprofessional work environment. The same thing happened to me when I was young too. I remember how tough it was to deal with. Rest assured that you will get through this with new wisdom a great story to tell. I was worried it would harm my career but it never did. All senior professionals have been through a tough work environment at one point or another and so they understand. Just be honest about the situation with future employers. Don't be angry, just state the facts. They will appreciate your candor. As for your situation as it stands today, my advice would be to stand firm with dignity an allow them to sink deeper into their own mud. Other people will take notice and will remember how you remained professional. That will serve you well in the future.

Leslie said...

Hey CK, just wanted to show some support. I was in this exact same position when I resigned from my first job out of college. I did exactly what you're doing right now, and to me it was a defining moment my fledgling career. I know who I am as a professional, and I know that I will never put an employee in that position should I ever become a manager one day. Good luck!!!

Gottanewjob said...

One word...micro cassette recorder.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I *am* a lawyer and I will say a few things:

1) If they don't pay you, contact a local employment lawyer in your state. In my state we have strict wage laws; in other states, not so much. You can also probably find a state wage-enforcement division which will have a good website. The question "can they withhold my pay?" is a very basic one and is simply to answer based on only a few facts.

2) Almost none of the legal advice in this comment thread is entirely correct; some of it is precisely the opposite of what the law is; and some of it could actually expose YOU to liability*. If you want good legal advice, hire a local lawyer in your state.

*For example: in some states it is a criminal offense to record someone without their explicit knowledge and/or consent. "Get a recorder!" comments aside, you should know what you're doing.

Anonymous said...

What's the deal with these employers? I too recently had a situation where my decision to resign was called a "betrayal" and I wasn't allowed to work in the office during my notice period because I was a "risk". Do they honestly expect people to never, ever change jobs? What happened when _they_ took the job they now occupy; was that a betrayal of their former employer? Gotta love the double standard.

Anonymous said...

I totally understand this- I've been dealing with it for almost 3 months now, 4 more weeks to go!

I'm in a senior position, and my contract says I must give at least 2 months notice. I gave more because of circumstance- the ceo was fleeing the country after putting the company in massive debt (thanks to working overseas she was allowed to just pack up her business class ticket and skeedaddle). The manager she left behind is just as crazy, abusive, and yelling as she was- I really shouldn't have been surprised they didn't take my resigning well. When the CEO was preparing to leave, they were asking all of us if we planned to renew our contracts- Mine's up in October, and I told them no.

At the time, both she and my manager called me 'unethical', disloyal, lacking in character, and said they couldn't give me a reference (which I didn't ask for) because they'd have to lie ( moments before they;d been trying to sweet talk me into signing a new contract because I was 'such a great worker'). My CEO even tried to guilt me, saying someone had to stay and keep her company going!

So it sucks. And it's continued to suck, as for months I've had coworkers and my manager making pissy comments and treating me with a lack of respect. It's going to get worse in two weeks when the replacement i found for myself arrives, and I have to train her while they yell, berate, and generally make me want to cry in the bathroom every day. But the point is, it IS possible to get through all that. My sweet revenge? They have since offered me two pay bumps to stay- I've turned them down. And they're freaking out as they realize how much work I'm leaving behind that they'll have to pick up.

As for the reference and the future? They've taken to talking smack about me all over town, however, I've simply tried to remain as professional as possible- and it's hard to argue with proper notice, finding a replacement, etc etc. Everyone knows the deal, and I'm going to have to find a creative way to keep them off my reference check, but it will all work out.

So stick in there- in the end, no matter what they say, you will be the better person!