Author Topic: Should I sign a form allowing my boss to fire me? Failing business....  (Read 6389 times)

hhehe45

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I am expected to sign a form on Monday that has new rules outlined for my position. Basically, it says if I donít meet these standards by a certain time frame (which I wonít, theyíre not attainable) that I will be let go. Would it be best to sign and just look for another job in the meantime, or refuse to sign it so I am not held liable for anything? Legally I donít know if they can fire me if I donít sign. It doesnít state any of these requirements in my original contract.
Apparently Iím not the only one having to sign it. And there have also been 3 people who were let go in the past few months. My fear is that we are having to close soon and all the burden is being placed on the remaining employees. Iím obviously looking for another job regardless. I just want to know my rights so I donít end up signing something I shouldnít have. Thanks for any input you have.

CoffeeR

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What are the labor laws in your state? Is this a right-to-work state?

doneby35

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Since it's an at will employment state, your employer can terminate your employment at any time, with or with no reason, whether you sign something or not, unless you have been discriminated against or your termination is in violation of a written contract.
What else does the form say? Have you talked to your boss explaining that whatever is being asked for is not feasible?

markbike528CBX

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One thought was that the employer is trying to get out of unemployment insurance (UI) obligations. Then I wondered why.  I had thought that the employer paid UI up front, but apparently there are circumstances
http://www.twc.state.tx.us/news/efte/how_ui_claims_affect_employers.html (random Google)
where employers pay more for layoffs/ involuntary separations and sometimes firings.

Unless this is an honest Performance Improvement Plan ( my snift test says no, but I've only heard your side) I'd be loath to sign.

as Doneby35 says, at least question the feasibility.

COEE

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In an at-will state the employer can terminate your employment at any time unless there is a contract in place stating something of the opposite.

I'd be finding out what the unemployment benefits are in your state.  I'd work hard to not jeopardize those benefits.  I'd also refuse to sign anything while the company is failing.  If they want to let you go - fine.  Chances are that those in charge of the company are being greedy.  Is there anything in this contract for you?  Can you afford to tell them to pound sand?

I am not a lawyer, but an employment lawyer could be your best friend right now - but will cost some money.

COEE

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From what you've said I'd refuse to sign any contract... when they lay you off / fire you (which will likely be their next step), I'd immediately contact the unemployment office.

This smells of them trying to get out of unemployment to me.  They know their a sinking ship.  Who's to say you will see any money from any future sales?  Companies will do some messed-up things that are illegal - or borderline illegal when they know they are sinking (ask me how I know :\ ).  Cut bait.

I'm sorry you're in this situation - I hope you didn't give up a lot to take this job.

Are you in TX?

Cpa Cat

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To me, it sounds like your employer is trying to create a "with cause" firing situation, where you've agreed to part ways if you don't meet performance goals. In my state, your signature on a paper like this would likely give the employer cause to challenge any unemployment insurance claim.

Yes, employers pay UI up front, but their UI rate will go up if they have claims. So in order to protect a low UI rate, some employers will try to challenge every claim.

Undecided

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To me, it sounds like your employer is trying to create a "with cause" firing situation, where you've agreed to part ways if you don't meet performance goals. In my state, your signature on a paper like this would likely give the employer cause to challenge any unemployment insurance claim.

Yes, employers pay UI up front, but their UI rate will go up if they have claims. So in order to protect a low UI rate, some employers will try to challenge every claim.

It also may exempt the termination from any warning requirements that may otherwise apply under the federal WARN Act, depending on how big the employer is and how many people it may terminate.

FINate

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Yep, I agree with the others that this smells of trying to avoid unemployment claims and/or WARN notifications. They may also be attempting to avoid age discrimination cases.

I would talk with an employment attorney ASAP and/or your state labor board.

I would not sign a contract for something I knew was unfeasible. First and foremost for the principle of it. But also to protect unemployment benefits.

And remember, the harder they push and threaten for you to sign, the more this indicates how much they want it because they will benefit from it. Even in employment-at-will states it's generally frowned upon to fire without cause (hence trying to force you to agree to a unrealistic contract). A judge is not going to look kindly on their "cause" being that you wouldn't agree to their unrealistic requirements and will see that there was some other pretext.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2018, 11:21:56 AM by FINate »

BTDretire

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I agree on them trying to avoid paying unemplyement.
  I would make sure to hang on to a copy of that contract
and any records you can show of how their demands are unrealistic
compared to previous quarters. Even for the other employees.

FINate

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Well, companies need to be able to lay people off to respond to business conditions... scary but normal and necessary. However, they should do an above the board RIF and pay severance and set it up so employees can easily get unemployment. You know, actually care about their people and try their best to help them even though they are forced to RIF. That's what ethical companies do rather than the douchebaggery you're dealing with.

FINate

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More money is usually code for older workers. If the 40 and over crowd is disproportionately affected then they are setting themselves up for an age discrimination suite. From https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/age.cfm:

Quote
An employment policy or practice that applies to everyone, regardless of age, can be illegal if it has a negative impact on applicants or employees age 40 or older and is not based on a reasonable factor other than age (RFOA).

MrThatsDifferent

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Imagine Iím saying to this to you in Liam Neesonís voice from Taken: Now, this the tough partóyouíre getting fired. Itís coming, any day now. So, prepare. Curb your spending, organize your money and get ready for it. Copy all your files from work, get evidence of your successes and permanently delete your emails.  Accelerate your job search. Donít sign that paper, it wonít matter, but theyíll probably fire you sooner. Tell them, Iíve consulted an employment lawyer who has advised against signing this. Let them know, I work hard for this company and will continue to help you grow, but this paper youíve given me isnít the way. They will fire you. It wonít matter, youíre prepared for everything. Survive.


BlueMR2

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If I were in that situation, that's one I would refuse to sign.  I'd expect to go out the door soon either way, with no upside to signing.  Whenever asked to sign something, I always ask, what's my consideration and is it worthwhile?  The answer so far has been no in most cases (but there have been a couple exceptions).

LAGuy

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I'm pretty sure they can only deny your employment benefits for "cause". Fighting, stealing, faking time cards, that sort of thing. Simply being a "bad salesperson", based on their realistic or BS criteria, won't cut it. However, they could fire you for insubordination possibly should you refuse to sign. That would fall under cause. I think you pretty much have to sign, but do document that your signature only indicates receipt of the document. They probably won't like that, but about all you can do is shrug and say you'll do your best to meet their requirements but you believe that they're setting you up to fail. Beyond that I wouldn't do much more than try to shine them on while you milk it/look for a new job. But whatever you do don't tell your employer "no" unless you're being asked to do something unethical as that will probably get you immediately terminated. Either way, I agree that they're looking to ship you out.

FINate

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Those links bring up some very good points. Thanks for passing that along! It seems like the difference with my situation is it's not so much a performance review of things I've done wrong. As far as I know all of us are getting the same exact form to sign. I mean it's definitely placing blame on the employees for lack of revenue, no fault on management at all. But it's mostly new procedures I have to abide by. I admit some are not completely unreasonable, but some are AND nearly triple my workload. It's like someone telling you to run a two minute mile. There is no way I'll be able to uphold my end of this if I sign so to me it's pointless to sign.
I like the idea of signing "under duress" if I feel forced. I'm still a bit wobbly on whether or not to sign at all though. Maybe I should sign "to indicate receipt only" and immediately have them make me a copy. What do you all think? Those articles have me thinking differently about it now.

Seems like a reasonable hedge. If you don't have the form in your possession now, then I would write "to indicate receipt only" first, then sign, then snap a phone with my phone. Maybe I'm paranoid :)

BlueHouse

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I would be very pleasant, smile, and say "sure, sure....I'm just going to have my attorney look this over, okay?" 

And then use that to stall for time.  Say you have an appointment set up for two weeks away...then reschedule.. and on and on. 


Dicey

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^^Great advice.^^

Reynolds531

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I'd have a goal of one well written job application submitted every day until you get hired somewhere else. And network all you can. Do any of the people they let go have a new job? Start there.

Catbert

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I'm pretty sure they can only deny your employment benefits for "cause". Fighting, stealing, faking time cards, that sort of thing. Simply being a "bad salesperson", based on their realistic or BS criteria, won't cut it. However, they could fire you for insubordination possibly should you refuse to sign. That would fall under cause. I think you pretty much have to sign, but do document that your signature only indicates receipt of the document. They probably won't like that, but about all you can do is shrug and say you'll do your best to meet their requirements but you believe that they're setting you up to fail. Beyond that I wouldn't do much more than try to shine them on while you milk it/look for a new job. But whatever you do don't tell your employer "no" unless you're being asked to do something unethical as that will probably get you immediately terminated. Either way, I agree that they're looking to ship you out.

Certainly in California the bolded portion is true, however, I'm not sure it's the case in all states.

Roadrunner53

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My Mother worked for a company for over 23 years. Just minutes before she was leaving for vacation, they told her when she returned she would move to the third shift. She was the first shift supervisor. The guy on the 3rd shift was coming on first shift. Mom knew the acting plant manager and the 3rd shift manager were cronies and that was the only reason she was getting the shaft. She went on vacation and was so bummed out about it all. Here the woman was about 55 years old and never had one bad review. She kept them hanging for weeks about her return to work and she kept telling them she was on vacation. She would call every Friday and say she was on vacation the following week. She had tons of time built up. She finally said she wouldn't be back. She applied for unemployment and she heard thru the grapevine they were all hee hawing that she thought she would get unemployment. WELL, she did! She got 26 weeks worth. The unemployment office set up a hearing but no representative from the company appeared. Mom told the agents at unemployment what had happened and they were livid she was subjected to such foul play. She also had a lawsuit but it didn't pan out. At that time my Father had just had a stroke and she no longer wanted to spend any more money. She did get a call from some Federal agency and they said they would help her but she declined. Those two guys were such losers and couldn't do the job Mom did and both got fired eventually. KARMA! What a shame these rotten things happen to good people!

Roadrunner53

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I don't think I would sign that paper like some of the others have said. If they decide to fire you for it, so be it. Seems like a horrible atmosphere anyway and you will most likely get unemployment. If you sign that thing, it might prevent you from collecting. Make sure you keep a copy so if you get canned you can present it to unemployment and tell them you felt like you were in an intolerable working situation. Seems if you sign it or not you will eventually lose your job. I have never heard of such a document but I am not am expert either. I do like the idea another poster said to string them along with seeking an attorney for advice. Keep telling them your appointment was postponed due to the attorney's court schedule. LOL! Screw your employer!

What those bastards did to my Mother was criminal. She was one of the hardest working people you could have ever meet. She had her nose to the grindstone every single day. These two jerks played video games and figured they could have play dates every day once the third shift guy got on first shift. They must have thought my Mother did nothing because the workers did their jobs and production was accomplished every day. They didn't know that Mom knew how to trouble shoot issues with the machines and how to deal with the workers. She was a miracle worker and they killed the golden goose. They got theirs...and got kicked to the curb and thrown into the sewer where they belonged.

chasesfish

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To the original poster - You keep referencing "original agreement".  Do you have an employment contract or not?

If no employment contract and in a right to work state, just get another job.  The headache isn't worth it.  We're in the best employment market in the last 18 years, especially for those with a college degree.

pecunia

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Wow!  All of this is a reminder of one of the biggest euphemisms out there, "Right to Work."

I guess this post is a reason most of those on this site are trying to get FU money.

Good luck with the next job and remember this kind of stuff when you go and vote.  People who work ought to have "some" rights.

COEE

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...remember this kind of stuff when you go and vote.  People who work ought to have "some" rights.

[rant on]
"Rights" are a joke in the country.  Many people are abused every day in the job force regardless of "rights".  It doesn't matter who you vote for.

I had a company lay me off last year and try to hire me on as a contractor doing the same job.  Obviously a breach of misclassification under the law in my state.  I ended up refusing the contract job, and just claiming unemployment without any issues.  There was really nothing I could do about their attempt to misclassify me because I was never misclassified.  I did consult an attorney - he said I would have to actually work as a misclassified employee before suing the company - and then they'd probably only be liable for paying me the difference in pay and have heft fines to pay the state.

A few people did take the contract gig - they must have not been in a position to tell the boss to f-off like I was.  Were they going to sue a company that was failing to force them to give them a few more bucks (all the while damaging their reputation for the next job by suing their current employer)?  No.  Were they going to file a complaint with the Labor Board (again possibly damaging their reputation for the next job)?  No.  I thought about filing a complaint with the Labor Board on behalf of my former coworkers, but decided against it since I don't know my former coworkers situation and figured they could do it if they were upset about it.  I figured they were just happy to have money coming in.

Three months later the company was sold for pennies on the dollar (from what I'm told - grapevine sort of stuff) and everyone lost their jobs.

Anyway - all of this to say - that despite having "rights" there are FAR too many complications that let companies get away with this shit.  I suspect companies with venture capital (VC) do this shit ALL OF THE TIME.  The VC's know the game, they know the emotions, they know what people will do when pushed against the wall, and they want to save every penny they can - despite the laws.
[rant off]

Anyway, @hhehe45 - Obviously I feel your pain.  I'm intrigued to know what happens tomorrow, but I totally understand if you don't want to say much more about it.  Emotions are high.  Try to keep your cool.  Good luck.

gooki

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One thing not mentioned, is changing the form to state what you believe is reasonable signing and handing that back to them.

Tuskalusa

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If the form has unattainable goals, and you know they are unrealistic, then I donít think you should sign anything that requires you to meet them in a specific time period. I wouldnít even sign receipt of the form, since that would show you were aware of the expectations.

Do you have a proposal for more realistic goals?  Can you create a counter-proposal. At the very least, this slows down the process while you start looking for another job. Or management goes and picks on someone else. The process sounds shady, for sure.

BigHaus89

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I would be very pleasant, smile, and say "sure, sure....I'm just going to have my attorney look this over, okay?" 

And then use that to stall for time.  Say you have an appointment set up for two weeks away...then reschedule.. and on and on.

+1 more to dragging your feet. I wouldn't sign something that is not achievable/reasonable. Keep looking for another job and don't sign the paper. What are they going to do? Fire you?

ooommm

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Re: Should I sign a form allowing my boss to fire me? Failing business....
« Reply #29 on: April 03, 2018, 03:45:12 PM »
Don't have to sign shit. If you're certain you're going to get fired it sounds like this person is trying to get you to sign something that they can use to about the unemployment claim.

Call their bluff. Make them fire you now, or resign. Doesn't sound like they are going to give you a reference, which puts you in the position of needing to choose what is right for you. Its pretty clear, regardless of their motivations, that they don't have your best interests as a member of the team at heart. They're panicking.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2018, 05:53:22 PM by ooommm »

RyanAtTanagra

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It sounds like you're considering signing it because then at least you'll have a job (and a paycheck) for longer, even though you're forgoing the ability to collect unemployment later.  So it's your call, but personally I'd rather get unemployment now rather than work for a shady company that strong-arms it's employees like that.

Roadrunner53

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RyanAtTangra, I agree 100%!

BlueMR2

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One thing not mentioned, is changing the form to state what you believe is reasonable signing and handing that back to them.

I've tried that before, boy did that cause a ruckus!  :-)  Ultimately I think it just made the company lawyers angry at me, which didn't help me any...

markbike528CBX

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hhehe45 (OP), please update us! We're intensely curious on the outcome, and more importantly for us :-). who's advice did you use?

COEE

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Thanks for the update... I've been wondering about you.

I wouldn't resign - not without another job lined up.  I'd make them get rid of me so that you have a chance at unemployment to help pad your stash - you don't know where the next job will be - or more importantly - when.

Roadrunner53

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I would hang in there and let them fire me.  Like COEE said, so you can collect unemployment and keep as much of your stache as possible. Start looking for a new job now.

I worked at this place one time and there was this guy who was in charge/manager of everything. He was the go to guy and had his finger in everything. He was a really great guy too. WELL, sometime down the road he must have had a falling out with the boss/owner of the company. The boss/owner was a tyrant and would change his mind on things 50 times a day. I am sure this had something to do with it. ANYWAY, all of a sudden this manager was removed from all the projects. I really don't even know what he was working on. He was given an office in no mans land in the building. No one worked in that wing. He came to work every day and if you did pass by his office he seemed to be working but no idea on what. So many, many months go by and he finally gave his notice. He went to some other company. This was really too bad since his talents were wasted and the tyrant always had to have his way.

This guy was an engineer, very smart and was in his early 50's. He had been in the industry for probably 25 years. Great personality too.

So if this guy could hang in there, so can you! It is beyond degrading what this guy had to endure, but he had a steady paycheck and was able to laugh all the way to the bank!

ender

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I was told I did not have to sign anything, that my job was not on the line. But this was after I told them I basically wasnít going to... but I donít think this is over because Iím supposed to have a formal meeting with my boss on Friday. They told me the form was simply listing our new goals and revamp plan and not a contract that meant Iíd be chucked if I didnít meet those standards. They did try to twist my arm a bit (what if we took out this statement or that statement?). But it all sounds fishy.

I WAS thinking of the best way to buy some time (but not signing the form) because it looks like Iíll have to make a pretty big move for another job. What Iíd really like to do at this point is resign and put it behind me. I have about $20k in savings right not but it hurts to think of using that. I have morals and donít believe in jerking people around like they want me to. But morals donít pay the bills.

I would still make sure you keep track of all this communication.

If the company tries to get you to quit (rather than firing you) that's really a bad situation for them to be in, check out what "constructive dismissal" laws look like for your locale.

Roadrunner53

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Yes, agree with other poster. Start a hard copy file of this thing they want you to sign and document any verbal communication (time, date, who you spoke with, what the conversation was about, who said what, witnesses, conclusion) and any emails. Print them out and put them in a hard copy file. I got laid off from my last job. Went to HR and they presented my package to go. I had around 30 days to sign it. So went back to my desk to collect my personal belongings. These slimy bastards shut down my computer before I got back to my desk. I had a few pictures I wanted to print off before I left but NOOOO, I was locked out. That was a slap in the face and I really resented it. Like I could find all the company's secrets and print them off in an hours time. I am not that kind of person and if that is what they thought of me, glad I no longer work there.

Get everything off your computer now if there is anything you need. You many not get a chance when the time comes. Glad the stuff I wanted to print wasn't something like evidence.

Sorry you are going thru this turmoil. We all have our war stories. Glad to share if it helps another warrior.