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My resignation has been high profile. I did not send emails or anything, but word spread quickly and I am having people approaching me on a daily basis telling me that they just resigned, they are planning to resign, or they are interviewing. These are all unique roles like myself and by next month the company will effectively be crippled. This is only the immediate network. My manager has become increasingly aggressive and micromanaging since I resigned and I am afraid that he could try to blame me/make me a 'bad leaver' because of this. The situation is heavy and I am staying mainly for the reference.

My question is: Can a company create a case where they blame an employee for follow-up resignations?

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What do you mean by create a case? in many country's giving a bad or incorrect reference makes the employer liable for some serious legal penaltys – Pepone Feb 19 at 1:49
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Could you clarify why... you give a ****? This question confuses me because I can't imagine why you're asking or what the reason for this question is. – HopelessN00b Feb 19 at 3:34
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@HopelessN00b The reason for "giving a s**t" is many fold: References, word of mouth, friendships, etc... – WernerCD Feb 19 at 4:36
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@WernerCD I still don't understand. You have friends who would blame you for getting a better job (or just leaving one you don't like)? The word used to describe such people is not "friend." Regarding references, it is standard not to use a current employer as a reference, because you don't tell your current employer you're quitting until you have an offer from someone else. (This isn't possible if people call your current employer to ask for a reference regarding hiring you, of course.) And word of mouth... ??? People are going to say you left a previous job?!?! Isn't that... um, a resume/CV? – HopelessN00b Feb 19 at 5:03
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@HopelessN00b My point is more that there are plenty of reasons to care about what people think when you leave. From caring about friends to worrying about if it's your fault that a company is now falling apart. – WernerCD Feb 19 at 5:16
up vote 24 down vote accepted

My question is: can a company create a case where they blame an employee for follow-up resignations?

It's not at all uncommon for a company to blame current problems on "that guy/gal who used to work here". If it happens, it happens, and there's little you can do about it. So yes, your manager could make a case where they blame you for other resignations.

But, let's be realistic. It's exceedingly unlikely that others are resigning because of you. Almost certainly there have been resignations before you gave yours, and there will be others going forward. One person is seldom the trigger of a mass-exodus, and when it does happen, it's usually a top-level manager, and not a specialist like you.

It's normal that folks are talking to you about their dissatisfaction with the company. They know you are leaving, have probably asked why, and you are probably throwing off vibes.

As to your boss micro-managing you, that too is a natural reaction. In other questions, you indicated your unhappiness for quite a while. I believe you even indicated your desire to leave immediately, without a notice period. Once you gave your notice, it's normal that they would try to manage your remaining time there closely, so as to get what they can get before you check out physically or mentally.

It might feel that way, but this isn't so much about you. Try not to obsess. Just finish out your notice period, leave, and put this company in your past.

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6  
The first thing I learned in Evil Henchman school was: always blame the dead guy. tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DeceasedFallGuyGambit – Hello World 123 Feb 19 at 22:38
    
If you're a contractor, "scapegoat" is in the job description – Richard U Feb 23 at 14:35

Can you be blamed?

Quite bluntly, yes.

Does it matter?

Apart from an uncomfortable notice period, it doesn't matter a damn.

If the company is haemorrhaging staff like this, it indicates a serious mismanagement issue. You were just unlucky to be the first to resign - but it could have been anyone else that triggered this.

Can a company create a case where they blame an employee for follow-up resignations?

Again, yes. Again, it doesn't really matter. About the only real impact for you will be that you should seriously consider using someone not in the organisations management for your reference. Perhaps one of the other staff that is leaving.

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41  
It's also worth noting that a lot of people will say that they're going to resign or going to start interviewing, and then don't. If I look at the last role I left, many more people told me that they were about to leave than have actually done so. – nadyne Feb 19 at 1:46
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Slightly more expanded: one can be blamed for anything. That simply means that person A is assigning responsibility of fault to B. It doesn't mean that B actually was at fault, merely that A perceived it as such. A competent hiring manager will see right through the blame and make a hiring decision based on actual merit. – phyrfox Feb 19 at 5:52
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Can you be blamed? Yes, absolutely. Are you doing anything blameworthy or unprofessional by resigning? No – teambob Feb 19 at 6:55
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Exactly, I can blame you for stealing my purple leprechaun. Can they legally/rightfully blame you? No! – Falco Feb 19 at 10:32
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@Falco Damn straight, you can't blame him for stealing your purple leprechaun. It was never yours in the first place. It is my purple leprechaun. You stole it from me. – HopelessN00b Feb 19 at 11:27

...I am afraid that he could try to blame me/make me a 'bad leaver' because of this. The situation is heavy, and I am staying mainly for the reference.

At this point, you're unlikely to get much of a reference beyond "Monoandale worked here between dates X and Y," if even that. If you've set an end date, the professional thing to do would be to honor it unless they do something really egregious. You do have the advantage of having a bunch of like-minded colleagues who would probably make excellent references.

It's always nice to leave on good terms, but that's not always possible and definitely doesn't seem to be likely here. Your relationship with your employers is one of business, and if you don't feel that what you get in exchange for working there is worth it, you make a business decision and move on to something that is. Your employer can blame you for the assassination of Abraham Lincoln if it suits them, but the reality is that it doesn't matter. You've secured a new position and there's no need to lose sleep over whatever horrible things they might say after you're gone.

The cluster of departures your company is about to suffer is unfortunate, but part of running a successful business is retaining key employees. Your company's apparent inability to do that is their failing, not yours.

If you're asking if they can make some sort of legal case, that would be very unlikely unless you're working under a contract with very unusual terms. If your employment is at-will, you and your co-workers can resign at any time for any reason. If the company doesn't like it, the industry term for that is "tough nuts."

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It happened to me before!

To answer your question

Can I be blamed for people leaving?

Short answer: No, but the management might blame you. Overall, it doesn't matter because sooner or later they might forget it. It's just that they can't move on and still dwelling in that situation, which means that chances are it indicates a serious mismanagement issue.

My resignation has been high profile. I did not send emails or anything, but word spread quickly and I am having people approaching me on a daily basis telling me that they just resigned, they are planning to resign, or they are interviewing.

This is exactly the same thing that I've considered during that time, due to the fact that they smell that you are leaving a good chance is they also want to leave that company it's just that you are lucky to be the first one. If other person triggered it, same thing will happen.

Can a company create a case where they blame an employee for follow-up resignations?

Yes, chances are they will give you a negative review.

Solution: Just reference another employee, the one that you trust and the one who really knows the real situation.

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Ohhh, seems like you've been going places. – Bryan Posas Feb 19 at 9:29
    
@BryanPosas :D Yeah. Nowadays it's difficult to find a good company, one who cares about their employees. :) – Cary Bondoc Feb 19 at 23:39
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@CaryBondoc - Precisely this. At this stage, the most important thing to do is to touch base with a senior manager that still likes you in order to act as your referee in future. Relying on the company is a no-no. – Richard Feb 20 at 10:47
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I doubt you'll find that kind of company, it's either you use them as stepping stone or they use you for their profits. Usually it's the managers who can show care for the employees, so I guess that's the closest you will find. – Bryan Posas Feb 21 at 3:38
    
Yeah, you have a point in that. Thanks Bryan. :) – Cary Bondoc Feb 21 at 4:46

A mass exodus from one group/department/area is almost always blamed on the manager. It looks really bad on them. But so long as you act professionally, serve out your notice period, and were in good standing before your notice, then the company is not going to give you a bad reference.

Your manager might blame you but that is really just them trying to shift blame off of themselves. As I said it looks really bad and I have seen several times where the turnover of a team ends up with a manager being either demoted either actually or effectively. I have even seen a few managers terminated. I have also seen management close ranks and blame the team and replace all of the team. Either way it is unlikely to be blamed on you in a way that will have any impact on your future.

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That's what happened the one time I've seen this - the manager who got mad at me, was blamed for the departures and let go a month later. – stannius Feb 19 at 17:06

They can blame you, but they will look very very bad if they do, and in many countries, it is legally actionable.

Be honest about having resigned and be prepared for questions as to why.

If I were in the position of interviewing you, and I knew you had resigned, I would disregard any information coming from your former company. I've dealt with spiteful ex-employers myself, as has just about anyone. If you resigned to take another position, then even more so.

That said:

I don't mean to be insulting, but no single person leaving/resigning/getting fired, et cetera, can bring down an entire company. If apple can survive losing Steve Jobs twice, any company can survive losing key people.

Any time anyone of prominence in a company resigns, there are what I call "uh oh" resignations. It's not your resignation per-se that's triggering people to leave, but people can tell when things at the company are not going well. The people leaving after you are doing so because they may see your leaving as confirmation of what they already knew: Something is not right at the company.

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Apple has employees in the six figures, and a bus number above 10. My employer has two employees and a bus number of one. – Alexander Feb 20 at 2:41

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