A friend of mine was recently laid off from a contracting gig. It was made clear from the beginning when he was first offered the role that it was a "high risk" position in the sense that both the role and the project itself were on shaky ground and there was a high chance that the engagement might not last for more than a few months. He weighed his options and decided to give the role a try anyway (The long term rewards if the project did work out were worth it).
Last week (after 4 months) it was decided that they would not continue with him (which he was sort of expecting since the project hadn't been doing well), but they didn't give him a few days notice or even a few hours notice. Instead the person he reported to and an HR rep just walked up to his desk and asked him to leave on the spot, the didn't even let him touch his laptop. They did say that his dismissal had nothing to do with his performance or anything, he was doing his job well, but the company had changed strategy.
So why couldn't they be nice about it? Even when people are laid off or dismissed for performance reasons, they are at least given to the end of the day to leave.
Being asked to get out there and then and being escorted out like that made look like he had done something wrong when in fact the dismissal had nothing to do with his performance.
To make things worse, he works in a highly specialized field with only a small number of companies in his city. People would have noticed the abrupt departure and rumors are bound to spread that something bad had occurred, thus negatively effecting his future career prospects.
Is there anything he do about this? How can he repair the damage to his reputation? Is there anything he can ask for from his ex-employer to mitigate this?