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Our team is very much understaffed. We have slowly started to bring new people in, ostensibly to ease the sometimes impossible workload we face.

A coworker was fired right before a team meeting. The reasoning given to her was that she had too many attendance violations. But she was one who always did overtime and made up any lost hours. My manager didn't mention anything at all about the termination or even made any general statements about things he expects from us to help avoid her fate. (He could have done this without identifying her and without letting anyone know that someone had been fired.)

I only knew of her termination because she told me. I understand that business is politics, and I'll probably never know what really happened.

Still, I have seen my team suffer from several resignations. I got promised that help is incoming to manage the workload, and the last thing I thought I would see is people starting to get fired. I am curious. I want to know what my company is up to.

I also want to know if I, too, should fear for my own job being lost. Why would a business fire people for attendance when we're at a time when we need all the help we can get? Why not fire her after we get out of this peak season that we're in?

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    What do you expect to accomplish asking the manager?
    – Kilisi
    Aug 28 '20 at 11:11
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    A plausible explanation sometimes is the simple arrogance of the management.
    – Steve
    Aug 28 '20 at 12:01
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    @Steve another one is that the official reason isn't the reason. Sorry, seen too much in this lifetime to always blame management. Aug 28 '20 at 14:21
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You can ask your manager. But the way of doing so has to consider several issues:

  • Make sure the manager can save face. Do not ask them like an accusation, and not in front of other people.

  • Do not directly ask for information that would cause legal trouble if your manager told you. Don't ask "Was the real reason for her to be fired these rumors I heard about stealing?". Do ask "The thing about attendance seems surprising. Can I assume there a more complicated situation that I don't want to know about?" (or something similar - you will be better at phrasing this depending on your local and legal culture.)

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It's generally not wise to make inquiries to anyone's firing.

There are always two reasons, the official, and the actual reason.

"Attendance" is a generic reason, and it is rarely used for high performers. If you're the top producer, and come in 20 minutes late every day, you may get a stern talking to or two, maybe even an official write-up, but not fired.

If you must approach your manager, do it in a way of concern about your own position.

Use your own words, but something to the effect of

Hey boss. I'm really concerned after Mary was fired. I know this is a rough time, so I want to make sure that my performance is good. Do you think I should be concerned?

If your boss is brief and says something to the effect of "Well, I don't think you have to worry", then your coworker was fired for something other than the official reason, and they don't want to talk about it.

What I would do, as a defensive measure, get your resume up to date, and float it out there to see how in demand you are, then decide if you want to stay with your present company or move on.

Either way, keep your options open and prepare for the worst.

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    Even better than "I want to make sure that my performance is good" would be " I want to make sure that my team is not in danger of being fired". Said properly, this conveys the subtext "There's no sense in building up a team if you're gonna arbitrarily decimate it." Aug 28 '20 at 14:40
  • @A.I.Breveleri Which is why i said "use your own words" Aug 28 '20 at 15:23

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