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A co-worker I had regular dealings with was recently dismissed from the company. I suspect it was due to performance ratings as my employer dismisses the bottom x % each year based on performance rankings and this process was just concluded - although I don't know this for sure.

I like this former co-worker. She was very kind and always willing to help me out.

I want to reach out on LinkedIn and wish her well given that the company don't provide any notice before the dismissal, so she was already gone by the time I found out.

Is it inappropriate to reach out?

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Neo
    Nov 20 '20 at 17:51
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Is it inappropriate to reach out?

No, not if reaching out means: Connecting on LinkedIn and sending a message to wish them well. That is perfectly acceptable.

I suspect it was due to performance... company don't provide any notice before the dismissal

Don't assume anything in your message to this person. The only thing you know is, they are no longer working at the company.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – DarkCygnus
    Nov 21 '20 at 2:12
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Is it inappropriate to reach out?

I feel it's perfectly OK to reach out and wish her good luck and the best in her future endeavors.

As always, try to keep your message professional, avoid badmouthing your company, and don't assume the reason why she is no longer there.

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You should absolutely send message to them on LinkedIn to tell them that you enjoyed working with them and you'd like to keep in touch. That is entirely appropriate.

They may respond with more details if they need professional contacts, ie where they want to go next and if they want a recommendation from you.

They may also respond with rants and horror stories about the company you work for. Be the good ear but unless they describe crimes, just give them space to release frustration. Don't pry for details. Keep the ball in their court when it comes to gossip.

The best outcome is they may have moved on to bigger, better things, and be in a position to help you out.

However they respond, you stay calm, professional and helpful.

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    Just be aware, if the OP engages with rants or horror stories they could be risking their job. Most companies have non-disparagement clauses.
    – flexi
    Nov 20 '20 at 17:06
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    Such clauses have no power in private gossip. This ain’t double good plus plus here.
    – morbo
    Nov 21 '20 at 9:35
  • @morbo Depends where you are in the world. Much of the USA still lets people get fired for anything at any time.
    – Tim B
    Nov 21 '20 at 15:56
  • @TimB ‘at will’ employment does not regulate private conversations. Don’t confuse the power a company has over one with possibly damaging speaking which becomes public, and private conversations and thinking, the former may have contractual or legal ramifications...the later has nothing. There is a small but important distinction.
    – morbo
    Nov 21 '20 at 18:28
  • @TimB with that said, if the OP does engage in email gossip and that gets out somehow, there could definitely be problems...this is however their own fault for not taking proper precautions....not writing damning things in emails that can easily be posted or sent to others for example...
    – morbo
    Nov 21 '20 at 18:30
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The purpose of LinkedIn is a platform where you cultivate and maintain relationships with individuals in your professional "network." As a former colleague, one you seem to have a good relationship with, reaching out like this is not only completely appropriate, it seems like it's pretty much in keeping with the entire reason that platform exists, in the first place.

As others have noted, be careful about not using a professional platform to "dish dirt" in any way that could impact your own professional image.

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  • Point of order, the purpose of LinkedIn is for LinkedIn to monetize your personal data. Any benefit of networking is purely coincidental.
    – Shadur
    Nov 22 '20 at 20:01
  • @Shadur - That may be the company's function in offering the service, but for the end users, that's not why they sign up for it. So, yeah, I get your general message about how the evil overlords operate, but that's kind of a silly "point of order" because no one who signs up as a user does so thinking "hey, I will sign up for this because I want these guys to monetize my data." Nov 23 '20 at 17:19
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Is it inappropriate to reach out?

Who you socialize with is usually* none of your employer's business, at least so long as you leave your employer's business out of it. So reach out on LinkedIn or even go out for a meal or a drink if you want, just be sure to avoid talking about work, coworkers, etc.

*There are exceptions, e.g. if your work requires a security clearance, but you probably wouldn't be asking here if you fell into one of those categories.

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Is it inappropriate to reach out?

It really depends on the circumstances surrounding it. At my last job we had an coworker who was terminated suddenly. It caused a lot of issues in our department and the manager immediately sent out an email on how to proceed. He mentioned that we should only contact him outside of work and cannot do so while on company's time.

I would think this advice applies universally. If you do reach out, be sure to do it outside of work. And while Linkedin is a great way to connect, I would advise using a private message or phone instead of posting publicly. This way no one can see the conversation outside of you and this prior co-worker.

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