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I was "fired" (their words) right before my last scheduled day, and I don't understand why.

This happened a while ago, but lately it has been really bugging me. I was hoping that someone might have some experiential knowledge about what might have been going on. Forgive me if some of this is "story like", it is the only way I know to explain the situation.

I was working at a big-box portrait studio. I was moving and had put in my notice. We had sorted my final schedule. Right before my last scheduled day, the manager calls me up and says that "they will not be needing my service anymore". I thought she was just saying that they overbooked photographers that day.

I was short on cash, and was really counting on the day's wages, so I asked a favor. "Can I please come in, I really was counting on the hours."

Her stern reply was "No, you're being fired, we won't need your serviced anymore."

This completely blew me away. I was upset, and even brought the district manager into the conversation trying to get an explanation. Their line was "why do you care, you only had one more day?"

I'm a project manager now-a-days and in hindsight I really can't understand their actions. It seems unprofessional and needlessly cruel.

Not that it matters, but I was their best sales performer and had been the most uptight about the register and inventory always being exactly right. I had recently turned down a manager position because I knew I was moving shortly.

I understand that for security reasons a company might unexpectedly ask you not to come in. I've done that, but I also paid them for the work time they lost.

Does anyone have any idea why any company would "fire" someone right before their last day? Was it some type of bookkeeping bureaucracy? In hindsight, I'm so confused and wish I had made a bigger fuss.

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    Any answer will have to be speculative because we certainly don't know what's in your manager's head. 1. They could be lashing out at you for leaving; 2. The manager may be frustrated at something else and you may be at the receiving end of her displaced aggression; 3. They may be trying to get out of paying unemployment benefits by claiming they fired you. Bottom line: you know these people and what makes them tick better than we do. Bottom line: we don't know because we have no way of finding what's on their mind. – Vietnhi Phuvan Apr 7 '15 at 14:04
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    If this happened in the US, an employer has the right to let you go at any time during your notice period. But being fired isn't usually what happens. They say "We have covered your remaining shifts and no longer need you. Thanks for the time here." – Brian Apr 7 '15 at 14:39
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    I have worked at one company where when you turned in your notice you were escorted out by security (especially employees with access to sensitive information). Depending on the terms you left under they may or may not pay you for the remaining 2 weeks. – RubberChickenLeader Apr 7 '15 at 17:39
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    If this is in the U.S., it is actually to your advantage that they fired you instead of you leaving on the day you said, because then you qualify for unemployment benefits (since the termination of employment was caused by the company) which you wouldn't get if you left on your own terms. – user102008 Apr 8 '15 at 17:46
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    You cannot draw benefits if you quit for no good reason but you can if you get fired for that. You should have asked him how he felt about you filing unemployment and if he would contest. I know this is a late answer, but I think he was trying to help you inadvertently. – Muze the good Troll. Apr 22 at 18:56
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It is probably one of the following:

  • dealing with a middle manager who wants to act like they control everything (when it is obvious they don't). So now when someone asks, "Why did Dan quit?" Which would seem like Dan quit because the job or management was lacking, well now they get to say, "Dan didn't quit, he was fired." It is your manager puffing out his/her chest.

  • they found a new employee. That employee could work your shift. That employee wanted to start so they scooted you out.

  • they did not want to deal with you doing something stupid in your last few days. I have managed a lot of people (never fired anyone after they put in their two weeks) and I have never let anyone work until their last day. At best we have an employee making their rounds talking to everyone all day and making everyone else less productive. Even "good" employees that leave tend to do a lot of gossiping, a lot of griping, a lot of recruitment and so on their last couple weeks. I would gauge how much of this was going on, make one remark to the employee, and the next issue they were gone.

In my area you have a hard time claiming unemployment when you quit. The easiest thing to do with a manger who reacts like this is claim unemployment because their actions, help with the claim.

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    Doing something stupid in the last few days would be counterproductive. They'd cheat themselves of the possibility of coming back to you and the possibility of getting references from you. Whenever I gave my two-week notice, my work load would double because they had me tie every single loose end that they could think of. – Vietnhi Phuvan Apr 7 '15 at 15:04
  • @VietnhiPhuvan - Where you working at a portrait studio at the time or a cashier, or like job? Yes if he turned in his two weeks now as a PM, what you say is possibly true but for those jobs that can be filled/trained in a day, doubt it. – blankip Apr 7 '15 at 15:07
  • FWIW I've had several co-workers who left on good terms with the company working hard up until their mid-afternoon exit interview and final departure. X's spouse had to move for work, and my employer failed to win a contract that would've let X continue working remotely for the company. Y wasn't actively looking for a new job, but a friend made an offer out of the blue that was too good to refuse. – Dan Neely Apr 8 '15 at 4:59
  • My employer has always treated voluntary departures well. I've known several other people who gave and worked extended notices (either full time, or tapered using progressively more leave as the hand off continued); but I didn't work closely enough with any of them to asses how productive their final day was. – Dan Neely Apr 8 '15 at 5:02
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    @VietnhiPhuvan people are stupid, they do stupid things. – Bill Leeper May 18 '17 at 14:24
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I wouldn't read too much into this or look for reasons. Resignation causes the relationship to change with an employer, and sometimes they just want you gone.

Don't think of it as being fired, they just chose not to hold you to your notice, quite common in the circumstances. Just be glad your eyes were opened to them and move on.

3

This type of question opens the door to a lot of speculation, so i'll speculate.

Did you get everything you were owed? Do you know that for sure? It is possible that working one more day would have qualified you for some bonus or other benefit. I was recently let go (not fired) and will miss out on over $7k in 401k vesting by 2 months. Would resigning have resulted in a payout of accrued vacation or sick days whereas firing would not (unlikely actually).

It could also be a paperwork issue, but that seems unlikely since a firing would seem to involve more paperwork not less. You wouldn't have qualified for unemployment any differently either since you turned in notice and wouldn't have been eligible anyway, unless the manager was mis-informed.

Firing doesn't make sense given that your reason for leaving was that you were moving. Everyone probably already knew this too, further making the firing look bad. You weren't going to poach employees or clients since again, you were moving, not starting your own studio or something.

Lastly, to stick with the hidden benefit theory, it actually is worse for the manger to say you were fired instead of letting you resign. The firing would have soured his relationship with other staff a lot more than having a qualified employee leave.

  • Re: vesting. You should not lose vesting status unless you pull close the account before the vesting date. As long as the account is active, I believe you should be counting days. YMMV and all that, but definitely look into terms of your account. – blaughw Apr 7 '15 at 23:04
  • By vesting I meant that after 3 years I would have gotten full match on my 401k. Since I was two months short of my 3 year service date I only got 50%. So unless I end up working for that company again at some point in the future it is effectively lost money. I was able to move the vested amount out of my 401k into my IRA though. – Bill Leeper Apr 9 '15 at 1:02
  • He may be able to get unemployment anyway, depending on local law and the local employment commission. Texas Employment Commission, for example, used to take a very dim view of shenanigans like this, and they were quite fond of hiking unemployment insurance rates for employers found to be playing cute games. – John R. Strohm Apr 23 at 20:30

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