The Layoffs Hit Home

My aunt got laid off today from the business she worked at for 38 years.

There was no warning. She went to work as usual and then got called into a supervisor's office and told in a pretty cold and matter-of-fact manner that her job had been eliminated. Her responsibilities were folded into another person's job. They even had the nerve to ask my aunt if she'd help train this person. Yes, she refused. My aunt said the woman who fired her acted shocked when she told her she was immediately going home.

38 years and... poof. Just like that. It's trifling because you know they could've told her eons ago that it might happen. They could have pulled her aside and given her a little bit of warning that the layoff might come. But no, I guess that would be the decent thing to do.

My aunt is hoping she can take an early retirement because, although life isn't over for her, realistically, there aren't a lot of options for her due to her age. Most businesses aren't trying to hire a black, female 60 year-old and pay them what their experience demands.

I was talking to my sister about how hard it is to prove that you've been let go because of your age (or race or gender). That higher salary due to your experience can certainly be seen as a liability in a time of cost-cutting. People are so focused on the bottom line that they're thinking they could probably hire two brand-new young people to do the job for less than what they were paying my aunt. Seniority and experience are valued until you have to pay an employee with 38 years under their belt more money.

And, of course, sometimes new employees can be easier to "get over" on. A veteran employee has been around the block a few times and knows the history because they've been there. A manager can't just tell them anything and everything and expect a veteran employee to believe them and blindly follow directions without challenging a decision or asking tough questions.

Yes, these layoffs are certainly hitting us all. I hope my aunt can take the early retirement. If she can't, what happens to her now?


My company cuts people left & right with no rhyme or reason. They'll let go a good employee and keep a dirtbag. They hemorrhage employees in key spots while do-nothings make a career out of it.

Locally, one company let 400 people go last week. My wife's company let go 50% of their employees, and then their parent company let go 140 people last Friday.

Unfortunately, it's rampant and it's everywhere...
Anonymous said…
It's hitting our area hard, too. And right before the holidays, which is especially sad. I sure hope Obama can get the economy back on track.
Nerd Girl said…
I'll keep your aunt - and the rest of the folks being laid off left and right - in my prayers. Not to get all religious, but the last thing I heard before I got out of my car this morning was the admonition to remember that God is always working in my favor. If I didn't believe that, I don't think I'd be able to get out of bed in the morning. Please keep us posted on your aunt's situation.
thailandchani said…
That is terrible! I am just appalled. Yet they get away with impugnity as though they have no responsibility at all.

Ugh! The whole thing makes me sick!

I hope your aunt is able to take early retirement, too. I'm close to her age and I can't even imagine the horror of trying to find a job in this climate - and at this age.

Anonymous said…
You know God works in mysterious ways and hopefully she will be fine.
BZ said…
Hey lady. I hope everything works out in your aunt's favor. My cousin got laid off from DHL and had been with them for 10 years. *hugs*
Jameil said…
i hope she can take it, too. SO glad your aunt refused to help train. that is ridiculous.
Mes Deux Cents said…

I'm sorry to hear of your aunt’s lay-off. Companies are pretty ruthless when it comes to ending someone’s employment and there are people who refuse to be trifled with like that.

Have you heard about the guy here in the Bay area that just this past week was laid-off and went back and shot his boss and two others? They just caught him over the weekend. Taking someone’s livelihood can lead to very serious situations.

Here is the link to the story:
Well hopefully she'll have a retirement package. What about unemployment and maybe getting a lower level position with a more viable company? I mean it's really rough right now. I'm competing against people with MBAs for Executive Asst jobs.
Anonymous said…
Unfortunately in the current dire economic situation, nobody is immune from arbitrary sackings, be they old, middle-aged or young. Panicking companies just chop the first people who come to mind, anyone they think is inessential to the business. The people I really blame are the bankers whose utterly reckless behaviour caused this whole economic mess and has shafted so many previously healthy businesses.

But it must be a terrible experience for your aunt, suddenly getting the push after so long. I've been made redundant twice myself, and it's hard to deal with.
Jessalyn said…
Ugh, I'm so sorry to hear that. I hope your aunt is able to get early retirement.
Liz Dwyer said…
Is your wife's job alright? I remember seeing the unemployment numbers last month and the number of people who lost a job in October was insane. It is all over the place, that's for sure.

This is an incredibly hard time to get laid off. And with winter and gas bills coming. I sure hope this can be turned around by the next administration. I worry it's gonna get worse before it gets better though.

Nerd Girl,
Go on ahead and be religious! You don't have to apologize for that ever. I know what you mean about needing that prayer to get you going and keep you going. Without that inspiration, there's too much to weigh your spirit down.

Seriously, I can't even imagine how hard it would be to find a job at that age. It sometimes seems like folks just want to hire 25 year-olds who have no other life, no kids, no spouse/partner, nothing to "distract" them from putting in long hours.

She sounded ok when I talked to her. Mad, but ok. No tears, that's for sure. It could be the best thing to happen to her.

It is definitely going around. I was so shocked when I heard about DHL. I actually like them WAY better than UPS!

You know! I'm sure some people might think that training your replacement is taking the higher road, but for real, that's just a slap in the face to even ask.

Yes, I heard about that! I hope more of those sorts of incidences don't happen, but I wouldn't be surprised if they do. It's just terrible though. Really is.

Folks with MBAs looking for exec. asst. positions? Wowzer. With all the people citigroup is laying off, and all the other financial houses, I'm sure there has to be a whole lot of that. You just get in where you fit in so you have some income coming in. Sigh.

The bankers were the executors of all the greedy ideas, that's for sure. I wonder if, with all the cuts that are going on, if the executives where she worked will still get the same salary and if any of them will get axed. We're seeing the extremes of wealth and poverty and rampant materialism playing out. After all this, how can anyone believe that what they do doesn't affect anybody else. What happens to one impacts the other eventually.

I hope she can as well. I have to give her a call this weekend to see what develops.
Sundry said…
So sorry to hear this! My sister just lost her job, too. For political reasons, so she is fighting it. It's so hard to find a decent job that has you using your brain in Indiana. She may head for an MFA.
Shiona said…
Oh man, these cuts are hitting everyone hard. Your aunt and all of the others affected by layoffs will be in my thoughts. It does look like it'll get worse before it gets better.

I never even thought about the whole race, gender or age issues, but there really is no way to tell.
Jen said…
I am so, so sorry to hear about your aunt and her mistreatment. I think it's happening to many more experienced workers, though, because they can have younger folks "do it all" for a smaller salary. Just because I've seen it happen over and over in our area with people of all ages, races, etc., but the common factor has been the money they drew versus the money the less experienced person drew.

I hope that she can find something interim. Things suck right now.

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