• 8th June 2008 - By proteman

    Here’s a perplexing story someone just shared with me…

    After nearly three decades as a technical manager at a large corporation, a guy has become newly retired…but involuntarily.

    According to my source, here’s how it went down…

    The manager’s company was bought out by a competitor. A boss from the new parent company called this guy in to tell him he’d been “involuntarily suspended”.

    The guy asked if that meant he was fired or laid off.

    The boss said no…just “just involuntarily suspended”. (Welcome to The Memorandum. Speak Ptydepe anyone?)

    Apparently, the guy is still trying to figure out what that means, what he’s entitled to and what he should tell people when they ask, “Why’d you leave (nameless) company?”

    Is it possible that this company’s intention was to keep “the downsized” in the gray about their status, perhaps to soften the blow or confuse the fact that people were being laid off? Or did they intend to communicate clearly and sensitively, but fumbled? What do you think?

    I Googled “involuntary suspension” and none of the connotations sounded good. I read about involuntary suspensions of insurance policies, contracts…and involuntary suspension of employees or students for bad behavior. But this guy’s boss said he wasn’t being fired or laid off.

    I had a friend who was a pilot in the 90s who was given a furlough (involuntary leave). But this

    blog post by a pilot describes that when the airlines were in trouble, they furloughed their most junior employees, to be fair.

    Back to the thirty-year vet who was involuntarily suspended from his corporate job.

    If he isn’t a poor performer, he isn’t getting fired or laid off, if he’s not being furloughed because of lack of seniority…what is it? Is this a potential discrimination law suit? And how many people is this guy going to tell about his bad experience with a company he’s given 30 years to?

    A good, simple lesson for all companies and business people:

    • Say what you mean if you don’t have anything to hide.
    • Communicate clearly. Fuzzy messages leave much to interpretation. People are likely to imagine the worst.
    • Don’t burn bridges, with good employees, job candidates or anyone else if you can help it. (Who knows…this guy might have a talented niece or nephew that this company may want to recruit someday. Good luck.)

      Copyright 2008. Phyllis Roteman. The Loyalty Group. Sherman Oaks, CA.

  • One Response to “"Involuntarily Suspended" (Am I Laid Off?)”

    • steveroesler on June 26, 2008


      I’m curious: has his pay check been involuntarily suspended as well?

      That could make the terminology moot. Perhaps his attorney could depose a clearer definition.

      This is worth tracking. . .

    Leave a Reply