You're Fired: From the Bizarre to Just Plain Cruel

Once I did a whole batch of penguins. My boss walked in and looked at them and shrieked. Grabbing a penguin, she gasped out, "Oh, my GOD, what an UNPLEASANT expression on this poor penguin! He looks PERVERTED! Oh, my GOD! Oh, my GOD! What a wicked, wicked person you are! Get out of here!" She was throwing penguins everywhere and they were just greenware so they were breaking and crumbling all over the place.

West Chester, Ohio

I worked for a national company for four months when my mother-in-law was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, and was asked to come home (approximately 525 miles.)

We went home and informed employer of the situation and was told it was OK.

Got home on a Monday, mother went in hospice on Tuesday and on Friday afternoon died. Funeral was set for the following Tuesday and on the following Friday, I received a call informing me that I had been replaced and did not have to hurry back to Cincinnati.

Patrick Robbins
Cape Coral, Fla.

I was working in a fast food place ... When making an order of 6 sandwiches, trying to be time efficient as they train you to be, I placed the tomato directly on the meat instead of the bun for the last sandwich, when I received a very abusive tongue lashing and subsequent dismissal -- I had worked there for nearly 3 years!

Donald Lau
Melbourne, Fla.

After a traditional face to face layoff session, my company tried a new kinder gentler approach. They called a big meeting and announced that every employee had e-mail back on their computer that would tell them if they still had a job. I didn't!

Aftermath of a Nightmare Layoff

Being laid off in dramatic fashion can make you feel helpless, but you don't have to be, experts say.

Schade recommends taking the high road: bid your boss and employees goodbye as nicely as possible and, later on, send a note or an e-mail to the co-workers you'd like to stay in touch with -- you never know who could help you find a job later on.

Resist bad-mouthing your boss to co-workers, she said.

"If you conduct yourself with integrity," Schade said, "that's going to make you stand out in the crowd."

Roy Lubit, a psychiatrist and organizational consultant, said that if the person who fired you was truly offensive, it might make sense to alert the company's human resources department.

"You could contact HR at the company and say this is the way the boss did this to me. I don't think this is a good thing for your company to be doing to people," he said. "Hopefully, HR would go and speak to the person who did that."

In the future, Lubit said, that could stop the boss from treating others the way he treated you.

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