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How to Leave a Job on Good Terms? 755

Posted by timothy
from the grass-is-greener-yonder dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I've been working for a small development company for 6 or 7 years. My boss has always been a bit nuts but overall it hasn't been a bad experience. I recently accepted a great job offer for a technology position in a different industry. I gave my boss my notice this week, and while he initially was understanding, he has since starting making accusations of conspiracy, deceit, and has otherwise attempted to make me look bad in front of employees and long-time clients. (who, thankfully, also think he is nuts) I don't like to burn bridges, but I'm pretty sure he's already burned it to the ground, even threatening to withhold my final paycheck if I don't find a replacement before I leave. Is it worth sticking out the few weeks I already told him I worked, or should I just cut my losses and leave early?"
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How to Leave a Job on Good Terms?

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  • My two cents... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Sunday May 08, 2005 @03:56PM (#12470515)



    My boss has always been a bit nuts...


    Been there...I sympathize.

    ...while he initially was understanding, he has since starting making accusations of conspiracy, deceit, and has otherwise attempted to make me look bad in front of employees and long-time clients.


    There is no excuse for this sort of behavior. Period. Next time he tries to do it, confront him. Remember, at this point, he needs you a lot more than you need him.


    I don't like to burn bridges, but I'm pretty sure he's already burned it to the ground, even threatening to withhold my final paycheck if I don't find a replacement before I leave.


    You know, strictly speaking, it is his responsibility to find a replacement for your position, not yours. You should remind him of this in no uncertain terms.


    Is it worth sticking out the few weeks I already told him I worked or should I just cut my losses and leave early?"


    Just remember that giving a company notice before you leave is not a requirement...it is a courtesy you are extending as part of a positive professional relationship. Frankly, I'd ask him for a letter of recommendation up front, and if he refuses, or threatens to give you a less than optimal review, you simply do not owe him the courtesy of notice.



    In short, don't devalue yourself, and don't let him devalue you, either.




    • by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @04:00PM (#12470554) Homepage
      You know, strictly speaking, it is his responsibility to find a replacement for your position, not yours. You should remind him of this in no uncertain terms.

      There's no "stricly speaking" about it. You have no responsibility on this point.

      If everyone knows your current boss is a nut case, just try to live with it until you leave. If you can't stand it, just walk out. You already have a follow-on job, and you don't need this guy, if he's going to bad mouth you anyway, cut your loss and don't show up tomorrow.


      • There's no "stricly speaking" about it. You have no responsibility on this point.


        Yes...I know...I was actually being a bit facetious in my original post...thanks for the clarification.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 08, 2005 @04:53PM (#12470956)
        > If you can't stand it, just walk out.

        Fuck that.

        Next time he gives you some lip, you make your move. Prepare your revenge by eating nothing but Taco Bell, bran muffins, and cheap whiskey for the next three days. Then you wait until you're in the next board meeting and someone asks if there are any comments. Jump up on the table and say "Yeah! I got a comment!" Then you whip your cock out and smack him in the face with it. He'll freeze out of shock, and while he's standing there bugeyed 'cause he's just been cockslapped you whirl around and go all Tubgirl on him! With any luck he'll slip in the poo and fall down, and finding himself face down in a steaming puddle of whiskey-poo he'll most likely hurl like a 90-pound freshman cheerleader at her first frat kegger. The combined smell of poo and hurl should cause a chain reaction around the boadroom as the entire staff voids their stomachs and bowels in a cataclysmic emetic eruption of Biblical proportions. While everyone's flailing around in a growing lake of filth, you slip out the side window.

        As the coup de grace, you run to his house and tell his wife he's been busted for child pornography. She'll run screaming to her mother, which will leave you unfettered in his home. Get his daughter *and* the dog pregnant, burn down the house, and create a huge upside-down pentagram on his front lawn in weed killer.

        "Just walk out?"

        Feh.

        That's not the kind of talk that got us through Guadalcanal, you know?

      • by serutan (259622) <snoopdoug AT geekazon DOT com> on Sunday May 08, 2005 @05:11PM (#12471090) Homepage
        Seriously dude, your boss can feel any way he wants about you leaving, but telling you you have to find your own replacement crosses the line. You have to take him aside right away and tell him very directly and matter of factly that you aren't going to find him another employee, and he's not going to withhold any of your pay. Employee turnover is a normal part of doing business and he just has to deal with it. Staying 6 or 7 years at a job is way longer than average, and (I assume) you've done good work for him during those years. There's no reason you can't part on good terms, and no reason for him to make threats. Most people respond to straightforward statements of facts. Try to be friendly. It sounds like you genuinely want to be. But if he acts like a jerk and actually does try not to pay you, you have to be prepared to get a lawyer to write a demand letter. [If it came to that, I'd demand the pay plus the cost of the lawyer writing the letter, with a clear statement that the next step will be a lawsuit including punitive damages and legal costs.]

        Your boss isn't Mr. Krabs. This is the real world and he has to live in it. I'm sure that unless he's truly crazy he really doesn't want to deal with a lot of legal crap just because you hurt his feelings or whatever.
        • by Cpt_Kirks (37296) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @07:50PM (#12472386)
          No, much better would be to FIND him a replacement. Surely you know someone who's even a bigger pyscho asshole as your boss. Hire him.

          With a little luck, they will kill each other.

          Other choices:

          - Really Smelly Homeless Guy
          - Seriously, Seriously Flaming Gay Guy (best if boss is a homophobe)
          - One of those guys who is SUPER nice, but a TOTAL fuck-up (they are very hard to fire)

          Use your imagination.

          • by Rorgg (673851) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @11:18PM (#12473704)
            >

            Heh, I know one of these who needs a job. Guy came in as a consultant on a huge db conversion project we were insanely understaffed on, so as a highly paid contractor, they gave him a part of it and left him alone.

            Naturally his part got delayed and whatnot, and as it became clear toward the end of the main body of the project was nearing an end, he was hired on by management in a senior admin position, despite some vague warnings from those in the trenches.

            Once his part of it got finished, well behind the rest, all the rank-and-file admins realized he was a complete incompetent, who would just drone on and on based on bad premises to anyone who would listen. To anyone who didn't know better (read: management) he was a brilliant admin with biting analysis. To everyone with a clue, he was a clueless idiot doing pointless busiwork to hide it.

            Of course, management loved him, and he stayed with us for nearly THREE YEARS before finally there were enough documented cases of him destroying stuff for management to give in and restrict his rights -- whereupon he used what access he did still have to let himself back in under someone else's ID. At that point, caught red-handed, and finally confessing after denying it, he FINALLY got canned because there was simply no other option.

            So, yeah, hire him. Your boss deserves it.
      • In regard to cutting your losses and leaving... if you already have the new job lined up and the current job started mistreating you after you gave your notice, just call the new job and say "I know I told you I wanted to give two weeks notice at my old position, but it turns out that won't be necessary. Would you like me sooner?"

        If they're pros, they'll understand, really. And if they do say they'd like you to start immediately, just pack your personal belongings at your old office, then inform the old ma
    • Re:My two cents... (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheWanderingHermit (513872) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @04:10PM (#12470629)
      ...while he initially was understanding, he has since starting making accusations of conspiracy, deceit, and has otherwise attempted to make me look bad in front of employees and long-time clients.

      There is no excuse for this sort of behavior. Period. Next time he tries to do it, confront him. Remember, at this point, he needs you a lot more than you need him.


      Speaking from a point of view of someone who spent years working with people in therapy, it sounds like this person has some issues that go deeper than the anger and frustration most people deal with. While I would normally advocate standing up for yourself (which isn't necessarily a confrontation), that fact that you start by saying he's always been a little nuts makes me suspect any confrontation will blow up.

      In simple terms, it sounds like he's in denial over what's going on and blames you. In his mind, he probably already sees you as disloyal and even out to get him. This is not a reasonable view, but everything you say fits with that possibility. If that is so, anything you do will be viewed as an attack, and only add fuel to his fire of hate. So if you confront him, there's a chance he could blow up, start calling you names, or just walking away, then burning you in some other way.

      Only you can decide what is and is not important to you. At this point, he's made it clear he considers it okay to withhold your paycheck. I can't tell if it's a bluff, or if he's serious (from what little we have here), but be aware that he is likely holding it hostage. Normally a boss thinks he has control becasue he can fire someone or stop paying them. With only a short time left, he feels he can no longer control you, so he's using that paycheck as his way to make sure you stay in line.

      While it sounds lame, you might be best to try to difuse the situations with humor -- just not at his expense. Or, if he trashes you in front of a crowd of employees or clients, and you feel a need to stick up for yourself, you can always say something like, "He's been treating me that way ever since I turned in my notice,' and try to make it into a joke. He won't take it well, though.
      • Re:My two cents... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Nogami_Saeko (466595) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @05:30PM (#12471222)
        Here's my $0.02.

        Unless that final paycheque is big, BIG bucks - walk out the door and don't come back.

        Really, is the stress and bullshit worth the money? If it's gonna be a month or so, put your expenses on a credit card for a month (keep 'em reasonable), and just pay it off when you get the new job.

        In the meantime, you owe yourself some R&R by the sound of it, so take a month (or whatever) off and enjoy life :P

        N.
        • Re:My two cents... (Score:3, Informative)

          by pediddle (592795)
          If that paycheck is big bucks, I would recommend you do walk away and never come back.

          If he withholds your paycheck, he's in deep shit. In Washington state, and I imagine other places, having your paycheck withheld automatically entitles you to double the amount, plus punitive damages.

          He simply has no right to threaten such an act. If I were you, I'd say, "I dare you...". In any case, investigate your rights in this matter. You might be in a position to burn some more bridges yet come out with a lot o
          • That final paycheck (Score:5, Informative)

            by TheMCP (121589) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @11:15PM (#12473687) Homepage
            I believe every state has a law about issuing paychecks within a certain amount of time after the end of the pay period. The employee who receives a threat from the boss that a paycheck will be withheld should immediately contact their state's attorney general's office to find out what their rights are and see if the office can offer any advice about how to handle the threats. (Do they think he should ignore the threat and see what happens? Or tell him on the spot that it's illegal? Or walk out the door immediately?)

            In Massachusetts, if I remember correctly the employer may not withhold a paycheck for more than a week after the paycheck for the pay period would normally be issued, and in the case of a termination or layoff, they're required to issue a paycheck, expenses, and pay for accrued vacation all on the day of the termination or layoff. I'm not sure what the penalties are. The attorney general's office can refer you to appropriate legal resources, or may even choose to get directly involved with getting you paid.

            I had one incident of an employer trying to not pay me. The AG's office said that yes, they'd take legal action on my behalf if necessary, but first they wanted me to simply demand the money in their name. That got me my money, much to my surprise.
      • Only you can decide what is and is not important to you. At this point, he's made it clear he considers it okay to withhold your paycheck. I can't tell if it's a bluff, or if he's serious (from what little we have here), but be aware that he is likely holding it hostage. Normally a boss thinks he has control becasue he can fire someone or stop paying them. With only a short time left, he feels he can no longer control you, so he's using that paycheck as his way to make sure you stay in line.

        Whatever he th

        • Is that assuming the company is big enough to have a legal department? Or that the boss isn't the company owner? (Or the owner's brother-in-law?)

          You're right, it's not okay to withhold. But people often do things that aren't okay. It's also best not to use other "force" until the boss has actually "officially" said he'll withhold the check, or does. Then there's many things that can be done -- and the last thing I'd do is contact a lawyer (and that's from someone with a good number of lawyer friends a
        • Re:My two cents... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SilverspurG (844751) *
          When I left my last employer I gave no notice and informed my manager that I was taking my two weeks of vacation as I walked out the door.

          The HR department called me to say they would only honor my vacation request if I came in for an exit interview. I told them there was no way I was setting foot in their building again after the way I'd been treated. I put up with it for three years and, one day, made the decision that I'd had enough. It was like leaving a bad marriage with no money, no clothes, no wh
          • Re:My two cents... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by mdfst13 (664665) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @09:59PM (#12473210)
            "They wrote me off, denied my unemployment claim, and withheld the paycheck for the two weeks' vacation."

            Technically, they may have been legally in the right in your case. To take a vacation, you have to come back at the end. I.e. you were required to come in for the exit interview.

            This guy's situation is different. He's actively working. It is not legal to withhold a pay check for work actually done. It is legal to fire someone (and not pay them) for not complying with reasonable work demands (e.g. an exit interview).

            I'm sorry to hear that you had such a bad work experience. However, an exit interview is not an unreasonable request. Heck, I'd think of it as standard procedure.

          • Personally, I'd have loved to give them that interview - and I would have been the most helpful, respectful, level headed example of a model employee those HR people had ever seen. I would have explained with great reluctance that my valuable contribution to their company was ceasing as a last resort, that I had been driven to it, and that it probably wouldn't be long till they were sitting down with the next victim. Most HR people live in a fantasy world, fed BS by both management and employees, occasional
    • Re:My two cents... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 08, 2005 @04:11PM (#12470634)
      I'd also add that it might be a good idea to send letters/emails of appreciation to your co-workers and the clients of your company. Don't say anything negative AT ALL in the letter, focus only on the positives you believe you have experienced in the company. Go over your reasons for making the job change(don't mention money, focus on the positive opportunities you see yourself as having at the new company) and express your heartfelt gratitude for having gotten to work with and gotten to know such excellent people. Make sure everyone you have more than a "hi/bye" interaction with gets a copy. Including your boss.

      This way, no matter what he says, people get to hear from you your reasons and get to hear from you the positive experiences you're taking away from the position. This will foster "warm fuzzy feelings" among many who might only ever hear "his side".

      Let me stress, don't be negative in that letter/email at all. It is imperative that you not be negative at all.
      • Re:My two cents... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Otter (3800) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @07:34PM (#12472265) Journal
        I'd also add that it might be a good idea to send letters/emails of appreciation to your co-workers and the clients of your company.

        You bring up an important point I haven't seen others mention -- not burning bridges isn't just about you and your boss, it's about everyone else involved, any of whom might be in a position to help or hurt you down the road.

    • Talk to a couple of your more violent friends. Organise a meeting between them and your boss after he leaves work. If he's in hospital for 2 weeks, he'll cease to be your problems.

      Buy him some grapes ;-)
    • Can't withhold pay (Score:5, Informative)

      by artemis67 (93453) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @04:26PM (#12470766)
      Also keep in mind that your boss can't withhold pay that you have worked for. If he threatens you again, just tell him that you'll file a complaint with your state's labor comission, and have them open an investigation. Legally, he can't not pay you for time that you've worked. He can't even pay you at a reduced rate, unless he informed you of it before you worked the hours.

      Hopefully, you only gave him two weeks. I found out the hard way, never give more than two weeks; you might think you're doing the boss a favor, but it just makes things harder on yourself to be known as the "short timer" for a month (or more).

      You should definitely try to finish out your two weeks. Chances are, your boss will cool down sometime after you leave, and you'll want him to be a good reference when you embark on future job searches. At the very least, you don't want him to be a negative reference.

      Your boss may be a total ass, but you should try to honor your word. Your most valuable asset in the business world is your reputation.
      • by sfriedrich (25487) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @06:44PM (#12471876)
        Honor your committment but expect nothing in return.

        Old fart story to follow --

        I was working for a -very- small company when I got hired by Apple in '86. I gave them 2 weeks notice and told them that I wanted to make sure that we had a good transition. The next morning I got a phone call from the boss and was told not to come in that day and, "oh, by the way; your last paycheck has been cancelled". Wow, I was a young father and the loss of even a single paycheck was deeply painful to my family.

        I'll never forget the advice that the Apple recruiter (John Boring) gave me when I related the story to him; "Yes, you -can- take this to the labor board and you -will- win... however, you can spend your career looking forward or looking backward... it's up to you where to concentrate." I took his advice, forgot about the offense and the past and had a -GREAT- career at Apple and afterwards. I'd advise you to do the same.
    • Hapenny (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fm6 (162816) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @04:33PM (#12470819) Homepage Journal
      There is no excuse for this sort of behavior. Period. Next time he tries to do it, confront him. Remember, at this point, he needs you a lot more than you need him.
      Which works if the boss is rational enough to act in his own self-interest. Doesn't like concept applies here.
      You know, strictly speaking, it is his responsibility to find a replacement for your position, not yours. You should remind him of this in no uncertain terms.
      And of course, he will say, "Oh silly me, you're right! Never mind!"

      It's pretty obvious what's going on here: the boss is out of his depth, his own job is in jeopardy, maybe his personal life is also in the toilet, and he's blaming everyone but himself for his woes. Under those circumstances, confrontation of any kind is unlikely to help things, and could easily make things worse. What do I mean by "worse"? Maybe just a few harsh words, but this is a classic formula for workplace violence. One should step carefully.

      The threat to withhold the final paycheck is, of course, illegal. The way to deal with this is to politely remind the boss of that fact. If that produces more outbursts, then you should take it to the HR department, and maybe your boss's boss, both of whom will be quite concerned at the legal exposure such a threat creates. Or, if the boss is also the proprietor, you should talk to the state employment commission.

      And you should probably depart as soon as your statutory two weeks is up. There are many good reasons to remain longer: you want to act professionally, you don't want to leave your co-workers in the lurch, etc. But they just don't apply when you're being abused and threatened in this way.

  • by lecithin (745575) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @03:56PM (#12470517)
    "Is it worth sticking out the few weeks I already told him I worked or should I just cut my losses and leave early?"

    Easy. You don't have any losses. You have a job waiting for you.

    Stick with it until you said you would. ALWAYS keep to your word especially when leaving an employer. If they want you gone now, they will walk you out of the building.

    It is your bosses problem, not yours. This sounds like a me vs you thing. If it is so bad, talk to your HR. The odds are that if everybody knows your boss is nuts, they do to. If they don't know, they want to know.

    Do you believe that you are responsible for finding your replacement? I don't understand how they could keep your paycheck if YOU don't find a replacement.

    If your boss thinks that he cannot replace you, put some bait in front of him. Ask if they can match an offer or do something to change your work environment. Even if you have no interest in staying, it buys time and allows you to leave with a smile on your face when YOU say no.

    Back to the original though. DO NOT QUIT EARLY! You gave your word and it is a small world. It would suck to have this bite you in the ass. In a few weeks it will be over and you will laugh at it.

    Oh yea...

    You insensitive clod! You have a JOB! You have an OFFER and a JOB! You have a 'soon to be X Boss' that you can &uck with? Quit bitching! :)

    Get over it! Screw with the Boss and have fun. You are leaving, he has no control over you. You have an offer, you don't need his reference. Get prepared for your new career and forget the past.

    I am curious what the "different industry" is. Did you take up Hindu? :)

    • If your boss thinks that he cannot replace you, put some bait in front of him. Ask if they can match an offer or do something to change your work environment.

      That is a slippery slope. In fact there are many articles and stories floating around jobs sites/newspapers about trying the counter offer route. Here is the short version as I understand it:
      Asking for a raise and throwing down a competing offer are two different things all together. If you like where you are but think you deserve more money, you
  • Advice (Score:5, Informative)

    by DarkHelmet (120004) * <.mark. .at. .seventhcycle.net.> on Sunday May 08, 2005 @03:56PM (#12470519) Homepage
    Obviously, threatening to withhold your final paycheck for something like this is against the law. Report him to the labor board if he does actually withhold it.

    Otherwise, just be polite, but firm. If he burns bridges, it's his choice. You did your best.

    • Re:Advice (Score:3, Informative)

      by ebuck (585470)
      The best reply to a threat of "Holding your paycheck", is this phrase. Remember it well:

      (Laugh in a good natured way and then say) "That's fine, I would love to own this company in settlement."

      It's a rediculous statement, but one that indicates that you do know your rights and won't fold. But even more importantly, it lets him know that his threat failed to deliver the one item that it was really intended to delever: It failed to inspire fear.

      Been there before, and I know it sucks. But don't say anyt
  • easy (Score:3, Funny)

    by grumpygrodyguy (603716) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @03:58PM (#12470530)
    If it were me, I'd give him a good 'ol fashioned swift kick in the nuts. Then say thanks for the job insecurity, expoitation, long hours, minimal pay raise, and general harrasement.

    Then I'd give him another good kick in the ribs to grow on.
  • by norfolkboy (235999) * on Sunday May 08, 2005 @03:58PM (#12470534)
    This sounds legally dubious.

    You need the advice of a solictor. Especially if he is withholding pay, and damaging your reputation.
  • by MoonFacedAssassin (539728) * on Sunday May 08, 2005 @03:58PM (#12470537)
    The main question you have to ask yourself is "Do I need this job experience on my resume?" If you are compelled to answer yes, then your best bet is to leave as cordially as possible, but explain to any other interviewer, if necessary, that you left to pursue an advancement of your career and your supervisor resented it. I say "if necessary" because there's no point conveying that if the interviewer doesn't contact them for reference. Granted, it's tough to find out whether or not they will be contacting them.

    Most sane and mature employers understand that as long as you give them notice of the termination of employment that the burden of employee replacement is on the employer, not you. The fact that your current employer is doing this proves how immature he is. Withholding the last paycheck may be something stipulated in documents you signed at the beginning of employment so you may want to look those over.

    I have had previous employers that I have had issues with personally, but tried my best not to burn the bridge myself. If they had burned the bridge, I would definitely talk to their boss about this. If they didn't have a boss above them then I would gladly have had choice words for them. It's all a judgement call, but if you need this on your resume, definitely don't burn the bridge yourself.

  • by Trailer Trash (60756) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @04:00PM (#12470546) Homepage
    And have the lawyer write a simple letter explaining that you'll be paid through the end of your employment regardless of finding a replacement. Remember, too, to take the high road, don't stoop to this guy's level. It'll make him look all the more like the ass that he is.
    • And have the lawyer write a simple letter explaining that you'll be paid through the end of your employment regardless of finding a replacement.

      I'd use the lawyer only after he held up my check. Make the assumption he won't do something so stupid now, keep docs, and *if* he does something so dumb then pull out the hired guns.
  • DO NOT write anything like the following in a slashdot article: My boss has always been a bit nuts.
  • by davidwr (791652) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @04:01PM (#12470558) Homepage Journal
    I have no good advice for your general situation, other than this:

    1) offer to go quietly immediately, and offer to stay for a reasonable period of time - 2 weeks after your initial notice is reasonable - and let him make the choice.
    2) if he lets you go today, don't expect to get paid for time not worked.

    If he actually withholds your final paycheck, take it up with human resources, his supervisor, or if necessary, someone higher up. What he is doing is most likely illegal. If necessary, remind him of his legal obligations and that the next step will be the court system, civil AND if applicable, criminal court. Don't threaten legal action unless all else fails, that will burn all bridges.
  • by xtal (49134) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @04:01PM (#12470559)
    It's the same as breaking up with a signifigant other - when it comes right down to the marbles, you're leaving because there's something you don't like, and by collary, you think that you can find something better. In this case, you already have something better. The person on the other side of the equation is going to have a tough time with that.

    It's worse if you're leaving a business on shakey ground - because it's the ultimate vote of non-confidence. I think it's worse in tech, because a lot of the time, the people ARE the company.

    Don't worry about what your boss thinks. Do what you said you would, always, but at the end of the day the decision has already been made. Concentrate on making a good impression with your new employers.

  • Easy Answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DanielMarkham (765899) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @04:05PM (#12470586) Homepage
    I've been there, done that.

    Had a couple bosses (especially, for some reason, small development and start-up companies) that lost it.

    The easy answer is: do the right thing. You did the right thing by giving notice, you did the right thing by hanging in there. Go in to work each day and be the best you can. Help hand off the codebase. Give the best training you can to the others.

    The more you do the right thing and your boss acts like an idiot, the better you are doing. Do the right thing and let the rest slide.

    In both of my cases, the old boss felt sorry for acting the way he did. (But this took several months) People get upset when they don't know what to do. Sometimes they act very poorly. My advice is to be a bigger person than that.
  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @04:07PM (#12470603) Homepage Journal
    Don't underestimate what crazy people might do. Be as clean as the driven snow. Make sure you haven't taken anything out of the office. Go over anything you've signed and nail down written documentation that you've complied with it.

    You can turn a conversation into a paper trail by writing a letter along the lines "This is to summarize our conversation of $DATE. I am dismayed that you would think $ACCUSATION, which as I explained is of course incorrect. If I have misunderstood your position please let me know".

    It might be worth the money to consult with an employment-law attorney and ask "here's what I'm doing, I'm dealing with irrational people, what precautions do you suggest?".
  • by kitzilla (266382) <paperfrog@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Sunday May 08, 2005 @04:08PM (#12470611) Homepage Journal
    but I'm pretty sure he's already burned it to the ground, even threatening to withhold my final paycheck if I don't find a replacement before I leave.

    WorkplaceFairness [workplacefairness.org] has a few tips along these lines.

    Sounds as if you've given sufficient notice. Unless you're violating some employment covenant, your employer has no legal basis by which to hold your final check and is probably attempting to intimidate you in an unlawful way.

    Be professional, write or say nothing negative, ask for any employer complaint in writing, work out your notice with as much enthusiasm as you can muster, and seek any remedy after the fact.

    This is why we have unions, folks. Or why we *had* unions. The workplace does NOT regulate itself.

    Good luck, and enjoy your new job.

  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @04:17PM (#12470696)
    ...he has since starting making accusations of conspiracy, deceit, and has otherwise attempted to make me look bad in front of employees and long-time clients...

    If you're being honest with yourself and the /. community as a whole, and if you didn't do anything to deserve the flamewar he is waging against you, then I have this to say about your soon-to-be-former boss: He's an idiot. My advice: Simply be respectful. Don't say anything bad about the boss or the job. If anyone asks (even in some sort of exit interview), tell them it was a good job and everything was fine, but you're leaving to make the next step in your career plans. Period. Believe me, in the future, when the topic comes up, people will know who was the wacky one and who was wise.

    At our company, we don't have the best possible wages and benefits. What we have is good, but there are certainly other companies out there that offer something better. Every so often, employees find a "better" job and leave. I've heard what the "big boss" here says when someone gives him notice. He usually bids them farewell, invites them to come back and visit sometime, and generally gives them some advice. For example, if an employee is known around here for something detrimental, the boss will usually remind him (not to rub it in, but rather to help him out) to pay particular attention to that aspect of his work, so he will start the new job on a fresh page.

    In 20 years, we only had one incident. A secretary, who was a complete wacko, got fired. She took customer lists and God only knows what other information with her, and she actually called all the customers and trashed us. She made threats, she did all kinds of stuff... Our boss, being the wise and learned man that he is, told us all not to worry about it. The ending of the story: Customers called and asked what was going on. We explained that we had fired this secretary. They all said things to the effect that, "You're better off without her." People are not stupid, and they understand who's on the up and up...

  • Use Google! (Score:5, Funny)

    by CypherXero (798440) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @04:18PM (#12470701) Homepage
    You could have risked it and put in your name, his name, and the company's name. Then, wait about a week or so, and then tell him to search Google for either of those 3 terms, and watch his face in horror as the number one result is a bunch of geeks are talking about kicking him in the nuts.
  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @04:33PM (#12470823)
    Seriously - don't sink to his level, make threats or do anything unethical - he will just use it against you.

    Keep records of anything they accuse you of and what you are doing your last few weeks.

    If, after you leave they try to withhold your last paycheck just file a complaint with your state deptartment of employment. Every state I am familiar with has strict laws about requiring that you get paid for time worked. The state I work in has a law stating that the only reason an employer can withhold wages is if there is a court order in place.

    Later, if you feel that your former employer is trying to do something to damage your reputation, talk to a lawyer. This sort of slander is viewed very dimly in the courts.

  • Been there (almost) (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ashridah (72567) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @05:03PM (#12471035)
    I had the unfortunate position of being forced to call in the Victorian state level (Australia, btw) employee relations resolution mob when I was leaving a company a few years ago.

    My employer had withheld 4 weeks of pay, even though I was there AND WORKING for the entire month(!) of notice I gave (a month sounds crazy, never signing a contract like that again). They tried to claim they couldn't afford to pay me. i knew that was crap, although they had a history of not paying debtors, they did have assests they could sell, to people who were actually willing to buy them.

    Fortunately, in my case, using the state-based resolution system means I didn't have to pay anyone anything to get my money. After my ex-employer stuffed them around for 6 months, they finally drove over, had a chat, quietly offered to write them up for fines, and I got the cheque in the mail.

    It was a nice christmas present when it came. :)

    Now, all this said, particularly in the initial article poster's situation, it won't hurt him to stick it out. That gives him a much stronger position if he *DOES* get shafted.

    Also, i'd be inclined to not worry about doing work outside the job description during that time. They can't hold you to that, particularly if you've got other duties to attend to that you DO have to do.

    That said, DO NOT under any circumstances, badmouth your previous employer in any way at any time. That's just asking for trouble, and can come around and bite you in the butt really quick.

    ashridah
  • You need an attorney (Score:5, Informative)

    by jim_deane (63059) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @05:09PM (#12471076) Journal
    1. "Lawyer up". Seriously, go consult with an attorney, because...

    2. Withholding or threatening to withhold pay or benefits as you describe is very, very, very illegal, and so are...

    3. Libel and slander (printed and spoken, respectively).

    All based on my limited understanding of US law, but if you are not in the US there are still likely protections against what you have described.

    Get. Attorney. Now.

    Jim
  • by Glonoinha (587375) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @05:24PM (#12471188) Journal
    Actually I have found many, many times that a camera or a tape recorder (or digital audio recorder) is a wonderful peace-making device.

    Set the tape player on your desk out in the open and just leave it there. Next time someone comes in and says something totally nasty (ie, not paying the last paycheck, or bad-mouthing you, or whatever) just point to the recorder and say "that's on." It doesn't have to be on, but if you manage to time it right even better.

    Amazing piece of attitude adjustment, someone knowing that whatever they say or do is on tape.

    I once walked into the county court records office once and as the worker-bee walked up (I think I interrupted her game of Solitare on her computer, she didn't look happy) I popped a flash camera up and snapped off a picture. When she asked what that was all about, I explained that I was going to send her picture to the Mayor describing how helpful she had been. And she was very helpful, go figure.
  • by pvera (250260) <pedro.vera@gmail.com> on Sunday May 08, 2005 @06:19PM (#12471643) Homepage Journal
    INAL but:

    1. Your employer is *not* entitled to advance notice of your departure (unless this is spelled out in a contract).
    2. You are *not* entitled to advance notice of your firing (unless this would mean the employer is in violation of a labor law).

    That's it, just two exceptions. If your contract does not specify a notice period, and a penalty for not doing so, you are clean. If your state laws don't force them to, your employers can wait until the very last second to tell you that you are fired or laid off.

    The 2-week notice is a common courtesy, less than two weeks is too drastic and will hint at a less than friendly departure. More than two weeks will make the whole thing akward.

    It is not your responsibility to find your replacement before you leave. The only thing you really owe them is a resignation letter so they can CYA. Give them thanks for the X years of great employment and for the camaraderie or whatever.

    We all know it is all a lie, but you are trying to leave in good terms and that letter will stick around for a while. Next time somebody calls HR to verify your employment, you'll get lucky and the person that answers the call won't know you. She'll pull your file and read the letter and won't hesitate to tell them that sure, you worked X years there but moved on because of whatever. If there is no letter she'll ask around and eventually she'll make it to your boss, who may or not be bitter about it. You fill the blanks.
  • by imnoteddy (568836) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @07:15PM (#12472121)
    Simply point out to this idiot that if they withhold your last paycheck that you will go to a lawyer who is an expert on employment law in your state who will love to take on your case and totally ream the company for potentially a hundred times as much money as your last paycheck.

    Unless you signed an employment agreement that requires you to find your replacement (which you probably didn't and which wouldn't stand up in court anyway) they don't have a leg to stand on.

  • Stick it out. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) <Satanicpuppy@@@gmail...com> on Sunday May 08, 2005 @07:29PM (#12472227) Journal
    Just because your now thankfully soon to be ex-boss is an unprofessional jerkoff, doesn't mean you need to sink to his level.

    I got forced to resign under threats of BS lawsuits (which I couldn't afford to fight) by a guy who was pushing me out specifically because I told him, when asked, that I believed our company problems stemmed from bad marketing tactics.

    Since he was in charge, and since his son was head of marketing, I pretty much figured what the outcome was going to be, even saying it as politely as I could. But he went seriously overboard, and really screwed me, when it wouldn't have cost him anything to act like a professional instead of a child.

    Even so, I told him I'd enjoyed working for his company, dealt professionally with the last few of my responsibilities and cut my losses. I did this to a degree that he's been trying to hire me freelance for the last two years, even after that company went Chapter 13.

    I say "trying" because I'm professional, not stupid.
  • by DSP_Geek (532090) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @07:33PM (#12472252)
    I was working at a smallish outfit a few years ago when someone recommended me to a VoIP startup. The position came with enough stock options to choke a horse and a nice bump in pay, so I took the gig on the condition I could finish my current project at the original company. They accepted, I did, and when I resigned from Company A the boss told me I was welcome to return any time. The guy didn't take it personally at all, so the whole thing was quite civilised.

    Well, the startup did what startups tend to do, and once the paycheques stopped I phoned up my former employer. It turned out he had a great pile of pending projects which needed an experienced DSP engineer, and here comes this ghost from the past who also happens to be familiar with the code base. It took us somewhat less than a minute to reach an agreement.

    If he had freaked out and pulled the above crap, I would've never called him up again even if I were so poor I had to eat cat food, but because the guy was a consummate professional we're both ahead of the game.

    Francois.
  • Advice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OverflowingBitBucket (464177) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @07:55PM (#12472427) Homepage Journal
    Here's my advice. Take what you will. I've been somewhere similar once. I didn't follow this advice entirely, but if I had to do it again, I would. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes.

    Do the time from your notice there. You aren't obligated to find a replacement, but tell your boss that you're happy to spend your remaining time looking for one and training one up if you find one. Be polite, even though the prick doesn't deserve it. Do not let yourself be intimidated. Let him dig his grave in front of the other employees. Politely disagree or ask for clarification when you are attacked or discredited. Do not work one extra minute beyond what notice you've given, do not work one extra minute overtime. You owe your boss nothing due to those threats. But make sure that any potential future employer can look back and see that you delivered 100% on what you owed, and that the employer was the one who fell short. You need to be 100% in the right because your employer will trash you when a future employer calls up to confirm your employment there. You need to show you did nothing wrong.

    Expect nothing in return. You probably won't get the pay. Move to your next job and concentrate on that. If your pay doesn't show, consult a lawyer, and write a polite but firm letter stating exactly what you are owed, with a due date, sent by registered mail. Take your time, discuss things in writing only. If he calls by phone (likely) and offers anything, ask for confirmation in writing (unless it is money, in which case ask when it will arrive). Don't let yourself be intimidated. If they won't play ball, after you're settled and have a steady income, then weigh up legal action. Do not fight this without a stable income behind you, it will be one of the most miserable experiences in your life. I've been there. Get a position of strength whilst attempting to be "reasonable", and if you feel it important to crush the prick afterwards, do so. Don't go light on them because they "might" give you a bad reference. Think about what they are going to do if you let them off. If they'll trash you anyway, you've got nothing to lose, assuming you can show you've been reasonable through the whole process.

    I could go on, but you've probably got the gist.

  • by C_Kode (102755) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @08:29PM (#12472637) Journal
    Many people say you should take legal action if they withhold your paycheck. First off, it will cost a hell of alot more to *take legal action* than a single paychecks value. (unless you are paid something excessivly stupid amount, then you would be the moron for leaving!) All you would have to do is contact the local labor board and inform them of the situiation. Your employer would be contacted by one of their reps, and the would comply in a hurry as no employer wants the labor board breathing down their neck.

    It would cost you any attorney fees either.
  • by hey! (33014) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @08:36PM (#12472683) Homepage Journal
    Reminds me of a young guy I once knew who worked for an outfit I did some consulting for. He'd worked there a couple of years while finishing up and defending his Phd dissertation, but was doign work well below is capabilities. After successfully defending his thesis, he landed an excellent job at a prestigious intitution.

    His boss at first was OK, then one day suddenly turned on him in the kind manner you describe, trying to humiliate him and doing everything short if cutting the buttons off of his blazer. The young guy was very cool about it, a total class act, but everyone else around was appalled. I asked the young guy about it later, and he shrugged, and said it didn't bother him too much because he was going places in this field, and the boss wasn't doing himself any favors in his future employment prospects.

    Of course, this kid was thinking in terms of years, but it turned out his prediction came true a lot faster. Some of the people who were remaining behind began quietly looking into the boss's Phd, and discovered it was fraudulent, and spread the information around where it would do the most damage.

    The lesson is that sometimes you really do create a kind of karmic force that affect your destiny. Take no action to harm your boss or your current company in any way; it's pointless since they can' harm you in this situation -- only you can harm yourself. Act with dignity and professionalism and everybody who can see this situation will remember all the more clearly for the contrast with your boss's actions.
  • Subject (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Legion303 (97901) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @11:53PM (#12473865) Homepage
    "Is it worth sticking out the few weeks I already told him I worked, or should I just cut my losses and leave early?"

    [Trollmode="off"]

    It depends on how you want future employers to see you. Do you want to be known as the guy who stuck with a tough situation and honored his obligations, or the guy who "cut his losses" (as other people are suggesting) and ran?

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