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The Almighty Buck

How To Handle Corporate Blackmail? 675

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the slashdot-is-not-a-lawyer dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I have been in a software engineering position at a large company for approximately seven years. Recently, for a variety of reasons, I accepted a new job working for a local software company. I have given my employer three weeks' notice, instead of the standard two, as a courtesy. In return, it has been implied that, in spite my record of above-average performance appraisals and promotions, I will be marked as leaving the company 'on bad terms' if I refuse to extend my departure date further. With only three weeks remaining, I am hesitant to rock the boat by contacting our HR department, but this concerns me and seems like an extremely unethical practice. I live in an 'at-will' employment state, so I know that they have no legal recourse to keep me. I am concerned about the references they could give in the future; having spent a large majority of my career at this company, I will be dependent on them for references to verify my career experience. Has anyone ever run into this kind of situation before?"
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How To Handle Corporate Blackmail?

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  • contractor position? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by i.r.id10t (595143) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:45PM (#26983049)

    Would you be willing, and would your current employer be willing, to stay on a few weeks longer as a contractor at a higher pay rate? Would your new employer allow you to change your start date?

    • by kheldan (1460303) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:10PM (#26983427) Journal
      Why give in to their tactics though? From what the original post has to say, it sounds like if he gives them an inch, they'll try to take a mile.
      • by mcvos (645701) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:29PM (#26983679)

        If they insist, take back the inch. Give them two weeks notice.

        • by AuMatar (183847) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @02:19PM (#26984373)

          Two weeks? If someone pulled this shit on me, I'd tell them "Gee, then I don't see a reason to give any notice then" and walk out.

          • by AuMatar (183847) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @02:40PM (#26984653)

            Actually, now that I've thought for a second, this isn't the best idea (its still what I would probably have done though). The best idea is to meekly agree, walk back to your desk, write up an email explaining what happened, the manager who did it, and saying goodbye to all your friends. Add to the end that in light of events, this email should be treated as your official letter of resignation, effective immediately. Then send it to the company-wide list (or other largest email list you have access to). That way your boss will probably end up losing his job over it, unless you're widely unpopular or he's very politically connected (which is unlikely if he's stupid enough to try a move like this).

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by CharlieG (34950)

              Or just go home at the end of the day, and don't come back

              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by wsanders (114993)

                Don't for to add a hearty "f*** you!" to the end of your resignation letter! It will attest to your negotiation skills.

            • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Weaselmancer (533834) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @03:08PM (#26984995)

              or he's very politically connected (which is unlikely if he's stupid enough to try a move like this).

              The large majority of the most successful people I've seen in the corporate world are stupid, egotistical, loud-mouthed bullies who live their lives without an ounce of introspection or regret. Mostly due to the complete and total lack of repercussions they receive for being so.

              You send out that email and he'll probably get a promotion.

              I don't understand it either - but I've seen things go that way often enough to understand that that's the way it works.

            • by Stoutlimb (143245) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @03:37PM (#26985401)

              I would do something different. I would go back to that manager, and in a conciliatory manner accept his demands, all while having him verbally confirm his demand. I would even grovel and thank him for not messing up my career like he threatened to do.

              And I would record it. (It's legal here.)

              Then I would give it to my lawyer.

              And while working at my next job, I would be happy knowing that my lawyer would be mopping the floor with my previous employer.

              • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 26, 2009 @03:36AM (#26994791)

                Yes, it happened to me too.

                Yes, I recorded it.

                Yes, I got the police to file criminal charges.

                Never got any civil $ though because the company insisted that the manager acted on their own and against written company policy.

                Still, he got fired and the company is deathly afraid of me - wouldn't dare give a bad reference.

        • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @02:20PM (#26984403)

          Firstly,
          Capture their communications saying they would give you a bad rating for leaving on 3 weeks notice.
          Then take the notice down to 2 weeks as the parent poster suggests

          Secondly
          Companies no longer give references in many cases. All they do is record years of service and pay. They have enormous legal exposure for doing otherwise.

          Thirdly,
          If they are really pissy, I'd say "you know... I feel really ill today". You probably have 2 weeks of sick time. Come in late... leave early. For bonus points, Gut a fish on your desk.

          Fourthly
          Your *real* references come from work friends and managers who you were on friendly terms with. Get their names and numbers. Screw the company. It may not even exist in 2 years.

          • by LoadWB (592248) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @07:33PM (#26989903) Journal

            Companies no longer give references in many cases. All they do is record years of service and pay. They have enormous legal exposure for doing otherwise.

            That is not necessarily true. In some states, if you do not give a proper reference for someone who steals from you and that person steals from his or her new employer, that employer has grounds to sue you.

            I did a bit of my own research on this several times over the past several years. This included state employment websites and a number of lawyers.

            The bottom line is simple: ANYONE can sue you for ANYTHING, but your defense is the truth. So long as you stick to the facts, your ass is legally safe. Many companies, however, have adopted policies to reduce risk of lawsuits which limits information provided to work dates and if the employee qualifies for rehire. In some cases, the last bit is not allowed, but again, only by policy.

            The problem is no one has spine enough to stand up to worthless fucks. Some places will not prosecute theft because of the trouble involved. Screw that. You steal from me, your ass is going up in front of a judge. If you have a legal record, then I do not have to give you a negative reference, anyway. Problem solved.

            I have seen too many cases where an employee is fired for theft, but not prosecuted or even noted in employee files, and then qualifies for unemployment. We let too many bad people get away with too many bad things.

            Ugh.

      • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:44PM (#26983881) Journal

        I agree.

        In this situation I would take the "me me me" approach and weigh respective salaries. If the old job pays more than the new job, then I would extend to my notice from 3 to 4 weeks and pocket the extra cash. If the new job pays more, then I'd maneuver into the new job as soon as possible, rather than stay in a toxic environment. See more below.

        >>>it has been implied that I will be marked as leaving the company 'on bad terms' if I refuse to extend my departure date further.

        Implications don't mean much. You need to have it in writing. So if this person "implying" a bad reference is your asshole boss, I would ask him for clarification; maybe he didn't mean what it sounded like. If he confirms he did mean it, ask for it in writing (or capture it on tape) and forward a copy to HR to see if they concur with that manager's assessment. Could be that the manager himself will soon be fired.

        And as for bad references, I've known many employees who sued their previous employers for giving bad reference. For that reason most corporations say nothing, except to confirm "yes this guy worked here starting ____ and ending ____". They don't want to get sued so they avoid saying anything negative. I would not be worried.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @02:40PM (#26984645)

          I'd say do this. Forcing people to accept and further their bluff is a completely legitimate tactic.

          If the new employer will take you sooner, you should tell the boss that if you're getting a bad review anyway, you'll just leave tomorrow and they'll be screwed all around. Tell him and HR that, given his threat, you want it in writing that you'll get an appropriate review in the future or you're walking tomorrow.

          They will have to respond in some sense, because unless you're useless they need you or they lose money.

          -- business owner. Trust me here.

          Good luck with that,

          -Josh

        • by Kelbear (870538) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @03:03PM (#26984941)

          You won't get it in writing from them, but I doubt you'd need it.

          Just go straight to HR and explain that you feel your boss is implying blackmail. Write up these suspicions in a letter and hand it to them so they have a nice neat copy to review...i.e you're holding onto an original.

          That should give you some piece of mind, giving you a bad referral would be an incredible risk for them at that point, it's just now worth it to try to pressure you.

          But most companies don't even give referrals. Not even good ones(in case you turn out to suck at your new job and the new company blames the previous company for a misleading referral). Nowadays you just get start of employment, end of employment, and pay level from a reference.

          • Don't count on HR (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @03:45PM (#26985515)
            I worked once for a national-chain retail computer store, as their lead technician in the tech shop at one of the stores. This chain had a knee-jerk reaction to slow sales: lay off whoever is making the most money.

            Never mind that it is an asinine strategy... it actually does work for positions like cashier, because they can always grab another person off the street, give them a day of training, and voila... a new cashier. Trying to tell them this strategy does NOT work with educated & certified techs fell on deaf ears.

            So, guess what? We had a slow couple of months. And I made the most money in my department. So I was called in one day to the manager's office, where I was read a list of completely bogus complaints from other store managers: not just exaggerations but things that never actually happened. I was told these complaints were going in my employee file and that if I wanted to stay on with the store, I would have to take a $6/hr. pay cut.

            I was furious. By law in my state, I have the right to examine and reply to anything that is in my employee records. So I went home with a copy of these "complaints", and wrote up a detailed and carefully worded reply, including solid evidence that 2 out of the 3 complaints were completely false, and casting doubt on the 3rd. It was false too... I just did not have much evidence to back up my side of the story.

            I took this in to the manager's office, and demanded that my reply be put into my employee file. He told me okay (as he had to, under law). But... I got access to my file a month or so later, and my reply was not in the file. It had "mysteriously disappeared".

            A week or so later, we had a visit from the corporate HR person. Very nice lady. Always "on our side", etc. After the formal meeting I went to her with my story, told her that I had a copy of my reply to the complaints, and I would like to make sure it got in my file. She told me to give her the copy, and she would see to it personally.

            Yeah, right. Of course it never made it in there.

            I quit not long after that, for a better job. But I learned: don't rely on HR. They can be slaves to the people who pay their checks... it is a position that is very close to having a built-in conflict of interest. No doubt some are legitimate, but don't count on it.

            Just as an aside: after I left, that manager was caught embezzling. He had created fake employees and was somehow managing to put their paychecks in his own bank account(s).
          • by sumdumass (711423) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @04:52PM (#26986623) Journal

            I wouldn't go to HR without going to a lawyer first.

            Your essentially telling the company that you suspect wrong doing and possibly illegal behavior from the management directly over you and that you demand proper action.

            The problem with that is you have brought up a legal threat to them that comes from you personally. Their first reaction is probably going to be to forward the letter to a legal department or a supervisor over them who will and then the company will attempt to protect itself from "you" suing them. Instead of you just being a "whistle blower" in this case, you are or could be the hostile party from their perspective. They will have to make a choice, cover their asses from liability or support you and hope you don't sue. There's probably a few other choices too but their fist inclination is probably going to be self preservation which means amassing a ton of information against you to paint you as a disgruntled employee upset with something else with an objective that may be to financially harm the company by fraudulent statements. At this point, any disciplinary actions they take against the manager in question will support your position so expect it to be you gone with him staying until they can find another reason to punish or fire your supervisor.

            Speaking with a competent lawyer first could secure an accurate and proper copy of your record which heads off this burnt bridges campaign when they figure your intentions out. It will pretty mush leave them with the only appropriate action to be supporting you instead of the company. However, the lawyer will know better the we do on what is at stake and how to proceed. Reporting something like this can have legal ramifications for at least on of the parties and legal benefits for you so exploring those issues in order to limit destructive behavior is more then appropriate. Even if they stand on your side of things, after five years or so, the manager may be in a better position to react to a grudge over the demotion he received or the promotion he never got because of that shit.

        • by geobeck (924637) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @03:09PM (#26985017) Homepage

          For that reason most corporations say nothing, except to confirm "yes this guy worked here starting ____ and ending ____". They don't want to get sued so they avoid saying anything negative.

          Actually, the best reference I got from a former employer started out as sounding negative:

          New company HR: "What was geobeck like as an employee?"
          Former supervisor: "He was lazy."
          New company HR: "Um... really?"
          Former supervisor: "Oh yeah, definitely. If he had an inefficient process he had to do over and over again, he'd do everything he could to make it more efficient so he wouldn't have to do as much work."

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            >>>"He was lazy. If he had an inefficient process he had to do over and over again, he'd do everything he could to make it more efficient so he wouldn't have to do as much work."

            That's my entirely life in a nutshell. Even as early as 4th grade, I was always looking for ways to get my math problems done as fast as possible (i.e. looking for patterns), so I could do it in half the time, and go back to watching Tom & Jerry or the Stooges. In fact I think "he was lazy" is the motivation behind mo

      • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:52PM (#26984003) Homepage Journal

        Just make sure they pay for that mile. As in, the contractor rate is 10x the salary rate. See how much they really want to keep you.
         
        As to the question in the original article- I've never had a job last more than 5 years, and I left that employer on REALLY bad terms. I've found that two things are true with respect to long term jobs and references:
         
        1. You can always find somebody outside your chain of command that you did a favor for once who is grateful enough to be a reference, even if they had nothing more to do with your department.
         
        2. Nobody bothers with references further back than the last job anyway.
         
        So therefore, I wouldn't worry about it- get good references from the people you helped, fuck HR, and tell them that if they want you past X date, it'll be $1000/hr.

        • A true story... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by slew (2918)

          A company that I left (because I was fed-up with the management) wanted to temporarily get me to consult on a project as a contractor that we hadn't finished yet. Since I had a new day job already, and I didn't really trust them to pay me in a timely manner (since they had stiffed other contractors when I was working there) and I didn't really need the money, I decided to work for barter.

          Basically, the arraingment was that after work, I went back to the old company for an hour or two to consult on this pro

      • by furby076 (1461805) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @02:26PM (#26984479) Homepage
        Step 1) Send an e-mail (BCC your home e-mail) stating that you have given three weeks notice but got the impression you were required to stay a longer term.
        Step 2) Keep a copy of it's response. If they say "hey we want you to stay longer" great. Send yourself a copy.
        Step 3) In the future when a potential employer says "why don't you want to use these guys as a reference" show him the letters "hey they did like me, they wanted me to stay more then three weeks notice".

        Employment at will also means you can quit whenever you want. You fired your company and gave them 3 weeks notice. If they fired you would you get 3 weeks notice?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          >>>If they fired you would you get 3 weeks notice?

          Hardly. The longest notice I've ever received is 4 days (Monday: "This is your last week."). The more typical term is half-a-day, as happened to my friend John when he and 75 other engineers were told (at noon) to pack up their office and be out by 5 p.m.

          I think it's weird how companies can act Unprofessionally by not giving any notice, and yet employees are expected to follow the standard two week custom (or else be labeled unprofessional). C

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by FictionPimp (712802)

            For me every time I've put in my two weeks I've been told not to bother showing back up.

            I guess I had some angry bosses. What really ticks me off is that I recently discovered that my state has a law that says basically if you fire someone after they put in their two weeks you have to pay them for two weeks. So basically I got ripped off.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:47PM (#26983065)

    Very few companies will do anything other than confirm that you worked during period X. Otherwise they are opening themselves up to all kinds of legal trouble.

    • by Assmasher (456699) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:55PM (#26983173) Journal

      This is exactly right. There are quite a few precedents regarding employers doing anything other than confirming objective information in regards to an employment inquiry.

      As an aside, it is quite possible that no one above your manager (presuming it was he/she that threatened you) is aware of this stupid intimidation tactic.

      You MAY wish to obtain copies of your reviews and other praises prior to leaving the company.

      • You MAY wish to obtain copies of your reviews and other praises prior to leaving the company.

        I second this. Remember that you have access to your personnel file. Make a copy.

        • by wireloose (759042) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:24PM (#26983611)
          Some states, Illinois among them, require that an employer provide copies of a personnel file or any materials within to the employee, for up to one year following termination, upon employee request. If I were you, I'd go straight to HR and ask for a full copy of your personnel file. They already know you're leaving, they should have no problem with it. There is no federal legislation, so you'll have to check your state laws. I would put the request in writing, indicating that the request is in compliance with whatever statute you can quote. Don't make it a big letter, just a short note. Be sure to: ask for your *complete* file, including evaluations, promotions, and any other documentation they have; quote the applicable statute and paragraph; ask for the copies to be provided within 5 working days; date and sign the letter; keep a signed copy. If you don't get a copy within a week, send a registered letter before you leave, referencing the original, and keep copies of it. If you don't have a copy within a couple of weeks, you'll probably have to talk to a lawyer and show him your records. Most courts would find that 5 days turnaround to make a copy of a file is more than adequate. Disclaimor: IANAL....
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by furby076 (1461805)

            quote the applicable statute and paragraph

            I would not resort to this part of the process unless they first said "No". You don't want to initiate a hostile attitude. Just send an e-mail "would you please provide me a complete copy of my employee file... thank you". If they say no keep the e-mail and respond with the statute. If they say no again sue them.
            BCC all letters to your home address.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:11PM (#26983441)

        When I worked in HR calling references, more companies than I would've thought will badmouth you.

        Sure it's against the law, but I'm not going to tell the applicant, "We aren't going to hire you due to a shit reference and sure, I'll gladly use my vacation days to go to court with you".

        Instead your app gets filed away until it gets old enough to shred.

      • by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:53PM (#26984011)

        As an aside, it is quite possible that no one above your manager (presuming it was he/she that threatened you) is aware of this stupid intimidation tactic.

        This is very true. This happened in my company, also in a software group, also in an at-will state. The person affected fortunately liked his coworkers but just hated mgmt and wanted out. Fortunately he also had a GF in the same company (in my group), and she leaked out what was happening and our own manager said that's against company policy and grounds for dismissal, that he should go to HR. They aren't his friend, but they exist for this purpose.

        Well it turns out this was just a desperate manager, at the end of her leash. She was not fired, but was removed and her bluff called.

        My opinion is to discuss with HR, but give them the 3 weeks you promised them, and leave. It's unlikely they'll report any of this to people asking about your references (at least in the US), and you clearly need to leave that company anyway.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      This is a VERY illegal practice. I recommend going head on against this and do the following: 1) Retain copies of your performance reviews. 2) Contact HR 3) Quit immediately. I think it is very important to quit ASAP, because if they have it in for you, they can come up with all kinds of nasty stuff in the next few weeks to "confirm" a poor standing upon leaving. You might also think of contacting an attorney, and have that attorney bring this to the legal department of the company. While your mana
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by HangingChad (677530)

      Otherwise they are opening themselves up to all kinds of legal trouble.

      They're right, it's a hollow threat. And a really strange reaction. Document the discussions. Names, dates. places. I use Tiddlywiki [tiddlywiki.com] for that kind of thing. It date stamps everything and displays it all in a nice time line. Keep copies of your performance evals. There's no win in this for them.

      If you don't want to raise this issue to HR now, then you'll be left contesting any negative reviews are after you leave. I'd documen

  • by oldspewey (1303305) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:47PM (#26983069)
    With a written record of your concerns on file with the HR department, your superiors will understand that a spiteful, negative reference will carry direct negative consequences for them.

    As for which references you choose, if you've been working there as many years as you say then there are probably lots of colleagues who can vouch for your performance on projects where you've worked together ... there is no law saying the references you provide have to be in your direct management chain.
    • by pegdhcp (1158827) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:56PM (#26983197)
      Additionally: If they kept you on payroll for seven years, it would be difficult to explain why they did so while evaluating your performance badly. I suggest in the current economical situation, you should keep your relations with anybody in the sector warm, but this does not mean that you would need to roll over and play dead. Our practice here, is similar to the one described above,

      Would you be willing, and would your current employer be willing, to stay on a few weeks longer as a contractor at a higher pay rate? Would your new employer allow you to change your start date?

      which I think you might offer to your, soon to be ex, employers. Good luck with the new job...

    • by davidwr (791652)

      In many companies, rank-and-file employees can be fired for saying anything positive or negative about a former employee other than confirming dates of employment. So much for relying on soon-to-be-former coworkers.

      Former coworkers who have since left the company are fair game.

    • by gnick (1211984) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:56PM (#26983203) Homepage

      there is no law saying the references you provide have to be in your direct management chain.

      That's true, but there are a couple of gotchas. First, the folks in your direct management chain will (typically if not necessarily appropriately) carry a lot more weight with the hiring managers than your peers. Second, at least at my company, there are company policies regarding (and sometimes preventing) official references given from people that you don't have a solid-line connection to on the org chart. Dotted-line connections and peers may give personal opinions on the person they're asked about, but could face disciplinary action if they give professional opinions that may be inferred as company endorsements.

    • by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:35PM (#26983765)

      I don't think this will effect your recommendations as much as it will effect severance or unemployment benefits. If this small company failed or you get laied off or fired because you weren't a good match. They will say you left on bad terms which may make getting unemployment benefits much harder. For a large company that means they will still need to pay for such benefits. All these HR Regulations are a feeble attempt to make a company responsible for the employees however all it does is force companies to use the loopholes which end up screwing the employee more, to protect themselves from extra liabilities.

      Most of the laws are for the employee but due to politics the "Bad Employee" gets less rights. As no one want to pay taxes to support the lazy bum who jumps from job to job and does nothing.

      A lot of these laws were based a generation ago where people were expected to do the same job for life. There is little change to todays echonomy where people are expected to be in the same company for 10 years or so max.

    • by fermion (181285) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:45PM (#26983895) Homepage Journal
      I largely agree with two caveats. First, if this is the middle of a project with an absolute end point or milestone in the near future, then leaving before the project is finished is questionable. Even if a longer term thing, then I would say leaving without negotiating a departure data is also questionable. Often if a supervisor does this it is because a person is bailing in the middle of a project. In either case, it may have been a mistake not to discuss the issue prior to making a decision to leave. In many cases, especially is one has been at a company for a long time, and there may be some bond, people just like to be asked. It may not be too late to take this approach.

      If the company just wants you around to be their go to person, then good references may be a moot point. I assume that you are leaving to expand your horizons. It could be that management still sees you a s the person you were when you started at the company, and they don't want to lose you, or have some misplaced parental feelings. Who knows, but if they want to keep you just to have you around, then there are likely to be negative feelings. Going to HR may just compound those feelings. Despite this, it will probably be necessary for you to put a letter in response to any negative letter put in because of your leaving. As was mentioned on the recent farewell letter thread, it is better to be as positive as possible. For instance, focus on your record, that you are leaving to expand yourself personally, and that you will never be able to repay the thoughtfulness and help of the people you have worked with. You know, the standard bull shit.

      The lat bit is probably the best advice as far as I am concerned. Many of references have been peers, as my peers tend to know my real skills while my supervisors simply know that I finish work quickly. I wonder if any of you other coworkers have left, and therefore will make good references as they are no longer part of the office politic.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm posting anon for obvious reasons. I worked two months shy of four years at one company. It was doing badly and I decided it was time to start looking for other work. I found another job and by that point layoffs were announced. My bosses all the way up to the subordinent of one of the vice presidents were doing very questionable things to get me to stay. I am not going to detail that because it would identify me, sorry.

      Because of this whiff of no good I got from management I told the places I was lookin

  • Just go (Score:5, Informative)

    by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:49PM (#26983101) Journal

    If that's the kind of people they are, they'll slag you off no matter how long you stay.

    Make sure to keep any copies of performance reviews, etc., but don't give in to that kind of bullshit. Probably won't matter in the long run, anyway - if they're run by assholes like that, they'll be out of business in a few years.

  • Leave now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yossarian45793 (617611) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:51PM (#26983111)
    If they're going to mark you as leaving 'on bad terms', you may as well move the date up and quit now. It's not like they can do anything additional to screw you. Move on to your next (and presumably better) job and forget about the last one.
    • Re:Leave now (Score:5, Insightful)

      by N1AK (864906) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:06PM (#26983357) Homepage

      If they're going to mark you as leaving 'on bad terms', you may as well move the date up and quit now. It's not like they can do anything additional to screw you. Move on to your next (and presumably better) job and forget about the last one.

      This was my initial thought, but ultimately any enjoyment you get from knowing you made life harder for your old company is likely to be short lived. However unlikely it is that this will come back to haunt you there just isn't a compelling reason to risk it.

      I would however ensure you get a copy of anything and everything the company has said about you from past appraisals etc, and I would certainly suggest formally bringing this issue up with HR.

    • I concur (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cat_jesus (525334) <cat_jesus@hotmail.com> on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:09PM (#26983405)
      I had a similar situation happen to me. My asshole of a supervisor said I HAD to give them more time I changed my date from 2 weeks to one week, he decided to make it immediate and I had a nice little vacation between jobs.

      I understand he has since been fired.

      You can't trust someone who is going to threaten you.
  • Test the theory (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LordEd (840443) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:51PM (#26983117)

    After you leave, have somebody posing as a fictional tech company call for a reference. If they make blatently untrue statements, it might fit under some defamation law and be worth a little extra lawsuit money.

  • Call in sick, now (Score:4, Insightful)

    by berend botje (1401731) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:52PM (#26983121)
    Call in sick, and never go there again.

    Negative references aren't the nightmare you might think them to be. Few companies will call former employers as the reply will be very generic or just plain misleading.

    Let them rot, I say.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by griffjon (14945)

      I was going to suggest burning any leave you have accrued as your "fourth week," but getting something on file with HR and making a few bridges with colleagues to get you future good recommendations is probably the better plan.

      Also, CYA - export your email files, now, to a USB stick/CD/whatever and take that offsite. Set up a cc/forward rule for all email post-export, and take any other relevant docs (signed hardcopies of previous performance reviews, for example) offsite -- best to CYA in case you get esco

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        >>>I was going to suggest burning any leave you have accrued as your "fourth week,"

        That won't work. At Lockheed Martin they consider your last day to be the last day you appeared in the office, and will not pay any vacation/sick days past that point (i.e. you can't take vacation your last week). I imagine most corporations follow the dame policy.

        So if you do decide to take a vacation, do it immediately. Or just take the cash payout for the unused days.

  • Walk. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NormalVisual (565491) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:52PM (#26983131)
    I doubt they're going to tell any future employer anything more than the dates of employment. However (and this is just me), if you can confirm that they're definitely going to give you the bad reference, it's not going to hurt you to pack your things *today* and walk with no notice - it *is* an at-will state, after all. You've already got another job, so the reference from your current employer isn't as important as it would be otherwise, and I personally would not be in the frame of mind to offer anything more to an employer that attempted to twist my arm like that. Screw 'em.
    • by Thelasko (1196535)

      However (and this is just me), if you can confirm that they're definitely going to give you the bad reference, it's not going to hurt you to pack your things *today* and walk with no notice - it *is* an at-will state, after all.

      I would inform them of my plans to do so before hand. Maybe they will reconsider and back down.

      If they want to play hardball, play hardball too.

  • Most common advice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by poetmatt (793785) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:53PM (#26983139) Journal

    Remember: get everything in writing and recorded. That includes statements and discussions about this "you need to extend your leave or we might not be so friendly". In an extreme case only, I would suggest stating that you are recording all conversations as is your privilege, and then do so (say with a digital camera or something). Refuse to have conversations that do not have other people with you, and absolutely refuse to have a 2v1 scenario (2 management plus you)...that is quite deliberate as a legal maneuver for workplaces so they can choose what to deny/accept as fact.

    I'd be calling the ACLU among other places and start talking to a lawyer and getting advice in case they do pull something. I think you just found your sign of a bad employer.

    Either way, get more info. This just reeks of "not enough info".

  • by qlayer2 (1122663) * on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:53PM (#26983149)
    I have been in a similar situation- and there is no simple answer. You have to talk to your HR department, simply because you have no other recourse that could come with a positive outcome for you. The only other option with a positive outcome is to contact your new employer and ask for an extension, but in this job market, I would definitely seek out a response from the HR department first. Did this statement come from your boss or higher up the chain? How large a company is this?

    In my situation, it was a smaller company (50 employees, give or take), and it came from the top. I ended up pulling my contract and backing the employer down, simply by pointing out that my contract required 30 days of notice, and I provided more than that. I had also let them know I was looking before I found a new employer, and already had a glowing letter of recommendation from the company, so I had proof that any negative feedback was biased and silly compared to the official recommendation. Did you provide your notice in written format, and keep a copy? Did you sign a contract when you started?
  • by Tim the Gecko (745081) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:54PM (#26983159)
    Most of us don't leave companies particularly often, and are not experts on every detail of how to do it. As well as asking friends, why not get the collective wisdom of Slashdot, where there is experience of hundreds of companies and their behavior? Sometimes tags like "thinkforyourself" are just annoying!
  • by hobbit (5915) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:54PM (#26983165)

    With only three weeks remaining, I am hesitant to rock the boat by contacting our HR department

    Think of it less as "rocking the boat" and more as "making it clear that blackmail will not work".

  • Leave sooner. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by topham (32406) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:57PM (#26983227) Homepage

    Leave sooner.

    They have threatened you and have created a hostile work environment. No reason to 'suck it up'. Just leave. Feel free to suggest to them that if you even hear a hint that they badmouthed you to any future employer, or potential employer that you will seek compensation.

  • What I would do (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zashi (992673) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:59PM (#26983241) Homepage Journal

    I would contact my future employer and notify them of what my current employer is doing. If they are understanding of the situation I would quit immediately. For future jobs refer to the new company and have them vouch that the first company tried to blackmail you.

  • by biscuitlover (1306893) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:59PM (#26983245)

    I got fired from a company I worked for for two years because my boss found some emails I'd sent to a friend of mine (who worked at one of our suppliers) calling him a complete asshole.

    This obviously put me in a bit of a tricky situation with references, but luckily the general manager of the company was a good guy and knew that the guy in question indeed was an asshole, so agreed to give me a reference.

    Your case is even more clear-cut than mine, in that you have obviously done nothing wrong. Given that some people in your company are obviously acting in a completely childish manner, can you find a sympathetic individual - who's not your boss but is someone high up enough - who can give you a reference?

    As a final point, most companies shouldn't give good/bad references for exactly these reasons - they can be used to distort the truth to benefit the company in question. A lot of places just give a standard statement confirming that the employee worked in the specified role between the specified dates - this should be standard.

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:00PM (#26983271) Homepage

    Leave immediately and never go back.

    Contact an employment lawyer, and have them write a "lawyer letter" along the lines of "In response to your threat to provide unfavorable references unless our client agreed not to leave your employment on (date), our client is leaving your employment immediately. Any action on your part to defame the character of our client will be dealt with appropriately". Should cost you about $100.

    One of the standard legal services is writing such letters. Basically, you can pay a lawyer to write what you want in legal language and send it on the lawyer's letterhead for a modest fee. This is useful when faced with annoying threats or recalcitrant vendors.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Trojan35 (910785)

      The above post is the best advice. But if you don't care and really want to have a little fun:

      Reverse blackmail. Tell them that you are leaving today, and they can sign you as a contractor for the next 3 weeks at triple your hourly rate.

    • Any group of lawyers will cost $300-500 just to talk to, as they'll have to do a conflict of interest check against their current client base, get the legal papers in line, and start the process. The last time I needed one it ran me about $400. I had hoped my "friend" would take a look at the papers I needed reviewed, but he was too busy and had to pass it to a subordinate to work on. I'm not bitter; I provide the same type of service and know how fast you can blow an hour or two on setup and filing on the

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:02PM (#26983299)

    You don't need a reference from your current employer if you already have accepted another position. So what are you worried about? Seriously.

    The more crap you put up with, the more crap you get. If you let this employer intimidate you, prepare to be a doormat in your next job, too.

    How exactly you want to handle your departure depends on the kind of person you want to be. Ignore the threat, give an angry counter-demand, sit down with your boss and try to talk about it like reasonable people, ask HR to mediate, hire a lawyer... you have lots of options. Do whatever will be best for your self-respect.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:03PM (#26983319)

    I've moved an left a few jobs, I've been fired from one. In the course of job doing data management, I found the general manager of the company embezzling $20,000 per month. I contacted HR & legal discreetly. Its a publicly traded small company ($150MM market cap). Doesn't matter. The GM fired me shortly thereafter.

    Its a small industry, and when people call for references, they say bad things. "Doesn't follow through", "lack of focus", "wouldn't show up". General bullshit. I've lost several good jobs because of this.

    Here's the shitter: I HAVE NO FUCKING RECOURSE. I fucking stumbled across some BIOTCH stealing, tried to do the right thing, and now I'm fucking paying the price for it. I've been out of work over a fucking year, and can't get a fucking job to save me. I've burned through ALL my life savings (I'm 38), and have no prospects for work. My wife is stressed and I have young kids to take care of.

    So, I don't know what to tell you. Its very possible to get very screwed through no fault of your own.

    Remember this, though: Nobody is looking out for you but you. NOBODY. There is no honor at company. No ethics, no morals. NOTHING. If you don't sleep under the same roof, expect nothing of people.

    yes, I'm bitter and jaded. And I've earned it.

    • You do have recourse.

      Call the SEC and your local DA's office.

      -jcr

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by shentino (1139071)

      You caught your manager committing a crime?

      And HR and legal BOTH put up with it instead of investigating?

      Ok, your manager is a shithead, and HR and legal both either got their heads up their butts, or are in on it.

      Since it's a publicly traded company, you may also want to escalate this internally. Tell the board of directors about BOTH the embezzling AND the fact that HR and legal didn't do squat about it.

      Lastly, if it's not past the statute of limitations for embezzling, I would suggest you report this as

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jonsmirl (114798)

      You have recourse and need to talk to a lawyer.

      "The Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability Act is part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, enforced by the Department of Labor. It protects employees of publicly-traded corporations from retaliation for reporting alleged violations of any rule or regulation of the Securities and Exchange Commission, or any provision of Federal law relating to fraud against shareholders. Not only does this landmark Act criminalize employer retaliation, it also requires publ

  • by Harlockjds (463986) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:06PM (#26983359)

    I'm assuming this is your manager making the threat and there is a separate HR department. If so then go to HR with your concern and only provide the HR person as your reference (which you should do anyways).

    If not then I'd ask your new job if you can start sooner and explain the situation. You don't NEED to work a 2 week notice, it's nice that you are willing to do so but if they are not going to be happy with just a 2 week notice then give them nothing. I'd certainly not ask the new job to delay your start date, your obligation is to them now ,not your old job.

  • by rjh (40933) <rjh@sixdemonbag.org> on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:12PM (#26983469)
    1. Tell your friends that you're quitting, and ask if they would be willing to be references for future employment. Get their contact information and hold onto it.
    2. Get copies of your performance reviews from HR. Once they are in your hands, tell HR what your manager is doing.
    3. Tell HR that effective immediately you quit, and you are quitting because of the pressure your manager is attempting to bring to bear upon you. Tell HR that if your manager had played nice, you would've played nice — but if your manager is going to play hardball, then you have to, too. Be very nice to HR. Be apologetic, even. Make sure HR recognizes you're angry at one specific manager, and not at the entire company.
    4. Walk out the door and enjoy your new job.
  • Get out now (Score:3, Informative)

    by pluther (647209) <pluther@@@usa...net> on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:24PM (#26983607) Homepage

    I agree with the other posters who said to get out now.

    The worst thing you can do is to start off with your new employer by delaying your start date.

    Three weeks is more than enough to be professional about it all, even if the company you're currently at does not reciprocate.

    Go to HR and report the manager who threatened you. Ask for clarification: "Is this standard company policy? Are you going to allow it?" Most likely, they will speak to the manager and tell him to back off. Even if HR encourages this sort of behavior normally, they'll likely discourage it in the case of the person who confronts them on it. If they don't encourage it, then you're doing the company a favor by reporting the manager.

  • Talk to HR now. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Angostura (703910) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:41PM (#26983853)

    Ask them what the company policy is regarding giving references. Explain you are worried because of what your manager has said.

    HR exists to protect the company. Your manager is jeopardising the company since any unfairly poor reference would leave the company open to legal action. HR won't like his actions.

  • by stonewolf (234392) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @04:53PM (#26986645) Homepage

    What they are doing is called blackmail, and it is also an attempt to enslave you. Yeah, being forced to work for someone against your will is *slavery*.

    Grab every bit of documentation you have and take it to a *lawyer*.

    You do not want to talk to HR until you get a lawyer. You want your lawyer with you from now on every time you talk to any one in management.

    Why are engineers and scientists such cowards? If a manager tried that tactic on a lawyer or an MBA they would *own* the company in a couple of weeks.

    Get a Lawyer.

    I am not a lawyer, but I have learned when to call one.

    Stonewolf

  • by NateTech (50881) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @11:45PM (#26993051) Homepage

    Obviously the whole thing's not going to end well. End it like a friend of mine did when a company royally screwed him over. Walk back to your desk, strip to your skin, and walk out... naked. Everyone in the industry to this day knows EXACTLY why he left, and no matter what the company officially says, his action and the reasons for it were never forgotten by anyone, ten years later.

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