Being fired is never good, and having to fire someone can be just as uncomfortable. Since people get so awkward just thinking about letting someone go, they think of interesting ways to ease the pain. However, usually, it just makes it easier for them so they don't have to actually confront the situation.
No matter the reason, these events can get pretty bad, and some people have witnessed some crazy career-ending moments. We wanted to see just how savage these managers and bosses could be, so we looked throughout Reddit and found the worst firings people have ever seen. This content was edited for clarity.
After That She Had No Tears Left To Cry
“I went in for end-of-year review and was ambushed by HR, the company president, and two vice presidents, all of whom proceeded to tell me in great detail for about an hour how much I sucked and how much all my coworkers thought I sucked. They had stories from each colleague (it was a small company) that they claimed happened over the course of the year. I was never informed about any of them nor given a chance to defend myself. I was absolutely humiliating and I sat there crying through it. I was told to go home for the day, come back tomorrow and at some point over the next couple of weeks, I would be told my last day. I left, called my parents crying, then decided to clean myself up and returned to the office an hour later as if nothing had happened. I kept showing up day and after day (while reaching out to my professional network and also slowly cleaning our office and cleaning up files) for the entire month of January. HR finally pulled me into the office early February and said, ‘This is your last day. Leave and make arrangements to come back to clean out your office, clean up files, and turn in your key.’
My response left them dumbstruck, ‘My office is cleaned out, all the files uploaded to a shared drive and I’ll give you a flash drive, here’s my key.’ Then I skipped out of the office, spent the rest of the week playing tourist at museums, then got busy on a new career and life that continues to be more amazing than I ever thought possible.”
After All These Years
“I can think of two examples. There was a fire drill and upon returning, it was discovered that not everybody returned. Apparently it was a literal fire drill where some people were told that they had been let go and this was their way of having them leave. The other example is my dad who had been with a huge multi-national company that tried to fire him a week or so before his 30 year work anniversary. Fortunately for him, the manager forgot to give him the necessary paperwork on time and he was fired but made it to the 30-year mark, which has extremely heavy implications on pension and retirement.
Pensions aren’t as common these days but for this company, 30 years was the end all be all to earn the full pension package which included health insurance coverage for the rest of your life (a significant expense in the USA, especially in the later years without employment). Doing the math in my head just now, it’s even more significant than I had comprehended.
It was not a favor where the paperwork was intentionally delayed. My dad and the manager butted heads and the manager was part of the sweep to force out older, costlier employees. My dad knew that the retirement packet was coming and required and opted to not remind the manager. In the end, he got really lucky that the management was determined to force him out but failed to make it happen before the critical 30-year mark due to the internal red tape.”
The Longest Plane Ride
“A colleague of mine was flown from his office in the field to headquarters under the pretense of a leadership meeting and was fired immediately once he arrived. He was on a plane back home two hours later. The boss didn’t feel like traveling. It was a short trip, so I think the segments were more important. The company management culture gradually became a challenge in how remorselessly cruel you could be.
In the business in which I work, I can say with certainty that this was an incredibly unorthodox event and unseemly way of carrying this out. The business I’m in is, basically, thought work and treating people poorly made it really hard to retain the people who do the thinking for the bosses (so they could sell their employee’s thoughts, hourly, for money).”
From A Hard Time To A Worse Time
“There was this guy who came to work for us about a year ago. This is hard manual labor and the guy had quit slinging dope on the street to come to make an honest living to support his family. He was having trouble dealing with it at first, but he adjusted and ended up being one of the hardest workers on the floor. Always working those 12-hour shifts, staying busy that whole time.
Anyway, he worked with us for a good long while before his 19-year-old daughter died suddenly in her sleep. He, of course, got a few days off. They probably would’ve given him more time, but he really couldn’t afford to miss any work.
The dude held it together so well while he was at work. You could tell for sure he was going through some stuff, but he stayed busy still.
Well, that next week I guess he decided he needed a little more time off, but he didn’t call out and stayed home for two days. After returning from those two days, he was immediately escorted out of the building and fired.”
Adding Insult To Injury
“I’m an HR guy for a global financial services firm. We had an employee featured recently in a newspaper article on homelessness, where he was named specifically as working for the company. Clearly the journalist intended it to be read as a statement that even those in steady jobs can find themselves in difficult conditions, however the partners saw differently – an email went to all employees asking not to contact the individual because ‘We don’t want to overwhelm him during this troubling time,’ while we were instructed to dismiss without notice for damaging the firm’s reputation.
Not a great day for all involved.”
That Would Be An Awkward Lunch
“I had a co-worker tell me about one of her previous jobs. Corporate and HR had required everyone meet at a neutral location for a business type luncheon. Upon arrival, the employees (300+) were split into two different rooms. The people in room A were told they were losing their jobs due to some loss of stocks and being forced to downsize but were being offered a sizeable severance. The people in room B were told they would be keeping their jobs but would also be taking the workload of those in room A. After the meeting, they all had to eat together as it was a requirement to be there.
She ended up holding the job down until the next round of layoffs six months later.”
The Work Wasn’t Appreciated
“I worked almost 100% on one of the major projects at my company, it was one of only a couple of whales that were keeping the lights on. This was during the major oil crash around 2014 or so. The project manager booked a long vacation way in advance and the client decided at the last minute that all the work needed to be revisited (not by our fault, just compliance with a new regulatory procedure).
This was actually great news because it gave a lot of people work to do, which was pleasantly surprising news when layoffs are happening weekly, so we could not say no. A more senior co-worker stepped up and took over. Everything went great and we got the deadline on time, but it took a lot of overtime on their part. They really came through. I and other co-workers mentioned them by name during performance reviews to commend them.
They were laid off a couple weeks later. It was not announced (they stopped informing the staff of layoffs because apparently, it was hurting morale). I was already planning on leaving to go to grad school but I could have changed my mind until that point. I pretty just mentally checked out, ignored everyone and counted down the days until I left.
Just remember that if you work for a huge company, you owe them absolutely nothing beyond your scheduled hours. The people deciding your fate could be entire tiers above whatever low-level manager you answer to, and you will probably never see their face or even know their name. You may get dropped on an impulse to make their spreadsheet numbers look better for their next meeting.”
They Couldn’t Have Thought Of A Better System?
“I worked for an oil company and lived through mass redundancies when the oil went belly up. They sent out a list of which positions were being made redundant, with numbers for how many people currently held that role and how many they were cutting it to. So if it said ‘Buyers | Current: 4 | Consultation: 3’ you knew that if you were a buyer you’d be under scrutiny and 25% of your team would be gone soon.
I sat at my desk and opened the e-mail. Looked for my position, no redundancy for me. The girl next to me opened hers and saw ‘Her position | Current: 1 | Consultation: 0.’ That’s how she learned she’d lost her job.
She burst into tears. She wasn’t the only one, the whole thing was terrible.
I remember making her a cup of tea and feeling simultaneously glad it wasn’t me, and incredibly guilty, trying to comfort her knowing that I had no idea what she was dealing with.
It was awful. A couple years prior to this, one of the girls in our office was coming to the end of her contract and found out her contract hadn’t been renewed when she turned up to work, tried to swipe in, and her card didn’t work.
She phoned her supervisor to say ‘I can’t get in’ and he replied, ‘Yeah, about that…'”
How Was It Not A Disability?!
“I was wrongfully fired from my job and I am still livid. I’m colorblind. My boss gave me a work task that was color-coded in a way that I couldn’t see (based on color-coding of spreadsheet cells, where each color had a specific meaning and I couldn’t distinguish all of them). When I told my boss about this, she decided to write me up for it, under the assumption I was lying to get out of work.
I went straight to HR with a copy of the write-up. The rep told me that there was exactly one way I could get the write-up off my record: I could use our tuition reimbursement program to go take a remedial art class at the local community college. ‘So that you can finally learn your colors!’ she said.
That’s when I found out that colorblindness isn’t protected under the ADA.
This was written about the same time that I stayed late one day to cover for a co-worker who ran out of insulin in her pump. I stayed about 45 minutes while she went home, got her refill, and came back. The next day I was written up for the unauthorized overtime. Another co-worker went into the same HR rep to see if she could put her son on her insurance. She was told that no, she couldn’t do that, since her son lived in Hawaii, and Hawaii isn’t part of the United States.
I decided about that time it just wasn’t worth staying at that company.”
They Fired The Wrong Person
“My college roommate was a temp in an HR office for college credit. She came home one night absolutely disheveled, makeup smeared, heels in hand, just rough. In a nutshell, her supervisor made her participate in firing a woman for creating a ‘hostile work environment.’ Seems cut and dry right?
Turns out the ‘hostility’ was directed at a man the woman accused of abusing her daughter.
The man was also an employee. I’m not sure what happened in the grand scheme of things, but I’m sure someone somewhere filed something. Then again, the area is substance riddled and low income.
The woman obviously went crazy, crying, begging to keep her job, the works. She told my roommate the entire story about how she dated the guy for years and thought he was great but now her 13-year-old daughter had some kind of STD that the guy had given to both of them. Naturally, the mom threatened to kill the guy.
The HR supervisor wasn’t having it, had security take the woman out of the building. My roommate asked the supervisor if she thought the mom was telling the truth. The supervisor, cold as ice, ‘Probably. We hire some really suspicious people. She shouldn’t have left her daughter alone.’
That broke something in my roommate and she dropped her business program 3.5 years in. I think she graduated with a degree in biology or something two years later.”
He Couldn’t Have Given Her A Clue?
“My Fortune 500 company was going through downsizing years back. Everyone knew their turn could be coming so it wasn’t the best of environments. One woman who had been with the company for 20 years was applying for jobs just to see what was out there, but really wanted to stay with the current company. She ended up getting an offer elsewhere. So she approached our manager at the time and told him the situation and asked for advice. The boss basically told her nothing was on the horizon, but do what was best for her. So she turned her notice in. The very next day, riffs were announced, the entire department being let go except for the manager. Everyone got a severance package except for the lady who put the notice in the day prior. She lost 40 weeks of pay, two per year worked. The boss knew the riffs were coming, he could have advised her to wait a day in a roundabout way. What a jerk.
On the bright side, she had a new job right away, while the rest of us took some time off and competed for the same open jobs in the area.”
The Turnover Was High For A Reason
“I was forced out of a job in a bad way. I moved to another state and got a job at an alternative school for kids who had been kicked out of public school for emotional and behavioral issues. The company spent a few hundred hours training me and I learned a lot more on the job. It was difficult at times but I enjoyed the work and the people I worked with. After a few months, I felt comfortable in my role.
Then, for some reason still unknown to me, the bosses wanted me gone. I was called into a meeting with two supervisors who said that we were now overstaffed (which was a lie, we had three vacancies) and that I had an exciting opportunity to move to another program. They wanted to move me to our sister program where you work one-on-one in a public school (which can suck if you have a tough kid). And in that program, they wanted me to be a sub/floater, so I could get a text at 5 am telling me I had to go to a school an hour away to work with an emotionally unstable kid I’d never met before.
So I thought about it the next day and told my supervisor that I wanted to stay where I was, but that I would be flexible and go to the other program for a few months if they needed me there, or be a permanent one-on-one with a kid, just not a permanent floater. I didn’t hear anything for a week and then got called into a meeting with both supervisors and the head director. The head director said that the other program would be better for my professional development and then asked me to tell her three of the professional goals that I’m working on, clearly trying to catch me off guard. I made up something and then told her my reasons for wanting to stay.
I didn’t hear anything for a couple weeks, but the bosses were awful and began sending me emails for any mistakes I made that could easily have been said in person. For example, another staff and I were dealing with an escalated kid who had already bit me, and I was tapping my foot while watching him. The director came up behind me, loudly said, ‘You need to STOP doing that,’ in front of the kid. Then she had one of my supervisors write me an email the next day telling me I had to be conscious of tapping my foot or drumming my fingers (which was true but doesn’t require an email).
Then, I was called into another meeting with the director and two supervisors, who told me that I was getting moved to the other program. I gave my two weeks notice on the spot, which made my coworkers think I was an intense person but it didn’t help the fact that I needed a new job. My director then still forced me to go to the other program for my last two weeks. So I didn’t get the goodbye ceremony or anything at the alternative school and could do very little at the other program since they knew I wouldn’t be there long.
I ended up getting a job at a preschool with a much better boss, but it still frustrated me to think about the whole experience.
Restraints are difficult, I got in trouble once when a girl tried to kick me in the groin and I caught her ankle because catching her ankle isn’t ‘approved.’ The turn-over here is really insane.”
Only The Boss’s Friends Got To Keep Their Jobs
“I think the way I was fired by my last company was pretty awful. I worked in marketing for a small company, the company was having problems and there were crazy internal power struggles which led to my firing. It was basically all downhill because my boss wasn’t meeting sales goals since the salespeople they hired and were buddies who couldn’t sell water to someone dying of thirst and they needed someone to blame.
I went to the Christmas party and had the next two days off. The second day I had off, I got a generic email saying my services were no longer needed. The other two people in my department got the same email. It turned out everyone else at the party (about 20 people) knew me and one of the other people were going to get fired. The company’s HR person, not being the most professional person, had told a couple people we were going to get fired and word spread. The third person who got fired was lined up to get my supervisors job but got hammered at the party and told the boss it was a mistake to fire us so she ended up getting fired too.
Looking back, not only was it awful to fire us a week before Christmas but also to put us in a room of our coworkers who all knew we were about to get fired.
People definitely can be awful. The person that ended up getting my supervisor’s job was one of my coworkers who couldn’t even do his job as a marketer, so the boss’s solution was to make him the marketing manager. He was the boss’s drinking buddy.”
They Tried To Get Him To Admit To Insurance Fraud
“I used to work in a warehouse and one time an employee got seriously injured. His arm and leg were seriously messed up. A palette of heavy things literally tumbled over near him. If he didn’t move right away he could’ve easily gotten crushed. Management thought it was a scam. This guy worked out a lot so management pulled him into the office and began to speak to him:
‘So you hurt your arm at the gym, and now want to blame us?’
‘Do you know what insurance fraud is? Tell us the truth.’
‘We know everything. You can’t lie to us.’
The guy was stunned. He wanted to use his health insurance but the management wasn’t hearing it. This continued for some time. A few hours at least.
I guess someone overheard because three guys from the union showed up angry as all get out. REALLY furious. There was screaming, shouting, and then someone mentioned that, ‘Perhaps we should get the department of labor and other the insurance company involved.’
I guess that was enough to convince him. He let the employee use his insurance and things went on for a while. Apparently, this guy had a habit of doing this to everyone who was injured. Injury happens – A day later, etc.
He literally accused someone of working with a broken arm for two weeks before going to the hospital. I think someone either reported him or the union stepped in because he’s disappeared.”