Just last month, two friends told me how their colleagues lost their jobs under dubious pretenses. The five people who were laid off were skilled and tenured professionals in their early 50s. They haven’t had any attendance or performance issues, as far as my friends could tell. That’s why everyone in their office was shocked.
Is this the newest tactic to minimize the population of older workers in organizations?
While the termination of those employees sounds dubious from my point-of-view, I have to admit that I don’t know the whole story.
Still, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard of this. I hear it from friends, family, and see it on the news, too. So if you’re in your late 40s and early 50s, I suggest you watch out for these signs.
3 Dirty Tricks Companies Might Use to Boot You Out
- Bad Scheduling
Is your boss forcing you to work overtime? Are they changing your schedule frequently, or making it almost impossible to find time for other responsibilities? Are you getting frequent requests to work through lunch and weekends? These are possible signs that your employer is trying to make you quit by means of an unbearable schedule.
Either your boss doesn’t have just cause to terminate you, or they just don’t want to confront you.
- Job Elimination
This is one of the most common excuses employers use to subtly terminate older workers. Some employers might claim the job is obsolete because of technology, sales decline, or a change in the market, but really it’s just a cover-up.
If you’re getting laid off due to a company restructuring, check who else is getting the pink slip. Is it mostly older employees? If so, seek the counsel of a labor rights lawyer.
- Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)
PIPs are special programs designed to help an ”under-performing” employee to catch up and do better. The exact structure and implementation varies per company, but in general, employees placed under PIP have more coaching or meeting sessions with their supervisor to evaluate weekly performance and discuss strategies for improvement.
When someone doesn’t pass the agreed upon requirements after 30 days — the usual duration for a PIP — they are terminated.
Your boss might not have prior cause to terminate you, so they are going to pretend you’re not doing well, place you in PIP then start gathering evidence of your mistakes and failure to follow through on termination. It’s just a means of documenting that they really tried to help you, and that they have proof you’re not good at your job.
Last but Not Least: Early Retirement
This strategy is a little more respectful of older workers. Companies offer a good early retirement package instead of forcing an employee to resign. Many early retirement packages are great, so read it carefully before passing it up.
Most companies go this route first, and then resort to the other tactics listed here if it doesn’t work. Consider your options. If they offered this to you, it means they want you to go. Nicely.