Career tip: Let go of past wrongs


Dear Evil HR Lady,

I was employed with a huge international firm for about 10 years. I was at a co-worker's desk when a manager came into the office, told me to shut everything down and take a call from my acting manager in another office. I was told I was fired. When I asked why, my manager said she did not know. I was in a director role in the company.

The manager then physically removed me from the office and told me to come back and get my personal belongings after hours. Do I have any recourse? Is there a statute of limitations before he can no longer make a claim? This happened in 2006.

I obtained new employment and after six months was called into my manager's office and was told that, because of a "management decision," I was being let go (this was in 2007). I asked if the management decision meant I was being fired and was told no. Since that time, this company has posted a number of opportunities for which I am qualified. Even though I submit applications, I never get an interview. Is there anything I can do about this?

Stop and think about what you are asking here. You are focusing on things that happened six or seven years ago. Seven years!  You could have earned a Ph.D in that time, sailed around the world, written several books or gone from conception to kindergartener in this time. 

My point is, whether or not you were wronged, it is time to let go. Whatever happened then is not what is holding you back now. You are holding you back. 

Now, it's highly possible that you were twice the victim of bad management. But what it sounds like to me is two layoffs (which is why, when asked if you were being fired, the answer was no). The direct manager is often not the person making the decision for layoffs and may well not know the reason you were chosen. However, her management was ridiculously stupid not to train her on what to say, but that is neither here nor there.

There is no legal recourse. It's perfectly legal to terminate someone without warning, and even though it's humiliating and incredibly stupid (except in extreme circumstances) to physically remove someone from the premises, it's legal. The only case where it would be illegal is if you were chosen because of your age, race, gender or religion or some other reason protected by law. 

Have you been unemployed since 2007? Or have you just been in less than desirable roles? Because if it's the former, it's time to dust off the resume and be willing to accept any job that you could possibly do, regardless of salary. Now is not the time to be choosy. If you have been working, but just not doing what you want, then set a goal to change what you are doing and work toward it.

The first step in either of these paths is to let go of the past. It's doubtful that your previous managers were vindictive when they terminated you, but even if they were you're giving them tremendous power over you. Why would you let that happen? They are not thinking about you. Stop thinking about them. Stop applying for positions at these companies that terminated you. They will not hire you again.

Focus on moving forward. Stop looking backward. Forgive and forget and move on.

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