It was time to leave, and the HR lady came to me and said I would have to sign a release letter and send it back within 2 work days (the following Monday was a holiday), otherwise I would not get any of the remaining pay
I'm not familiar with the law in Canada, but I rather suspect that it's similar to America, so a bit of advice for the young and impressionable: virtually no threat to not pay an employee wages is worth taking seriously. Don't sign anything. Say you'll run it by your lawyer. You don't even need to have a lawyer when you say that, but the prospect of your lawyer going to the employment commission and saying "My client was denied wages. Do you need me to say anything else or can we just proceed directly to 'He gets them'?" will generally make them back off.
I mean, as one point among many, your lawyer is going to say "You think he was a consultant? We have written representations from you that he was a FTE, and you treated him as a FTE, for example in attempting to control his working hours. It is materially against his interests to be a consultant, because this implies that you haven't been paying employment taxes on him. That's unfortunate, but it's not our problem, and rather than stick him with the bill for $X,000 in back taxes we're just going to tell the tax authorities that he's been maliciously reclassified and that you're delinquent in your obligations. Given that this will likely trigger an audit and potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars of fines for you, how about we just agree to give my client what he has coming to him, and you report an inadvertent paperwork screwup to the tax authority when you pay your fair share?"
That said, IIRC, even BC is pretty employer-friendly for the first 3 months, in terms of notice and so on. And it appears the author thought he was entitled to stock options after 9 weeks, which is.... not typical, in my limited experience. And they company sounds like they were dicks about it, but basically, terminating the relationship and paying out your salary (but not bonuses or unvested equity) is usually legit.
If he had made it through 3 months, he'd have a right to some severance pay, and if they tried to terminate-with-cause he'd be able to sue for wrongful dismissal. Because of this, even in borderline cases, most (many?) companies go for termination-without-cause.
All the bits about reclassifying a full-timer as a contractor, though? Hells yes, that's a world of hurt for the company if they try that. Not only work direction and taxes (both huge issues), but also consider the pay consequences of trying to get 70-hour weeks out of a contractor. But I doubt that they were actually trying that; it seems so unnecessary.
The spin of the article is weird, though. He's having trouble justifying his 9 weeks? "I tried an experiment because there were some very attractive aspects about the opportunity, but it turned out that management had no experience and very unrealistic expectations, and it didn't work out." What could be simpler?
SHORT VERSION: as patio11 said: don't hurry to sign anything, and spend at least an hour reading about your legal rights, and as patio11 suggested, drop hints that you're interested in your legal rights
Based on the quotations around "stock options", the fact that the HR lady brought up the topic, not the author, and that the author adds "$0 (as expected)", it seems pretty clear that the author was not expecting, nor feeling entitled to any stock option compensation.
Paying legal fees for employed persons sounds like a great way to provide them access to fair(er) representation. Otherwise if they have to pay out of pocket they can't afford it, and if it's loser pays the risk requires a large reward before it's rational to pursue.
Well done, again, Canada.
My guess is that lobbying is less intensive in Canada than in the US because it is very difficult to do legally. I watch a commission in Quebec about the alleged local corruption and I am stunned to see that most of what is at stake there would be absolutely legal in the US.
wikipedia says Canada has 308 MPs and 108 senators; and the US has 2 senators per state and 50 states so 100 senators. US House has 435 reps.
Still a good point re: population per representative
Thanks for the tip. I always find your comments very helpful.
This was definitely a huge learning experience for me; probably better now than 15~20 years down the road. I too, was quite sure they would still have to pay me even if I didn't sign. I just wanted everything to be done with and never have to deal with them again. I've had to sue before, but I try to avoid it if at all possible.
Funny thing is there are 2 other points in the release:
Releases and forever discharges the company, its officers, directors, shareholders, etc etc etc...from suits, claims, demands, liabilities, etc, etc, etc.
Agrees not to disclose the terms of this Release to anyone other than the Contractor's professional advisors (well I consider HN my professional advisor so I guess I'm in the clear)
seems quite questionable to me.
Regardless, I will keep your advice in mind. The next time something like this occurs (hopefully never), I will be better equipped to deal with it!
In your future professional dealings, and those of the peanut gallery, you may find that people often just expect you to agree to their terms because it's easy, and that this is sometimes not in your interest. I've done my fair share of that, and had it blow up in my face once or twice, and almost blow up in my face a few other times.
Not to talk too much of the particulars, but I once signed a fairly straightforward contract which had straightforward terms which I thought I understood. In my ignorance, I did not understand that one paragraph -- which I thought was "the usual boilerplate" -- obligated me to do something which would have been very against my interest. That situation ended up getting resolved amicably, but older and wiser consultants (and my lawyer), when told what I signed, have all the blood drain out of their face.
In the instant case, you've just been dealt a bum hand by an employer, and based on their previous conduct I would not advance them bus fare, to say nothing of going out of my way to help. That "release" might include, hypothetically, an indemnification, a term which sounds almost synonymous to programmers. It isn't. Your competent legal representative would, if they read "indemnification", say Oh Hell No. There are probably even worse terms that could potentially be in there that I'm not even sufficiently creative to dream up.
Why affirmatively ask for that sort of risk by signing a contract which gives you no upside at all? You don't owe them any more than declining politely and asserting that paying your for services rendered is not optional. Asserting yourself there probably isn't nearly as costly in real life as you might be modeling it as.
Anyhow, stuff to keep in mind for next time, and for those in the peanut gallery who might eventually be given a similar ultimatum.
Also, comporting yourself like a Serious Businessman who does Serious Business (like contracts) only when doing Serious Business routine things like asking for a contract review from an actual honest-to-6-minute-billing-increments attorney sends a strong signal to would-be counterparties that they should not attempt to take liberties with you.
That kinds of puts them into the same category as someone who comes up to you on the street and asks you to sign something. You don't owe them anything - there's no goodwill - there's no upside. They get "basic politeness" but not co-operation.
Sure, it might not cost you anything to sign, but you'd at least need to spend the effort (or money for a lawyer) to ensure that.
So you signed a compromise agreement (which you have now broken) without getting anything for it or having a lawyer check it out.
I was asked by a lacky to sign the 'I quit' paper, essentially resigning my benefits.
Lesson here: Do not sign anything without asking a lawyer about it or at least reading it in depth.
At least in my experience.
What I'm saying is: don't assume you haven't accepted a contract just because the company doesn't have your signature on a piece of paper.
How he calculate how much I work is base on how he feels like how much I work. Apparently the first day didn't count cause I spent the day root hacking an old employee Apple Laptop cause he didn't ask and refused to ask an old employee for the password (cause the guy was a dick apparently).
I just told them, repeatedly, "I would like to get paid for the amount that I've worked for". I calmly calculated the days I've worked and ask him if there were anything wrong with my calculated days and that we can talk about it. But I would like to get paid for the days I've worked. Lead email was like look man I don't wanna fight you I just feel like you work less but whatever. For the record he was a dick and a bully and basically said, this is how the place is going to be run if you don't like it you can leave. I told him that I'll leave.
I don't see how anybody tolerates this crap. I wouldn't have lasted a week there. And you better believe there'd be threats of legal action on any withheld pay. It's obvious to me that they're just riding horses into the ground until they get where they want to go.
I also wouldn't have put up with that "You're not 100% committed here," crap. I probably would have laughed in his face. "Look pal, unless you have a specific problem with the job I'm doing, stuff it. Then I'd make a show out of leaving at 5. A company needs to deserve overtime before I'll give it to them. Pulling shit like this is the fastest way of losing it.
It's easy to see the psychological tactic they're pulling, preying on your desire to be part of a team to extract an unreasonable amount of effort out of you. If they're using them on you, then they're probably using them on everybody and working there will be misery. Time to call the other shops and see if they filled their spots yet.
I'm very cognizant of my wage and it's translation into hourly terms. When I get hired at a given salary, it's for 40 hours. If they want more hours, I expect more pay. Plus, I'm not shy about pointing out that numerous studies have shown steeply declining returns for each additional hour worked. Eighty hours of work does not equal twice as much productivity.
I actually worked a job where the department manager told us that he wanted us to start working 60 hour weeks. Not for any specific reason. Just because. So as a group we all started leaving, very deliberately, at 5 o'clock. When our 40 hours were up, we were gone until Monday. That particular manager made our lives difficult enough as it was, so we weren't particularly worried about his ability to do anything more than just whine about it.
Now I see this stuff going on and I'm wise to it. Four months ago I started working for this company, the understanding was I'd work for three months at $20 an hour then they'd hire me at $60K.
Three months roll around, nothing. I called my recruiter, told my boss, but nothing happened for another two weeks. Finally I badger my boss into making some inquiries. He tells me we're all good, follow me into the CFO's office and we'll talk about bringing you on.
I get in there and the guy tells me that the recruiter's fee is $8K and they don't want that going on this year's balance sheet. So they want to bring me on Jan. 1st.
I told him, no, that's not acceptable, we need to work something out. The difference in pay is $400 a week, are you willing to give me that as a bonus? He tells me maybe they can come up off a grand. I stare at him until he cracks. Finally he says he might be able to get them to put the fee on next year and they can bring me on Dec. 1. I didn't react to that.
After I get back to my desk, I'm pissed. After venting to my boss, he lets me go home at lunchtime. I spent the weekend shoring up my resolve. Monday morning rolls around, I call my recruiter and tell him to start looking for a new job for me, and explain to him the heap of bullshit they're expecting me to swallow. He doesn't want to give up just yet and asks me if I'd be willing to make a deal. I tell him I want a salary bump to $65K. I leave work that day feeling better than I had all weekend after finally sacking up and doing something.
The next day I get a call from my recruiter saying they're going to bring me on immediately, at $60K. I didn't get the raise but I don't care, it's a victory and everyone knows it. The CFO looked like a sad puppydog who had his toy taken away when he came around to drop the news himself. My boss and I are chuckling a bit as he leaves.
It wasn't just me bitching to my recruiter. From what I gathered, my boss got like all the department heads to go by his office and ask him when they're bringing me on. He didn't want to brag, and I think he wanted to let me have my victory, but it's as much due to him as it to me.
My brother's contract ends in about an year - due to this screwjob, he is requiring a massive salary increase + rectification of the missing signing bonus + extra vacation benefits or he walks. He said if the company did right by him in the beginning, he would have accepted much more modest increases, but he is furious over HR & HR's refusal to fix their mistake once he found out that other nearly identical hires got paid significantly more than him (with the only real difference being that he was the younger hotshot hire than the others).
It's pretty sad that some of these supposed top class companies are making what I would term as rookie mistakes. If they want to attract & retain top talent, they need to be treating them like top talent because the top talent don't want to stay at a company that doesn't treat its employees right.
Do you mean preying, I dare ask?
Two examples from my past:
The law here in Victoria changed, and I (as a contractor) became a payroll tax liability to the company that hired me. So their CFO scheduled a meeting with me and informed me that he expected me to lower my rate to take into account the payroll tax.
I said, "no - the legislation clearly states that the liability is incumbent upon the employer."
He said, "yes, that's true" and dropped the matter. I continued there amicably for another year or so before my contract expired.
Another example: I joined a company as a permanent employee (not a contractor) with clearly specified business hours in my employment contract, and no mention whatsoever of on-call work.
Then a few weeks after joining, it was announced that there was a requirement for 24 hour support from the dev team, and we'd all be expected to participate. My response was: I'm happy to keep an eye out for problems if I'm at my computer and not busy, but on-call was never part of the deal, and I'm not doing it.
Nothing bad came from my refusal in either case; in fact, I suspect my dealings with the first company was smoother afterwards, once it became apparent that I was not a push-over.
- in neither case were the people involved assholes; rather the contrary in fact
- I was in my thirties when both things happened; had I been in my early twenties I almost certainly would have caved to both requests (self-respect and confidence both lacking back then)
- I remained calm and polite at all times
No thanks, we are above that shit.
A good contract and a good professional attitude does wonders
1) Commitment was questioned -- in my case, I disappeared for a rainy weekend for my wife's birthday and wasn't online over the weekend.
2) Attitude was questioned -- regular beat the staff meetings in the morning after pulling an all nighter, I tossed the pen to the next guy (a friend) and miss threw and it hit the ceiling. "Why are you being an asshole?" It took a bit to realize that was what was being asked.
3) After a great showing at Demo we launched with no ops/support and engineers with the knowledge (me) were expected to be on call after 80 hour weeks. I got grumbled at due to a support issue as I was returning from a morning at the Legion of Honor and heading down Highway 1 (no signal, peace). Oh, the wife wasn't happy either -- "why are they bugging you on a Saturday morning?"
That said, the overall product we built was one of the more fun and diverse I was involved in. It was very hard to make the decision, but sometimes you know it is just right to walk away.
There are startups that are like that. Sometimes, like the post above, the signs are there early. Sometimes, they don't show themselves until much later.
A couple of years later when the company had an exit, of the 35+ people that were there when I left, only four that I new (including the two founders) actually remained.
Assuming it was a good exit, those 2 are some shrewd (and despicable) founders.
It was a learning experience for me -- specifically, not to get lost in the interest of solving problems at the expense of personal work/life balance.
We all have our faults, professionally, you hopefully learn what those are and not repeat them.
Defamation lawsuits are expensive to launch or defend; but a vengeful founder usually has more money that an individual.
if you're a scared american, anonymity still works on the internet. for now.
How are you instilling that attitude in your company? How big would your company need to grow before misguided middle management might be appointed who _does_ think this is an appropriate management technique, resulting in this happening on your watch with you later described as a "detached executive"?
Having stuff like this "never even occur to you" leaves you in the possible danger of not being aware if it starts happening around you. (Though, in this instance, the revolving door developer role should have brought some scrutiny on the manager in question…)
The startup described by the OP is smaller than our company, and they already have this problem. If we were large enough to need middle management, I would be absolutely paranoid about hiring good people that understand management. There is a lot of culture around hiring good engineers and sneering at management, but it seems to me that hiring good managers is an order of magnitude more important. A bad engineering hire can be a very expensive mistake, but a bad management hire can be absolutely devastating. They can derail their own team, and a few other teams they interface with.
If I had a really insecure/misguided manager like that reporting to me, I cannot imagine not noticing. Here's one simple trick to do that -- have occasional one on ones with their reports. Most people won't necessarily say anything bad about their manager directly, but you can quickly gauge people's sensibility in what they don't say. It's like doing reference calls on hires. Few people will say "this guy wasn't good" but there is an enormous difference between references who say "this guy was ok" and "this guy was spectacular". You can sense it very quickly if you're looking out for it.
Also, I would advise against not having 1:1s with your direct reports' reports. To a new manager, it can feel like you're undermining them and don't trust them, and to an individual contributor it can make it very confusing who they should bring ideas or concerns to.
Instead, hold informal lunches with a subset of individual contributors without the manager present. This is a great way to get them to know & trust you as a leader, and you can still gauge the tone of their happiness from how they react at the lunch. You also sometimes become aware of whole-company cultural or organizational problems this way, things that really need a founder/CEO's intervention to get fixed. And if you pull the subset from across different teams, it also serves as a way for people from across different teams to get to know each other and strengthens social ties between different areas of the company.
That sounds like "360-degree feedback":
Which seems like a good idea but I've known of places that turned the entire process into a process that sounded like something from the Chinese Cultural Revolution - where all managers were ritually had their characters attacked by everyone surrounding them (usually to the point of tears).
It doesn't matter if it's beer or if it's Star Trek or if it's an religious-like attitude to Cucumber Testing or even if it's a tech company or not, the fact is that some potential asshole who's on a slightly higher salary than you can decide to fuck with your livelihood if you don't tow some intangible line that matters to them.
I see it as a byproduct of capitalism, bosses will be bosses, and I've seen people trashed with 'fairness' as often as I have seen them trashed with non-conformity to whatever the ones in charge (or even the ones in the middle) care about.
As long as you have a list of conditions attached to your paycheck, this isn't going to change. It sucks, but it is how it is. You either have to play the game or find some place to work where the game is tolerable to you and your values. It doesn't matter how you cast it, but there's always a game to be played, some will seem more virtuous than others, and that will change from person to person.
>I see it as a byproduct of capitalism, bosses will be bosses, and I've seen people trashed with 'fairness' as often as I have seen them trashed with non-conformity to whatever the ones in charge (or even the ones in the middle) care about.
I don't see how you relate it to capitalism. This is about valuing 'culture' over money; you are going to see it even more in a co-op or commune.
Now, you could say in capitalism, this "cultural fit" is more top-down, but I don't think it's any less ugly or destructive because it's coming from your peers.
I mean, that's what some people like; some people only want to deal with people who are like them. But it's not a profit-maximizing move.
People often have houses to pay off, kids to feed, cars to buy, and they're interested in maintaining their foothold. They might say they buy in to a companies culture but the reality is, if they had to sacrifice themselves for said culture they'd always put their interests first.
So employees with limited power and authority over their little domain, are going to act in their own interests by as you say hiring people like themselves, by creating a culture that matches their values and keeps outsiders at bay, and by ousting anything that threatens the status quo.
It would be really interesting to see how things would work if people were able to separate costs of living and productive activity, but because they're tied up they're going to influence each other.
Why would someone over-quote on a job? Because they want more money so they can buy that thing they want or pay down their house quicker. Why would someone fire someone for not being a 'cultural fit', maybe it's because their behaviour threatens their position in some way. No questions are good questions. If Blackberry could have flipped a switch and prevented the iPhone from ever being made, by god they would have done it. It's the same behaviour and it's prevalent as hell.
So, that's what I mean.
EDIT: It ultimately does come down to money and protecting income streams (i.e. employment) while expending the least amount of energy as required. It's hard work for a manager to look after the needs of a team that has a cultural outlier even if they are ultimately improving business outcomes. It's easier to have people to nod their heads in agreement and show up 9 to 5, produce maybe 10 hours of true productive work a week. It's such an easy think to fake and it happens everywhere.
The thing you are missing is that while I may benefit when /other people/ discriminate in favor of my group, as an individual? I actually lose out if I discriminate based on irrelevant factors.
(Now, if there was some kind of enforcement of this clan altruism; if I stopped getting the in-group benefits because I refused to place the interests of the group before my own interests, then it'd be different. But I haven't seen any cases, at least in my career, where that sort of defection is punished.)
Now, there are all sorts of emotional/cultural reasons to discriminate against outsiders, if you have a strong group identity, but it's certainly not in your financial best interest.
Trade unions don't have a significantly better history with discrimination than management does. This problem goes far beyond monetary self-interest.
Employees are going to be part of your team for at least two years. If your team can't stand them then that's going to be painful.
However, "Cultural Fit" used as an excuse to prevent team diversity is bullshit. Every study done on it has proven that diversity increases team productivity. If a team is mostly white middle-class guys and not hiring girls because of cultural fit, then yeah, that's bullshit.
I think that instead of looking for positive "culture fit" (which just seems to encourage every interviewer to judge the candidate by whatever subconscious prejudices they have) we need to enforce "no assholes." In other words, we should flip the burden of proof. Instead of requiring the candidate to demonstrate that they are a culture fit, we need to have the interviewer demonstrate that the culture fit isn't there. In the debrief, when one of the interviewers says that the candidate was not a culture fit, I would ask them to back up that statement with specific statements or behaviors that the candidate exhibited in the interview. I think that would do a lot to counter our unconscious predilection to look favorably on people just like us and harshly on people who aren't
There is a major file drawer effect here. Writing a study proving the opposite is a career limiting move.
"We have these other prejudices but we can't tell you what those are because if we do, you have grounds to sue us, so instead, we're going to simply chalk it up to a poor cultural fit."
They don't say that, exactly.
Over the past few decades,a great deal of research has been conducted to examine the complexrelationship between team diversity and team outcomes. However,the impact of team diversity onteam outcomes and moderating variables potentially affecting this relationship are still not fullyanswered with mixed findings in the literature. These research issues were,therefore,addressed byquantitatively reviewing extant work and provided estimates of the relationship between team diver-sity and team outcomes. In particular,the effects of task-related and bio-demographic diversity at the group-level were meta-analyzed to test the hypothesis of synergistic performance resulting fromdiverse employee teams. Support was found for the positive impact of task-related diversity on team performance although bio-demographic diversity was not significantly related to team perfor-mance. Similarly,no discernible effect of team diversity was found on social integration. The impli-cations of the review for future research and practices are also discussed.
Previous research on the role of cultural diversity in teams is equivocal, suggesting that cultural diversity's effect on teams is mediated by specific team processes, and moderated by contextual variables. To reconcile conflicting perspectives and past results, we propose that cultural diversity affects teams through process losses and gains associated with increased divergence and decreased convergence. We examine whether the level (surface-level vs deep-level) and type (cross-national vs intra-national) of cultural diversity affect these processes differently. We hypothesize that task complexity and structural aspects of the team, such as team size, team tenure, and team dispersion, moderate the effects of cultural diversity on teams. We test the hypotheses with a meta-analysis of 108 empirical studies on processes and performance in 10,632 teams. Results suggest that cultural diversity leads to process losses through task conflict and decreased social integration, but to process gains through increased creativity and satisfaction. The effects are almost identical for both levels and types of cultural diversity. Moderator analyses reveal that the effects of cultural diversity vary, depending on contextual influences, as well as on research design and sample characteristics. We propose an agenda for future research, and identify implications for managers.
That being said, I still don't advocate a monoculture environment, if not for one reason, it isn't the right thing to do to discriminate.
There's also the huge risk of groupthink with a monoculture (something that doesn't strictly fall under the heading 'productivity').
A reasonable workplace would be able to accommodate people with different personalities and viewpoints as long as they treat each other with respect and consideration. Such workplaces are however quite rare.
From when did working 30+ additional extra hours just became a sign of being merely committed? The way I see these are just mind games played to extract tons of work for free.
I see this pretty standard these days. The Google 20% time policy is a standard in many companies to get free innovation out, while your grinding your bones to dust(sold to you as 'chasing your passion' , 'developers like to code during late night and weekends', 'world changing problems' etc) working whole nights to get some thing done, a VP some where is sleeping through his job. What happens at the end of it is the VP gets a fat bonus and a promotion for 'driving the innovation' while you are at the very best known to be just 'committed' and given a certification, which isn't even worth the paper its printed on.
Almost any time you hear some senior guy glorifying long working hours, demanding free innovation and depicting heroic contribution as just doing bare minimum job. Know one thing for sure, this guy is going to leech you till the last drop of blood in your body.
I followed this along and there are so many signs that the person should have realized, "hey, I'm being screwed here or about to be screwed, do something about it". Instead, he kept going based on what he was told even though his own intuition told him otherwise.
One thing I have learned is that strong, aggressive and manipulative people size you up instantly by throwing something at you that puts your own strength on the line. This could be a request they make of you, a statement or something else.
If you at that moment don't show that you are just as strong and aggressive as they can be but choose not to be, then they know they have you and will step all over you all the time.
Standing up for yourself and calling out the project manager for making you looking like you were fired instead of quitting is not a question of being professional or not. The obvious question will be "Why didn't you speak up? You were already being let go?" The project manager would not dare to do such a thing if the right boundaries were setup initially.
I've asked it so often and been in so many different teams I can more or less tell what the working environment and management will be like now.
Generally they aren't expecting this question so you catch them flat footed and get a clear unfiltered emotional response. The emotion on there faces betrays them. Every team has pain points, they have to answer the question with something negative, but its how they react with them that gives away a lot about the work place.
From a good teams you'll get a chuckle or story, which indicates to me a culture of understanding and dealing with things sensibly. Sometimes just a smile followed by a negative statement like "well releasing is problematic". But its that initial positive reaction.
From bad teams I've seen panicked looks between interviewers to make sure they don't divulge something, people turning white/clammy/sweaty, refusals to answer/insisting to move on/changing topics, silent stars at me LOL anything thats not openly a positive emotion.
Thanks for sharing. I'll use it from now on in job interviews.
I manage a small team and was wondering what I would say if asked this question--probably that our pain points are our server hardware/software, which are a bit, shall we say, "antique". Some of the other pain points fall out of that one.
And during the phone or in-person interview you can ask questions about team dynamics, like who you report to and are working with, how long the interviewer has been working there and how they like it, etc., to try to get a sense for how things work.
And I'd say ask as many questions as you can reasonably think of--it's more about how they answer questions than the answers themselves.
If they show resistance or evasiveness, then that may be a bad sign.
You can usually spot it in the job ads themselves (look for "fast-paced," frequent references to "deadlines," and similar language).
Did they ever deduct taxes from you? Did you give them a GST number? Did you submit invoices to them?
If they made deductions and you didn't give them a GST number they are likely in big trouble.
If a judge smells employment he will classify you as such as make sure you get your due.
Also, those hours, ugh.
On our team, if these kinds of workloads start popping up before a product launch, there is a serious discussion about it. It means that someone over promised, and that person needs to be taken to task.
My response would be: So I'll of course be getting a 1.75x raise over my current salary, right?
To be clear, I'm not against really giving it your all for your work, but I lament how across much of the tech industry putting in insane hours is considered just the baseline. If I've got real equity in a company and I'm really a "stakeholder" (a term that gets thrown around to a ridiculous degree), sure, I'll work my ass off. If you're paying me approximately market rates and a piddling amount of common shares that are bound to be diluted away to nothing, sorry but you're going to have to do much better than that if you expect me to negatively impact my overall quality of life to any degree.
Director: "How much is the new place offering? We can match."
I told him the number.
Immediately his tone changed, and said I should take the other offer.
I wanted to give a 2 week notice, which I thought was the norm, but he asked me to leave immediately and use up my remaining days as vacation days as my last few days at the company.
At that time I did not realize that I was entitled to my pay for the remaining vacation days, so I agreed to it without much thought. Part of it was because I could not imagine this guy doing anything shady in my previous interactions with him, as he always seemed like a stand up guy.
By forcing me to use my vacation hours, the company saved a few hundred dollars, which would have been a lot for me at the time as I only had a few hundred dollars in my bank account.
But looking back in retrospect and reading many similar stories, it seems common, almost expected, for younger kids to be screwed over like this in the workplace, especially when departing a company.
This case was probably wage theft. If it was within the last few years, the government would probably like to hear about it. Most states have a department of labor or something similar that investigates this sort of thing.
When you turn in your resignation, your notice is just an offer of a grace period. They are not obligated to take you up on your offer.
The part where it seems somewhat unfair is where the director asked weixiyen to give up pay they were entitled to.
It's fair enough to ask for a favor ("hey, do you mind using up your vacay days before you leave?"), but you should make clear that it is a favor and what it entails - it sounds like that may not have done in this instance.
The director was under no obligation, after that notice, to allow him to work those last two weeks and then take the vacation. He was obligated to pay the vacation as it was compensation earned by weixiyen. But weixiyen (again, could be wrong if his/her state has certain laws) had no legal grounds to compel the company to allow him/her to continue working.
"Denise’s smile was pained. “But then there’s your absence at most of the weekend and evening events, all of which are of course totally optional, and your corresponding PartiRank, which is surprisingly low for a newbie."
"Optional" beer party anyone?
Nobody else in the office who isn't trying to pull this lame bullshit gives a damn if you go to the beer parties or not. Some people like them, some people don't. Some people just want a chance to unwind after work and shoot the breeze over a beer. Some people want to fuck off at 5:00 sharp on friday and go home and drink beers by themselves or with their real friends. Some people don't drink. Nobody cares. Sure, there are brogrammers in the world who are going to diss you or think you're lame for not doing it, but this is on the level of people who would diss you for wearing the wrong brand of shoes, so fuck 'em. Same with the linkedin and website stuff: nobody cares unless they're trying to use it as a pathetically ineffective lever against you. It would be like complaining that you haven't posted any Facebook updates gushing about your new job. You'd just laugh in their faces or ignore them, because it's just so ludicrously irrelevant.
Through reading the article, I waffled between sympathizing with the author and thinking he sounds like someone who doesn't have the backbone to say "come back to me when you have concerns based on something real." The impression that I got was that the author accepted that these factors were the measure of his contribution in this particular team, and thus decided that this was not the team for him, whereas what was needed was to put his foot down and say "no, you're not measuring me that way." Because unless the whole company really was toxic, I doubt many others would have gone along with such a weak bunch of evidence that he's "not committed."
Part of the reason I finally wrote it and posted it on HN was because of seeing that article a while back.
"On Friday, you find out that your dad’s O.K. But the rest of the weekend, you basically go blank. You logged into your profile only three times, and nothing was updated. It’s like you disappeared!"
BTW: if you haven't chosen a new gig yet, or you're still freelancing as well, feel free - or encouraged - to fire me an email (in my profile). We're based just over here in Victoria, but do the 100% remote thing.
For the most part there's no peer pressure from my colleagues (both Japanese and non-Japanese), but the pressure comes from the senior management. My probation period was extended because of me leaving on time everyday, even though all of my tasks are completed.
I left the company for a different reason though. I applied for my honeymoon leave and got rejected twice.
(This little story is by no means a representation of all Japanese companies or all Japanese, just a retelling of my experience working for a Japanese company)
The fact that they monitor 1-min deviations from prescribed time really seems outlandish to me. Makes me view my chill startup job (45-55 hours a week) in a new light.
It was immediately removed from this site.
I'm actually from Vancouver, so I would love to know the name of the company.
The OP's old employer:
1. Has one (big) claim to fame
2. Located in Vancouver
3. Has a product "dealing with large amounts of money from customers’ bank accounts"
But (3) might not be part of a product already released.
There are a lot of game developers in Van--with, of course, a thriving beer/overtime culture, but who really knows, to be honest.
I have seen different dynamics on other teams within the company, but it's also not the complete picture as I am not part of those teams.
Either way, (3) is a new product, essentially a startup on it's own. There are many other such projects within the company.
It is also not a game development company.
Hehehe, the good old "it's a startup inside a big company!" thing. Here's my advice for when someone pitches that thought to you: run away.
Here's the thing about "startup inside a big company!" - it's never true.
I just think that if you're so moved by your experience that you need to write a blog post about it, you should say who you're writing about so others may try and avoid your fate.
Yes. Because if they win, the person making the claims has to retract them publicly and the original statements are usually destroyed. The threshold of defamation varies from place to place -- in some jurisdictions truth is only a partial defence.
And, if they genuinely are pricks, they will sue because they are.
In the meantime, the respondent has to rack up hairy legal bills.
> I just think that if you're so moved by your experience that you need to write a blog post about it, you should say who you're writing about so others may try and avoid your fate.
You're asking them to externalise the benefit and internalise the risk. Most ordinary people don't have the financial position to sustain it.
Defamation is serious business. It can really smash your finances, even if you win. A spiteful company, of the sort people write about, is the sort that sues at the drop of a hat.
However, most of the time it'd make perfect sense for OP.
Personally, I've deeply appreciated a lot of the reviews I've seen of employers on Glassdoor. Just recently, during my last job hunt, I was looking into a couple San Diego companies with promising positions...until I looked them up on Glassdoor. When I saw not one, but many reviews from different reviewers saying such things as "Working for this place will suck your soul dry then crush it" I immediately lost all interest in working for the company. Granted, the Glassdoor reviews aren't perfect, which is why I look for general agreement on the company from different reviewers and/or position titles (as a proxy for different departments of the company).
But sometimes it is funner to burn all bridges.
The only thing the OP should have done differently, IMO, is made clear to his colleagues that he handed his notice and that he wasn't being sacked.
""", it allowed the transactions of users to be skewed, allowing malicious users to cause other users to essentially lose money, or worse yet, put them in a potential dispute, and ultimately, cause our product to lose customers."""
report to the regional financial services authority. Create anonymous story about how company x is causing massive user vulnerabilities etc.Send this information to the companies clients.You could cause massive damage and come out looking like the good guy if you spun it right.
When you have contractor status, are brought into a meeting where they say you are underperforming, not committed, and turn deaf ears on however you try to justify yourself... and you end up leaving the company... you may have been fired.
The biggest mistakes you made was a) still being a contractor b) not asking for severance if you would opt of of claiming unemployment on them.
I don't think you can fairly say a person was fired simply because s/he quit following a dispute with the boss. Maybe the person would have eventually been fired, had s/he not quit. But that's pure speculation.
There's the cliched "you can't quit, you're fired"/"you can't fire me, I quit" scenario. I think the question of who terminated the relationship is less clear there. But that doesn't seem to apply to the story the author tells.
Why quibble over this? Because the distinction between being fired and quitting matters for the employee's future prospects.
> The biggest mistakes you made was a) still being a contractor
How do you know the author was in fact a contractor? The author didn't post his offer letter, tax forms, or other similar documents. So we can't know for sure. But he says he understood himself to be a full-time employee. Some of what he describes, e.g. the boss's comments about hours, seem to support this view.
The distinction only matters as to whether the OP has leverage over severance or goes after unemployment.
OP's future prospects are hurt either way if the next job calls that PM as a reference -- and slightly by this blog post.
These are the scenarios I was thinking of. They're the reason the distinction matters.
in my humble opinion, the only time you should pass up an offer like that is to work on your own startup. after all did you not apply, and interview, and compete fo, and WANT the job? i don't get it.
sorry, it's just too good of an opportunity. jeez. at least someone else got a shot because this guy passed it up.
I ended up leaving after what was considered a surprisingly short time because I didn't particularly like living in the area. There are other aspects to life than having a famous employer.
That said, I'm with you that it's an attractive opportunity. But founding a company of your own is just one of many reasons to pass. Personally, I value telecommuting.
I remember seeing a post by someone asking for advice, his problem being "what can I do to counter people's assumption that <I am typical of people with the same credentials as I have>?" (<>s mark my paraphrasing).
This problem is, in fact, a source of great aggravation to almost everyone I know.
And the best response, which stuck with me, was "nothing; it's an assumption by someone you don't know".
There really are a host of advantages to dealing with other people in person. And if you're thinking of hiring a stranger, you really don't know most of what you want to know. And the connection between workplace and remote worker is necessarily more tenuous.
But an expectation that you will work more than the 40 hours a week that they're paying you for, blows my mind.
When you took the job, did you sign an offer letter that outlined your employment status and role with the company?
Just curious. I would think an offer letter would resolve any questions about that, should it become necessary.
You don't think this whole scenario you've described represents a victory for you, do you?
It's kind of funny to look back on that now, when I'm actually on sabbatical in preparation for a shift to less than forty hours a week. Almost the opposite action, but toward the same goal of asserting control over my own time. Different circumstances call for different tactics. It's easier to refuse from a position of strength and trust, which doesn't exist when there's no record of one's ability to step up when it's truly necessary.
Your attitude is the product of worker-motivation-propaganda. You have been brainfucked.
Since then, I've done a lot more than most of my peers to maintain a decent work/life balance. For example, when my daughter was born I negotiated a shift from my role as system architect responsible for my company's whole product to an individual-contributor role that gave me more freedom to spend time at home. If you think that's no big deal, try it some time. Right this second I'm on a sabbatical, and when I return it will be at less than standard full-time hours because life is just too short to spend all of it at work. I've even written about it.
In a nutshell, you are completely and utterly full of crap. I've done more and written more to fight the "heroic programmer" mythos than you ever will. You interpreted my anecdote in almost exactly the opposite of the way it was meant, and then made up some extra stuff besides, just so you could present your commonplace (and probably borrowed) observations as insight. Piss off.
I'm not (yet) a developer (though that is my long game), but I have run into similar situations in data science. I had an idiot boss (boss of my immediate boss) who sat around all day with his feet on his desk, staring off into space, but demanded that we all work 60-ish hours a week. And this was at a bank, where the standard was 40 and they made a lot of noise about their support for work/life balance and having family, etc. Anyway, he was a dick, too. Passive aggressive, the whole nine yards. So I found another job with a rapidly growing tech company and received an excellent offer. It seemed like a fantastic opportunity to really take my skill set (in data analytics) to the next level. I'd be the data guy and the role would work directly with the CEO, President, and all the other acronyms at the highest levels. The work I did would directly impact everything. Seemed cool. And for a couple days, it was. I went in early, stayed late, and worked my ass off to learn everything. They had three or four different databases running MySQL and MS SQL, and none of the data was documented. Which is to say that the only ones who knew what a given field was in the database were their 3 developers. When I started they presented me with a list of 114 reports they wanted created for the company. When I left, after having produced a significant number of those reports, the list had grown to 124. From the first day it was a constant struggle to figure out how to pull data from all their various databases, determine which fields were the right fields (i.e., it's called X, is it X? Or is it called X but it is actually Y? Or it is called X, it generally is X, but sometimes it's Y?), and smoosh everything together fast enough for their near-daily meetings. After a week the President called me into his office and told me I wasn't coming up to speed fast enough. I was completely stunned. And I attempted to professionally defend myself against his baseless assertions. I pointed out that I'd only been their a week. That I had a huge amount of data in a number of databases for which there was no data dictionary of any sort to make sense of. That I was making rapid progress in both learning the data and making effective use of it. That he'd be hard-pressed to find anyone else who could do any better than I was. I pointed out that I was doing everything in my power to get up to speed as rapidly as possible: I was coming in early, staying late, and working weekends. In the week I worked there I put in close to 70 hours. And I didn't get to see much of my family (wife and daughter). It sucked. But I thought that it might be worth it.
The clincher came when, in our conversation, I told him that I was rapidly coming up to speed, but that doing so fully would take time. He told me (verbatim), "we don't have time. We need to go faster and faster. I don't have time for you to come up to speed." Then he gave me (implied with a grim smile full of teeth) a week. "We'll see how you're doing in a week..." he said.
But after he blind-sided me like that, I put in a long day, mulling things over. Then I went home and talked to my wife. The conclusion I arrived at was similar to your own. It could've been a great opportunity if the company leadership (namely my boss the President) wasn't completely unrealistic and divorced from reality. To this day I have no idea how they expected anything different than they got from me. Did they truly expect me to come up to speed even faster than I was? Within a week? Or was our weird and painful conversation some perverse sort of pep-talk?
Either way, in talking it out with my wife, when it came down to it we realized that it just simply wasn't worth swimming in the sea of vipers. There was no way I was going to work 70-84 hours a week for the salary I was making ($57,000/yr). Not when it was working for people who clearly had no idea what they were asking of their employees and how to treat people. They just didn't deserve to have my talent, abilities, and work ethic on staff. I wrote a one sentence resignation letter and dropped it at their office the next day. I said "This letter serves as notice of my resignation, effective immediately." I decided that any more long-winded explanation of my reasons for departure would be lost on a person like the President, so I put all those reasons in a Glassdoor review of the place. True to form, I received an email out of the blue from the President a month later. "Abe, saw your Glassdoor review. What gives?"
Also, similar to your experience, I got the impression after a couple days that I wasn't the first data guy they'd tried to bring on board. Though no one would talk about it, I got the impression that they, too, hadn't stayed very long.
Anyway, I share my story by way of commiserating with you. It's shocking to find such horrid work environments somehow persist, even for highly skilled individuals. We expect better treatment, and often get it--which makes it all the harder to take when we don't. Of course, in your case and mine, I wouldn't take that kind of treatment no matter how much the job paid, or how much I liked the work or product.
Thanks again for sharing!
I think that statements like these are things that inexperienced, starry-eyed founders say because they don't realize how stupid it makes them seem. It's the employee equivalent of saying "We have no competition!" or "When we build it, customers will come!" to investors. Anyone who's observed how things actually play out knows that it doesn't work like that, but it seems plausible to first-time founders who aren't particularly grounded in reality.
Your story seems quite similar to mine. I still get chills down my spine thinking about it. But it was a great learning experience, now I know with my experience, and with the valuable input I've received on HN, I will be much better equipped to deal with similar situations in the future.
And if the environment is toxic and they'll repeatedly try to get people to do the job, they'll get absolutely nothing done in the long run?
In any case, while this was apparently a pretty "lame" party, it appears to have been an important part of the culture of the firm, and OP didn't jibe with it very well.
There was thanksgiving food; there was cake; a few people brought small children; my boss played an instrument and sang for us. It was great.
Basically I agree with you that the "party" described was lame. The problem isn't that there was beer at an on-premises party even though OP doesn't drink. The problem is (definitely) tacit mandatoriness and (to a much lesser extent) that the party didn't have anything to offer other than a chance to show that you're "dedicated".
I can't remember quite how I responded to that the first time I got it but it went something very much along these lines:
"To gain big you have to gamble big, if big gains were simple everyone would be doing them. There is always the possibility of failure, of losing everything you bring to the table, and being a hundred percent committed to anything, bringing everything you have to the table, is a bad gambling strategy. We can work together for our mutual benefit, but if you expect me to throw my entire life, and potentially all my future options, behind something that may or may not work out... well, I can see how that's to your benefit but I don't see how it's to my likely long-term good. The average lifespan of a company is thirty years, and significantly less in the startup space. I'm afraid that if you want me to sacrifice my interests for yours you either need to be paying me a lot more to justify the added risk you're asking me to take on, or we've reached a parting of the ways."
People like that are, I feel, just looking to take advantage of you. Loyalty is won by laying the best hearth, not demanded.
Did you have conversations about this with anyone other than the PM?
I hear people often complain about communication... they rarely attend these functions. It's not their fault I guess... but it's a reality.
Added to my big-picture_manager RubyGem.
disadvantages to getting older, but one advantage is accumulating a set of observed good patterns and bad patterns you can start doing pattern matching against. there's a reason some companies specifically going after 20-somethings, folks. because y'all are more likely to fall for the anti-patterns, not see the warning signs early enough until its too late.
That's also not to say copywriting or design isn't valid but its severely hard to justify a PM when there's a total of 3 cats to wrangle. I imagine his attitude comes from fully understanding he's all but worthless and instead of bending over backwards to make up for the deficiency, jackass syndrome sets in.
Bait and switch seems to be pretty prevalent in our field, whether it is intentional or not. I personally wouldn't name and shame immediately but at some point when the anger subsides, I owe it to the people that come after me to be perfectly honest about this point in time. Can company x grow out of the mire of this? Sure. But this will help others read red flags early before any major damage is done.
That shit is highly illegal. Get a lawyer. Even now, after the fact, there are things an attorney can do for you, like negotiate a settlement. (If they pressured you into signing a release or non-disparagement agreement, they're afraid). The release should be voided by the threat of withholding wages. This reversion to consultant status is fishy, too. It seems like they're afraid of a constructive dismissal claim (essentially, the argument that the PM's horrible behavior constitutes wrongful termination).
I'm not saying that you should sue them. That's not my decision to make, and for a 9-week job it's rarely worth it. Given that they already broke the law, you don't much to lose, and there is something to gain, by getting an attorney involved. If nothing else, it'll make that horrible PM look bad to his superiors, and that's a small win.
You won't get stock options, of course. Typical vesting is 4/1, meaning you get zero if you leave in the first year. I don't know why they even mentioned that. Almost no one gets stock options (for obvious, legitimate reasons) who worked at a place for 9 weeks.
Personally I would have snapped and handled that situation extremely poorly haha.