WWYD? Former employer contacting me ~Updated~ — The Bump
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WWYD? Former employer contacting me ~Updated~

Hi, remember me?

Sorry this is long...

In case you aren't familiar, long story short, I was an Executive Assistant at my last job for almost 3 years.  I loved working there, it was a very fun job and really suited my personality.  I was never written up or verbally warned about anything.  My boss and I had a great working relationship.  During the time that I worked there, I became friends with the HR girl.  HR girl was really close buds with my immediate boss, and the 3 of us would often get lunch together, and HR girl and I would get lunch together about twice a month.  We hung out a few times outside of work, but were definetly more "work friends" than "real friends".

About a month ago we went on an offsite meeting, and I took notes during our group discussions.  I took about 20 pages of notes, and was going to type them up, organize, and send out to the group when we got back from the trip.

Then I was really really sick and missed a few days of work, and when I went back in, my Boss and the HR girl pulled me in and fired me.  No real reason given, I had no warning whatsoever, and was definetly not thinking that they were planning to let me go, at all.  They gave me a severance, and we don't "need" my salary to live, so financially it's not a huge hit to us.  But, honestly, I'm pissed off about it.  I made a great salary and we were paying a lot extra to our mortgage to pay it off early so we can move, and now we can't do that until I start working again (and I'm going to take the summer off, at least.)  Plus after we paid the mortgage down we were going to lease a convertible, we had already started picking out what we wanted, etc.  Can't afford that on only DH's salary.

During the meeting, my HR girl was crying.  After I signed the termination paperwork, she said "I hope this doesn't affect our friendship, blah blah, care about you, blah blah", and it seemed genuine.  She asked if we could meet for lunch and I said "sure"and then "oh, and I have the off-site notes, I'll bring those to lunch"...

The next day, I asked her if I could list her as a reference on my resume.  She texted me back "if it doesn't have anything to do with your work, we aren't allowed to".  I wrote her that it would be a character reference more than anything else, and she replied "I better not".

The next night DH and I went to dinner and he said "I don't want you to be friends with HR girl anymore, I don't trust her, and it was really shady that she didn't give you any warning about being fired, and that she won't be a reference for you."  Keep in mind, DH has never (in 8 years) ever told me not to be friends with someone before.

Well a week later she texted me "when can we get lunch" and i hemmed and hawed internally about it, but wrote her back and said "how about next tuesday".  Then Monday afternoon I found out I had a conflict, and texted her to cancel.  She wrote me write back and said "that is ok.  I was going to have to cancel anyway because baby has a doc appt".

I was pretty pissed...so you already knew you were going to cancel, when were you going to let me know??  Anyway.  That was last week.

So this morning she texts me "when are we going to get lunch??" and I was running errands so didn't write her back.  So about 5:00 she texts me "can I pick up the notes from the offsite meeting tomorrow?  If you aren't going to be home you can just leave them on your front porch or something.  Boss keeps asking about them."

So, now I feel like the only reason she even wanted to get lunch was to get those stupid offsite notes.  And I'm PISSED about it.

Part of me is like "well maybe Boss should have thought of that before he fired me for no effing reason.  And HR girl should have said that she would be a reference for me, we've been friends for 3 years...fuuck them."

And the other part of me says "I have the notes in my hallway closet, it would take me less than a minute to put them on the front porch" and be the bigger person about the whole thing.  Stay classy and all that jazz.

So, WWYD.

******Update: I just talked to DH about it, and I'm going to text her in the morning "the notes are on my front porch" and then that will be the end of it...I'm not going to pursue a friendship with her at all anymore, and it's the right thing to do to give them their notes.

Thanks everyone for your thoughts!!  Feel free to still weigh in!

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Re: WWYD? Former employer contacting me ~Updated~

  • JLS0320JLS0320 member
    What a weird situation. I don't understand why she can't be a reference for you, whether it be personal or professional, makes zero sense to me. As far as the notes go, I am a b!tch and would tell her I threw them in the trash....oops! :) I can't believe they would expect you to help them after they fired you, that takes nerve.
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  • I think this is a lot of silly drama. Give them the notes or don't, but texting people who fired you should stop.

     

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  • imageJLS0320:
    What a weird situation. I don't understand why she can't be a reference for you, whether it be personal or professional, makes zero sense to me. As far as the notes go, I am a b!tch and would tell her I threw them in the trash....oops! :) I can't believe they would expect you to help them after they fired you, that takes nerve.

    That's exactly how I feel, it's just so strange to me...we travelled to our offsite together, it was a 3 hour car trip, and she had to know that my boss was planning to fire me a week later...and I don't understand why she won't be a reference for me, just strange.

    I just talked to my other friend that does HR at another company and asked her how I should reply to the text and she said I should say "you terminated my employment on may 3rd, so...I'm not going to help you with work stuff."

    Lol.  And she couldn't believe that I was even thinking about giving the notes to her.

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  • imagejenny1980:

    I think this is a lot of silly drama. Give them the notes or don't, but texting people who fired you should stop.

     

    Did you read what I wrote?  The only time I've texted her was to ask if she'd be a reference, and then responding to her when she asked me to lunch.  It's not like I'm trying to be her BFF or something.

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  • imageThe_Jen626:

    imageJLS0320:
    What a weird situation. I don't understand why she can't be a reference for you, whether it be personal or professional, makes zero sense to me. As far as the notes go, I am a b!tch and would tell her I threw them in the trash....oops! :) I can't believe they would expect you to help them after they fired you, that takes nerve.

    That's exactly how I feel, it's just so strange to me...we travelled to our offsite together, it was a 3 hour car trip, and she had to know that my boss was planning to fire me a week later...and I don't understand why she won't be a reference for me, just strange.

    I just talked to my other friend that does HR at another company and asked her how I should reply to the text and she said I should say "you terminated my employment on may 3rd, so...I'm not going to help you with work stuff."

    Lol.  And she couldn't believe that I was even thinking about giving the notes to her.

    I think this is all terrible advice.

    First, she probably really CAN'T act as a reference.  I know in my line of business there is a very strict policy that says all the HR department can do is confirm the dates of your employment.  I think that's pretty standard in a lot of industries.  Girl might need her job, and needs to follow company policy in order to keep it.  That same reasoning pretty easily justifies why she wouldn't have told you confidential information about your termination before she was allowed to do so.

    Second, those notes are company work product produced while you were an employee.  They don't belong to you and need to be returned to the company, same as if a company laptop happened to be in your hall closet on your last day of employment.  She's allowed to ask for them, and you don't need to act like you're doing her a big favor by putting them on the porch.

    Third, doing anything retaliatory like telling her you won't return company work product is just dumb dumb dumb if you plan on working again, ever.  You know, don't burn bridges and all that.  (And I know, you weren't planning on doing it, it's just what your friend suggested.  Still, your friend sounds like a 19 year old).  

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  • imageThe_Jen626:
    imagejenny1980:

    I think this is a lot of silly drama. Give them the notes or don't, but texting people who fired you should stop.

     

    Did you read what I wrote?  The only time I've texted her was to ask if she'd be a reference, and then responding to her when she asked me to lunch.  It's not like I'm trying to be her BFF or something.

      Yes, I did. And it sounds like a lot of drama for a work situation. I'm not sure why you were texting about going out to lunch at all. She fired you.

    I would respond as your friend advised. You don't owe her the notes.

     

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  • imagejenny1980:
    imageThe_Jen626:
    imagejenny1980:

    I think this is a lot of silly drama. Give them the notes or don't, but texting people who fired you should stop.

     

    Did you read what I wrote?  The only time I've texted her was to ask if she'd be a reference, and then responding to her when she asked me to lunch.  It's not like I'm trying to be her BFF or something.

      Yes, I did. And it sounds like a lot of drama for a work situation. I'm not sure why you were texting about going out to lunch at all. She fired you.

    I would respond as your friend advised. You don't owe her the notes.

     

    Like I said in my OP, we've been "work friends" for 3 years.  So when she initiated getting lunch, my first instinct was "sure, sounds fun".

    I'm leaning towards not even replying to her texts anymore.  I just don't want it to portray me in a bad light, ya know?  Is it going to seem petty or unprofessional if I don't give her the notes? (Although, it's not like it really matters...they already fired me...)

    I just tend to be a people pleaser...it's hard for me to say no.

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  • Personally, I would have mailed the notes and tried to keep things professional to the point of aloofness. But I can promise you that my first thought wouldn't be "oh fun" if someone who had just fired me asked me to lunch.

    It all sounds really enmeshed. I have close friendships with the people I work with, but there are certain boundaries that need to be maintained with supervisors & HR people imo.

     

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  • imageIblamethebeer:
    imageThe_Jen626:

    imageJLS0320:
    What a weird situation. I don't understand why she can't be a reference for you, whether it be personal or professional, makes zero sense to me. As far as the notes go, I am a b!tch and would tell her I threw them in the trash....oops! :) I can't believe they would expect you to help them after they fired you, that takes nerve.

    That's exactly how I feel, it's just so strange to me...we travelled to our offsite together, it was a 3 hour car trip, and she had to know that my boss was planning to fire me a week later...and I don't understand why she won't be a reference for me, just strange.

    I just talked to my other friend that does HR at another company and asked her how I should reply to the text and she said I should say "you terminated my employment on may 3rd, so...I'm not going to help you with work stuff."

    Lol.  And she couldn't believe that I was even thinking about giving the notes to her.

    I think this is all terrible advice.

    First, she probably really CAN'T act as a reference.  I know in my line of business there is a very strict policy that says all the HR department can do is confirm the dates of your employment.  I think that's pretty standard in a lot of industries.  Girl might need her job, and needs to follow company policy in order to keep it.  That same reasoning pretty easily justifies why she wouldn't have told you confidential information about your termination before she was allowed to do so.

    Second, those notes are company work product produced while you were an employee.  They don't belong to you and need to be returned to the company, same as if a company laptop happened to be in your hall closet on your last day of employment.  She's allowed to ask for them, and you don't need to act like you're doing her a big favor by putting them on the porch.

    Third, doing anything retaliatory like telling her you won't return company work product is just dumb dumb dumb if you plan on working again, ever.  You know, don't burn bridges and all that.  (And I know, you weren't planning on doing it, it's just what your friend suggested.  Still, your friend sounds like a 19 year old).  

    Obviously, I'm not going to be rude to her, at all.  I understand why she couldn't let me know I was going to be fired...just sucks that I was never warned at ALL in 3 years time, they never told me they were unhappy, so it was just a total shock.

    Re: the notes... I dunno, I kind of feel like they were my own personal meeting notes, ya know?  I already signed the severance agreement and gave them my iphone, laptop, ID badges, etc.

    I really can't decide what to do.  So you think I should text her back and say "the notes are on my porch" and then be done with her?  I'm not trying to hold the notes hostage, I honestly forgot about them until she mentioned them tonight.  My feelings are just hurt because now I feel like that's the only reason she wanted to get lunch, was to get the notes, not to continue the friendship.

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  • imagejenny1980:

    Personally, I would have mailed the notes and tried to keep things professional to the point of aloofness. But I can promise you that my first thought wouldn't be "oh fun" if someone who had just fired me asked me to lunch.

    It all sounds really enmeshed. I have close friendships with the people I work with, but there are certain boundaries that need to be maintained with supervisors & HR people imo.

     

    It was ridiculously enmeshed.  I worked on a small team of 18 people, and we all would travel together, get really drunk at dinner, the guys would stay out all night and go to a strip club, etc.  There was a whole lot of innapropriateness in that work environment, it was similar to working at a construction office or something, mostly men, very "good ole boy" industry. There were no proper boundaries between HR and the rest of us...HR girl was often the one telling the raunchiest jokes.  Honestly, we were the only late 20s women in our group, that's what first drew us together.

    I forgot I even had the notes until today when she asked for them.  I cleaned off my desk that day and put the box in my hall closet and haven't looked at it since.

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  • Text her that the notes are on the porch.  That ends your work interactions.

    Then see if she contacts you again and wants to go to lunch -- if she does, you'll know the notes weren't the only reason she wanted to see you.

    Notes you take on work time at an off-site work meeting are not personal property.

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  • I'd just mail the notes to her and break off all contact. The whole situation is just strange.
  • imageThe_Jen626:

    Re: the notes... I dunno, I kind of feel like they were my own personal meeting notes, ya know? 

    ......

    My feelings are just hurt because now I feel like that's the only reason she wanted to get lunch, was to get the notes, not to continue the friendship.

    Ultimately, I totally agree w/ Iblamethebeer. 

    To the above- why did you take the notes?  Did you just do it on your own w/o telling anyone until you were done?  If so- then sure, I might say they belong to you.

    But if you were asked, or if you said before hand "I'll take notes", then I fully believe they aren't "yours".  If they knew you were going to take notes before hand, then they didn't need to ask anyone else to do it.  They were expecting to get them from you.

    As for your feelings - sure, I can understand why you're feelings are hurt, but take this all as a huge lesson.  I used to work in an environment where everyone was in their 20's and there were a LOT of lines crossed.  And a lot of "friendships" that ended once people stopped working together. 

    I personally am very careful about who I become friends with and while I have friends from my past jobs that I really do consider friends, I realize that more times than not, "work" friendships usually end was the "work" is no longer in the equation.  So I'm careful, I don't get too invested in people, and if once the "work" is gone, if we still continue to be friends - I see it as a bonus!

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  • Lurker chiming in..  My DH unexpectedly lost his job last week as well under "strange" circumstances.  In one week it has gone from "hmm"-strange to lawyers, threats, a state investigation and so on. I can't even begin to tell you the nightmare it is. I think you should return the notes and cease all contact with them asap. I think you should return the notes for two reasons. First, they are a part of your work product while you were employed, and second, upon your termination you said you would provide them to the HR/boss. It shows you have good character to follow through with your word even in an unfavorable situation. However, I would not just leave them on the porch for funny-acting HR girl to pick up. I would mail them to the boss certified signed receipt.  That way there is no doubt that he received them.  I don't think HR girl is much of a friend at all, and I would not have any further communication with her nor entrust the notes to her.  Enjoy your summer off and best wishes finding your next job.

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  • Return the notes by mail, as pp said.  They are company work product, not yours.  This might just be me, but I wouldn't use an HR person for a reference anyway.  I would use a former boss or colleague...someone who could attest to my work and personality on a daily basis.   Do employers even call references anymore?  There is so much liability these days, people aren't allowed to say anything negative and basically just confirm employment and salary history.
     
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  • that whole situation sounds hokey - and the HR girl sounds like an idiot, very junior person.

    I don't particularly blame her not warning you about getting terminated - she may not have known and even if she did, how would she tell you?

    I would just mail the notes to them and be done with it.

    Also - lots of people who aren't "supposed" to be references do it anyway b/c we all know that you actually do need references - so that's just weird and suspicious that she won't be a reference for you.

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  • Good for you for leaving the notes.  Despite her not being a reference, you really don't want to burn bridges-- you never know when your paths may cross again.

    Also, I really don't think you can expect her to give you a heads up or warning that you were about to be fired.  She could get in A LOT of trouble for that, and honestly, I wouldn't expect that, even from my work BFF.  Though, she could have been a lot nicer about it AFTER it happened. 

    Enjoy your summer!  Something fab will come along again!

  • I would absolutely mail them certified directly to the boss. And no longer engage in any sort of relationship w hr lady. Sorry that you lost your job, hope you find something you love!
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  • It is common that HR (or any managers really) are not allowed to provide references for employees regardless of how they left the company.  It's a liability thing and bottom line is it's safer not to do it at all.

    As for her not giving you a heads up - she really couldn't.  Confidentiality is everything in HR.  I had this exact situation happen to me a few years ago.  I knew that at co-worker (someone I had lunch with almost daily) was getting laid off.  I absolutely could not say anything and felt terrible about it.  The lesson I learned was not to pursue friendships with employees outside of HR.  It sucks but that's life in HR.

    The notes - I would stick them in the mail and be done with it.  Taking the high road is difficult but better in the long run.

    You probably will never know why you were fired.  Is it fair?  No.  Does it suck? Yes.  But I think it would be best to cut ties and move on.

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  • I would tell her my dog ate the notes and stop responding to her texts.  She isn't dealing with this in the right way - it seems shady and you don't deserve it.  Time to move on! 
  • KarBearKarBear member
    I think I replied in your pp that I had been laid off to a few months ago, and I totally understand your thought process of "screw them."  It's hard to be professional and the bigger person, but you need to just return the notes and cut off contact.
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  • I don't see how notes you took at a meeting are property of your old company.  If they truly believed that, then they would have asked for them before you left and made it a part of your agreement just like a computer, blackberry, etc.  I'm sure they will survive without them.  It was a company offsite meeting, not client information or something like that.  If you are feeling really nice, drop them in the mail to your former supervisor.  If not, then just stop responding to the HR girl.  Once they fired you, none of this is your responsibility any more. 

  • Regarding her not wanting to be a reference, some companies don't allow employees to be references for legal reasons.  If that is the case I can understand why orginally she thought it would be okay to be a character reference and then took it back because it may put her in an awkward position.  That is the only piece of her behavior I can justify.

  • imageThe_Jen626:
    imagejenny1980:

    Personally, I would have mailed the notes and tried to keep things professional to the point of aloofness. But I can promise you that my first thought wouldn't be "oh fun" if someone who had just fired me asked me to lunch.

    It all sounds really enmeshed. I have close friendships with the people I work with, but there are certain boundaries that need to be maintained with supervisors & HR people imo.

     

    It was ridiculously enmeshed.  I worked on a small team of 18 people, and we all would travel together, get really drunk at dinner, the guys would stay out all night and go to a strip club, etc.  There was a whole lot of innapropriateness in that work environment, it was similar to working at a construction office or something, mostly men, very "good ole boy" industry. There were no proper boundaries between HR and the rest of us...HR girl was often the one telling the raunchiest jokes.  Honestly, we were the only late 20s women in our group, that's what first drew us together.

    I forgot I even had the notes until today when she asked for them.  I cleaned off my desk that day and put the box in my hall closet and haven't looked at it since.

    I think you're better off not working at a place like this.  Boundaries exist between co-workers for a reason.  This is absurd.

     

  • I didn't read the other replies however

    1. MOST work places do not allow people to be references for employess. Even personal/character witnesses- so I don't really find that out of place.

    2. You should not have offered to bring notes with you to lunch in the first place- and I would NOT be offering them- nor would I go to lunch with her.

     

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