• Wednesday Grab Bag

    By • Sep 3rd, 2008 • Category: Pure Content


    It was a very languorous start to the week for me after a nice, long, gorgeous weekend. Although traffic to the blog  is still strong, as a result primarily of the Deloitte “layoff” actions, I was busy with some client work and didn’t write a new post yesterday. 

    I did post twice on Labor Day, so take a look at those. I hope you enjoy both.

    I do have something in the works on XBRL, but right now it’s not moving me… Too much going on with hurricanes, conventions, Deloitte and other business activities in the background to pull something out of a hat on that one yet. So today’s post will be a mixed bag of news and views.

    First, a summary of some of my comments to my Deloitte post on Friday. After a long week of activity, with Deloitters slowly coming to the realization that cuts were happening, my Friday post blew the top off and has generated over 50 comments so far. They kept coming over the Labor Day weekend, so I kept Blackberry close while at the lake so I could get comments and additional information to you on a timely baiss.

    I made a few comments during this time and I’d like to repeat them here.

    First, regarding the use of the term “layoff”:

    Actually, “layoff” is a term that was traditionally used to refer to members of the trades, manufacturing, unionized production workers who were on “layoff” because of seasonal or, hopefully, temporary slowdowns in production. Theoretically, you could get called back to the job when economic conditions improved. Unfortunately, the term is now used liberally and often refers to those terminated or otherwise let go, involuntarily, for any number of reasons,) en masse, with no recourse due to at-will employment laws.

    Second,  how this story broke and when we would see more traditional media reporting of it:

    It’s a matter of pride but:

    I broke this story originally. Last Monday the 25th

    The Dow Jones /WSJ story did not appear until later in the week, after they called the Deloitte PR person for a statement. This was due to my blog post and the other reports that started to surface on the Internet as people realized what was going on.

    I have spoke to that DJ/WSJ reporter and he is very interested in the people who have not been treated fairly, including those pregnant and H1B visa holders. I think you will see more press on this.

    And then, a reaction to some that said that many were focusing too much on pregnant employees and visa holders who were let go. Everyone suffers in this situation, including those left behind.

    It’s an unfortunate situation for everyone involved. In particular,  any legitimate “performance” issues should be dealt with as they occur and not in periodic cuts that confuse the issues.  I am never against making sure people move on when there’s a performance issue or when there’s not a fit.   But even those situations have to be handled correctly and with compassion.

    I mention the pregnant employees and visa holders (and any that were cut while on disability, for example,) because an employer has special legal obligations in those cases, over and above the typical ones, which are minimal in an “at will” employment situation. 


    Big global companies, such as the Big 4, sometimes forget about those when big numbers of cuts occurs.  And employees who don’t know their rights or have no time to ensure they are addressed are at a serious disadvantage. 

    “Sign this release or you don’t get your severance” and you find you have signed away any rights to sue, file a claim with state department of labor or EEO, or to insure all the right steps are followed.  If you are in a special situation such as pregnant, on disability, over 40, a woman, minority, or any and all of the above, don’t sign anything without having a lawyer read it.  If you need a recommendation for one to consult with, let me know.

    And..

    Yes, over 40 has special conditions. And if yo sign something you still have opp for lawyer review and to rescind it.

    Special conditions? Get a lawyer. Only by exerting your rights and expectations for them to act in “good faith” can you protect rights. There is nothing unprofessional or wrong about forcing a company to follow the law.

    **************************

    On another subject…

    I have asked, via Twitter, for you to sign up for the re: The Auditors Group on Linked In. This blog has several hundred email subscribers and a factor of five more who subscribe via an RSS feed to a reader. Non-email subscribers are anonymous to me. For many of you, that’s the point. But, hopefully, you can see in the way I have handled everything else, that I respect your privacy, your confidentiality and your right not to receive spam.

    I would like to build the Linked In group for a few reasons:

    1) It will be a wonderful vehicle for me when the book comes out. I plan to communicate via all means, Facebook (yes, I now have a Facebook profile!) via the blog, and via the Linked In group.

    2) Linked In now has the ability to manage discussions. This forum can also be used to connect with other professionals that share your interest in these topics.

    3) It’s a way for all of us to use the Linked In tool more fully.

    As I am writing this, I am realizing that these things may also grow and develop over time as I change the blog format and structure. The blog will be two years old in October, and I plan to move off the Blogger platform soon. I want to have more flexibility to add and change components of the site, to integrate it with my firm’s site, and to add more services.   The forums may shift to the new site or thay can stay on Linked In if that’s working.  We’ll see. 

    One things I have learned during this experience is to be flexible. The tools and technology are constantly changing and there are plenty of folks out there now to give me advice and guidance.

    Finally, speaking of folks who have been there and done that… I met Chris Brogan while in Boston a few weeks ago. When it comes to the Social Media environment, he’s regarded as a guru, but he’s really just a very smart, very nice guy.

    He has a post today about blogging in the corporate environment that I read very carefully and made a comment on. Take a look if you are remotely interested in the form, the medium, the tool, or how I view it all.

    ********************************

    Finally, finally…

    “fm after dark” is found on Twitter. Go there if you want to read my thoughts on subjects other than Big 4.

    is
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    4 Responses »

    1. Want to know something really silly? I didn’t know today was Wednesday until I read your post. How’s that for being informative? : )

      Thanks for the shout out. I’m so wary of the word “guru,” so I’m grateful that you’ve revealed the truth. I’m just some guy. Truly.

      I’m grateful for our brief meeting. I’ll look you up next time I’m flapping my wings through your town.

    2. Francine:
      I wonder if the PCAOB ever investigates “layoffs” in its firm reviews to ensure they are not used as “cover” to get rid of anyone questioning Big 87654 malfeasance or misfeasance. Or for any other improper purpose. Would the PCAOB say it is “against the rules” to ask an employee to sign the documents mentioned? If not, why not? I’ll bet.
      PCAOB, bah humbug!

    3. Francine, check out this site

      http://www.jobvent.com/companyBrowse.php?CompanyID=1423

      more people at Deloitte venting about their jobs …

    4. @IA: interesting proposition. I find around here people who challenge their superiors from a junior position are actually lauded for being ballsy (not to mention correct).

      Still, I know for a secondhand fact the culture we enjoy here isn’t universal, so some sort of looking-into-things may be in order.

      I suspect, however, that in the scenario you posit it’s more likely people will quit in disgust or just suck it up and ignore it rather than be pushed out.

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