Fla. Restaurant Owner Fires Workers En Masse By Text [UPDATE]
Waitress Jodi Jackson said in an interview with WFTV that at least a dozen employees learned about their job losses in the Orlando suburb via text message. The text message that Jackson received was brief and started like this:
Jodi, I unfortunately need to inform you that I have been forced to close Barducci's effective immediately.
Jackson had worked almost two years at the restaurant and got her termination message on July 4th. Call it an ironic form of independence celebration. "I think it's immoral," she told WFTV. "I think it's cowardice." Jackson alleges that her final paycheck still has not arrived and thinks that the other employees are also waiting on theirs.
Update 7/12/2013 4:47PM (The rest of the text read: Despite my efforts there were circumstances that I was not able to address. I wish you all the best and sincerely thank you for everything you have done. Any final payroll checks will be addressed after the accounting has been finalized.
Sometimes employers deliver bad news via email or text so as to avoid an emotional confrontation. It's not clear why Kennedy did, however. AOL Jobs tried to reach Kennedy through the restaurant Facebook page but has not heard back. When WFTV contacted Kennedy, he responded to them via a text message, too. It read:
The Barducci's Facebook page is still up without any indication that the restaurant has closed. The restaurant's webpage is similarly live and says that customers can order pizza online.
Unfortunately, businesses are forced to close across Orlando every day, especially in the restaurant sector. I am working to resolve issues including final paychecks as quickly as possible.
Being fired by a text message, sadly, is nothing new. In 2010, 900 truck drivers like Randy Dakin were left stranded on the road when Oklahoma-based Arrow Trucking Company reportedly shut down, cancelling fuel credit cards. The next day, the drivers got two text messages: one telling them they were fired and the second offering a bus ticket or $200 in cash to get home. Last September, Demos' restaurant in Florence, Ala. allegedly closed, texting nearly 65 employees not to show up for work. The owner reportedly planned to give employees two-weeks severance pay in addition to their final paychecks.
Experts warn managers not to fire by text. Although it might be necessary for a boss to fire remote workers via video conferencing or phone, the Society for Human Resource Management says delivering such news via email or text is "impersonal" and makes employees feel "disrespected" and could "provoke the terminated employee into some negative emotional reaction." In fact, some employees have fought back.
In 2010, on the day after Christmas, Sedina Sokolovic was fired via text for allegedly swapping shifts without permission and for being late to work at Sydney, Australia clothing store Modestie Boutique. Sokolovic, who had worked for the company for two years, responded by complaining to Australian authorities, which, in turn, fined Modestie close to $11,000 in US currency. The reason? According to an Australian official, it was a "pretty appalling" method of firing someone.
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Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman