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Anatomy of a Layoff

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It seems my background check, part of my new-hire process, has pulled up some flags. My postings here on DealBreaker will, therefore, not appear in my name. Whoever that woman in the back office is, she won't add my name to the system until the little issue with the FBI is resolved, so in the meantime I'll just have to make do with this somewhat crippled account.
The great binge-purge cycle of investment bank human resources has drawn, it seems, into its second half. (Maybe we laid off completed a headcount reduction in our IT group this week and no one told me). Be that as it may, I happened across a recent victim of the vomitous expulsion of bankers onto the porcelain sidewalks of Wall Street, and took some time to interrogateinterview the poor soul.
10:49:58 AM equityprivate: I've always been curious about this big bank layoffs and the process. How did you find out? Was it a "pink slip" literally or what?
10:51:27 AM FormerBBEmployee: They call you into a private area, away from where you normally work, and explain what's happened. As for the pink slip, not at all. It's a packet of information that details what you get for being canned.
10:52:26 AM equityprivate: A packet? Like the reverse of a "New Hire" packet? What's in it?
10:53:08 AM FormerBBEmployee: Actually, it is similar to a new hire packet. It goes into what money they owe you, benefits, contacts in H.R. ... Of course, there is no mention of anything being "at will" ...
10:53:44 AM equityprivate: So, there is a... what... printout of what the bank thinks it owes you?
10:54:26 AM FormerBBEmployee: Even better. A legal document they want you to sign. It says what you get, what you get if you sign, and what you were getting.
10:54:49 AM equityprivate: That's insidious.
(See the rest after the jump)

10:54:59 AM FormerBBEmployee: I asked if they had any room in their numbers... no one laughed.
10:55:28 AM equityprivate: So how is that phrased exactly? "Payout if firing candidate signs: $3.42. Payout if firing candidate refuses to sign: $1.22" ?
10:55:29 AM equityprivate: ?
10:56:21 AM FormerBBEmployee: Not sure of the exact phrasing, but it's essentially what they owe you and what you, additionally, get. Oh, and your numbers are too high.
10:58:38 AM equityprivate: What you, additionally get... if you sign...?
10:58:47 AM FormerBBEmployee: Exactly. The term they use is entitled and non-entitled...
11:01:01 AM equityprivate: I see. So did you end up being... entitled?
11:01:31 AM FormerBBEmployee: Other than my pervading sense of entitlement? They don't make you sign on the spot.
11:01:44 AM equityprivate: How long do you have?
11:02:35 AM FormerBBEmployee: I'm not sure. It's in the document. I was too busy staring at the HR lady to be honest. Is it sexual harassment when you're being terminated... (Note to self, research case law.)
11:03:26 AM equityprivate: Definitely not. Did you cop a feel on your way out?
11:03:56 AM FormerBBEmployee: That's an inappropriate question. Although, I would brag if I did.
11:04:52 AM equityprivate: Sorry, you're right. I'm new at this. So was security waiting for you when you got back to your desk?
11:05:22 AM FormerBBEmployee: I didn't go back to my desk.
11:05:32 AM equityprivate: No?
11:05:53 AM FormerBBEmployee: Nope.
11:06:41 AM equityprivate: They escorted you out in handcuffs? They did the Perp-Walk, didn't they?
11:07:01 AM FormerBBEmployee: Not at first... it literally took twenty minutes of pleading.
11:07:24 AM equityprivate: How did you get your "personal effects" then?
11:07:50 AM FormerBBEmployee: Ahhhh... well, as a savvy, resourceful employee with a high innate intelligence, when one learns of impending layoffs, one prepares.
11:07:54 AM equityprivate: You mean by, for instance, you might spend several days clandestinely taking things home, removing critical papers, erasing your browsing history and your cookies, replacing the 15 branded pens you stole from a recruiting event at a competing institution, concealing evidence of... well anyhow, that sort of thing. Where did you take your personal effects?
11:07:58 AM FormerBBEmployee: They are still there.
11:08:01 AM equityprivate: But, you said the savvy... all right, never mind. You left your things there?
11:08:04 AM FormerBBEmployee: They are still there.
11:10:01 AM equityprivate: Wow. Anything embarrassing? Bath and Body hand cream? Vanilla Slim-Fast shakes?
11:11:52 AM FormerBBEmployee: Actually, had I been intelligent about it, I would have put all items that would have made people wonder. Like a book entitled, "Now that your P.I. has got pictures of your boss doing illegal and disgusting things, what's next?" ... or a dead pet of some variety. Perhaps a single human bone...
11:11:59 AM equityprivate: Uh huh. Great.
11:12:33 AM FormerBBEmployee: But, mainly, just some uneaten food.
11:17:59 AM equityprivate: So how did you get "called in" ? Voicemail? Runner? Telegram?
11:18:24 AM FormerBBEmployee: Phone call, actually.
11:18:57 AM equityprivate: So walk me through that. How do you answer your phone? Who was it? What did they say?
11:20:07 AM FormerBBEmployee: Well, they identify themselves, ensure it's the person they are calling for, and ask you to come to a specific room. It’s a senior person. Depending on who is being called in, they may or may not be your direct boss. Could be someone higher ... especially if your direct boss got a call a few minutes earlier.
11:21:48 AM equityprivate: "MIS-ter Anderson... Room 101" ?
11:22:18 AM FormerBBEmployee: Essentially...
11:23:35 AM equityprivate: But there's only one person in the room?
11:24:49 AM FormerBBEmployee: Well, and HR... it depends on the department, but I think they prefer to have your boss and his boss in there, and HR
11:25:03 AM equityprivate: But it's not just one person.
11:25:17 AM FormerBBEmployee: No.
11:25:22 AM FormerBBEmployee: I could have taken just one person...
11:25:49 AM FormerBBEmployee: And, most likely, that's their thought too.
11:25:49 AM equityprivate: If it was just one person, would you have been tempted to accuse them of offering to save your job in exchange for oral sex?
11:27:01 AM FormerBBEmployee: Why would they save my job if they gave me oral sex? Sounds more like severance than a bribe.
11:27:26 AM equityprivate: I meant that you'd give the... oh never mind.
11:27:42 AM FormerBBEmployee: Wait, I'd offer to stay if they gave me oral sex?
11:27:46 AM FormerBBEmployee: That was an option?
11:27:55 AM equityprivate: Uh, let's move on, shall we?
11:28:08 AM equityprivate: So were people, your co-workers, sympathetic? I mean, they see you get called into Room 101, they must know what the story is, right?
11:28:33 AM FormerBBEmployee: They were kind of shocked.
11:28:41 AM FormerBBEmployee: Especially the women... I was the eye candy.
11:29:11 AM FormerBBEmployee: Wait, can I lie in this interview?
11:29:57 AM FormerBBEmployee: If so, I'd like to revise my answer...
11:30:13 AM equityprivate: Well, yes, I suppose.
11:30:40 AM FormerBBEmployee: Actually, I'll stay with my current answer, EP.
11:30:44 AM equityprivate: So the girls go for the recent layoff victim?
11:30:59 PM FormerBBEmployee: I would think so... pity angle and all that. Hey, whatever works. People blow up, get laid off, and start up a bigger operation that pays much better. They are trying to get in on the ground floor. To quote my friend in the cattle industry, "With enough beef, one can do anything."
11:31:05 PM equityprivate: Uh, right.
11:31:55 PM FormerBBEmployee: Look, when you've got a baby's arm (to borrow a phrase) and you wear tight enough pants, you can write your own ticket when it comes to the girls.
11:32:05 PM equityprivate: Ok, fine, but then how did you manage?
11:32:40 PM FormerBBEmployee: Cute.
11:33:41 AM equityprivate: Was there just this hanging cloud over the office? A pervasive sense of fear? The kind of fear that lurks, just barely out of sight, in the bowels of a Hell's Kitchen alley after midnight? A petrifying, paralyzing fear? The kind of fear you can... smell?
11:34:29 AM FormerBBEmployee: Yes. Minus the smell part.
11:37:07 AM equityprivate: So, be honest, did you ever get lost looking for the bathroom?
11:37:56 AM FormerBBEmployee: Not by accident.
11:38:22 AM equityprivate: Are you going to miss the constant run-ins with regulators?"
11:38:41 AM FormerBBEmployee: No.
11:38:48 AM equityprivate: The palpable, firm-wide feelings of inferiority whenever Jamie Dimon is mentioned?
11:38:52 AM FormerBBEmployee: No.
11:39:55 AM equityprivate: What are you going to miss the most?
11:40:56 AM FormerBBEmployee: Taking the afternoons off and ignoring my blackberry... ahhh... the bliss.
11:41:14 AM equityprivate: What will you miss least?
11:41:30 AM FormerBBEmployee: The rest, probably.
11:41:38 AM equityprivate: What sound do you love?
11:43:55 AM FormerBBEmployee: Well, you know the sound of a bunch of young, ambitious wall street employees sitting around laughing?
11:45:34 AM equityprivate: Yes?
11:45:58 AM FormerBBEmployee: I'll miss the sound they make after their M.D. comes out and says, "What... the FUCK... is THIS? HAPPY TIME? GET BACK TO FUCKING WORK!"
11:47:42 AM equityprivate: What sound do you hate?
11:48:21 AM FormerBBEmployee: The sound your computer makes when you receive a new email.... That's why I turned it off.
11:49:47 AM equityprivate: When did you know you were being let go? Not when did you fear it, but when was it clear? When the phone rang? When you were called into a room?
11:50:19 AM FormerBBEmployee: When I heard who was on the other end of the phone and where they wanted me to go...
11:51:34 AM equityprivate: What was that like?
11:52:31 AM FormerBBEmployee: It was actually calming. Not too bad.
11:54:45 AM equityprivate: So what's next for you?
11:56:06 AM FormerBBEmployee: I think I'm going to enjoy the day, go for a leisurely stroll, have a drink, and start looking for where MILFs hang out during the day...
11:57:31 AM equityprivate: And career wise?
11:57:42 AM FormerBBEmployee: Oh. Job search!
11:58:46 AM FormerBBEmployee: Don't tell Main St. this, but Wall St. is very incestuous... already people have given my name to headhunters and headhunters are seeing if I fit with one of their clients.
12:00:50 PM equityprivate: Is there anything I should have asked you that I didn't?
12:01:06 PM FormerBBEmployee: Not that's printable...
12:01:12 PM equityprivate: It’s DealBreaker. Everything is printable.
12:01:47 PM FormerBBEmployee: Well, then, not that I would answer, knowing it would be printed.
12:02:00 PM equityprivate: I can wait here all day, you know.
12:09:46 PM FormerBBEmployee: “Neat or with ice?”
12:10:00 PM equityprivate: Ok. Neat or with ice?
12:10:13 PM FormerBBEmployee: That’s a seriously STUPID question.
12:10:18 PM equityprivate: Yeah, I know.
12:10:21 PM FormerBBEmployee: Neat. Always.
Speculation as to the identity of the former employee's former employer will not be tolerated.
-- Equity Private is author of Going Private and a Guest Editor at


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