I suddenly found myself in HR office this Wednesday in front of assembled top four bosses, faced with immediate dismissal. The story was that I supposedly yelled at a security guard and chased him around the lab - which I have not done - but they already had it all prepared nicely (you see, they investigated it quietly for almost three weeks and they kept the meeting secret to the last minute) and there they would not allow any facts get in a way of their neat story. They threatened and bullied - that I better shut up and sign the papers they are giving me to sign or they will fire me right there. Needles to say, the HR meeting did not go down too well but it became noticebly nicer towards the end, especially after the boss of the translational research institute screamed on top of his voice that he is in control of the entire budget and that I am messing with the wrong guy – and then stormed out. (He threatened to leave the meeting unless I apologize for saying that their story makes no sense - and I observed that it would be perhaps helpful if he could leave the meeting).
What they insisted on was that I must undergo anger management treatment with therapist of their own choosing and they handed me a consent form – to sign away all my confidentiality over to HR, and to confirm that this is actually an employer-mandated psychiatric treatment that I am taking voluntarily so that HR could receive regular status reports from my therapist.
I guess they just tried to find out if I have any interesting personal problems and see how I am struggling through with the help of their therapist – who would then send a nice summary to HR about my treatment plan and attendance and they would just add it in the file…
I knew that they were considering layoffs next January because of the funding problems and from their nastiness I figured out that this was a cute method to have me certified as a nut so as to not to have worry about wrongful dismissal case from me in the future. Bending over and taking it from both ends would only save me couple weeks at best. So I boxed up my stuff, loaded it in my car and wrote back that I can see someone if they insist but I am not signing away my shrink’s confidentiality over to HR. I also wrote that it was a fine inquisition meeting – and that they should check the facts because there are people who can easily confirm that the guard story is a fabrication and that I hope they will at least have the decency to clear my name with the same eagerness with witch they have now besmirched it.
The next day my e-mail client stopped working and the PC logged itself off. That gave a hint that I should probably head down to HR so I said the goodbyes to my colleagues, handed back my keys + keycard and it was over in a civil way within few minutes.
As to why this has been staged the way it happened, there are several reasons but I think the main one was that the people I worked for got from me all what they needed, my salary just got past six figure and they were faced the financial pressure to have someone let go - in our group the potdocs cannot find staff jobs anywhere (and are willing to survive on indefinite postdoc-ship often due to the visa situation). I have had complained too much about the people here being left intentionally off the publications and cheated from their co-authorship on patents. I have been with the institute from the beginnig, and I am not an easy person to put up with, over the five years they had plenty about me on file - so they thought they can easily make it look like it I am creating some serious trouble and therefore they had no other choice but to let me go…
The reason why I wrote down all this unpleasant story is to firsthand inform my colleagues and friends who are reading this page because I did not have the time to speak with everybody before leaving.