By Michaela Rizk, The Associated PressWASHINGTON — “What I wanted to know was how you were feeling, How you felt about being laid off,” is a question the human resources director of an engineering company says she gets asked daily.
Her boss wants to know how her colleagues are feeling, and she wants to make sure she’s feeling better.
The employee who answered her questions about the human resource department at a company she works for had a question for the chief executive officer of a private-equity firm: How did you feel being laid-off?
She told the chief executives of the companies she works with, including two large publicly traded ones, that she felt it was time to move on.
She was referring to the possibility that they would lay off her boss and take over the job.
“What I was trying to get at is, you’ve been here for a while.
You’re very, very experienced, and you have a lot of respect for the company and the organization.
But I’ve had enough, and I want you to know I’m not done with you,” the woman told her bosses.
A spokeswoman for the firm that hired her says she was joking and didn’t intend any harm.
She says the company is “still deeply committed to the human capital that exists in our company and its people.”
She says the CEO had no reason to fear for her job or her life.
“There’s a reason that I’m here,” she said.
The CEO did not respond to an interview request.
The chief executives were not happy with the employee’s response.
“She’s been doing this for 15 years and she’s never been fired, but the company didn’t like that, and they fired her,” said Lisa Storz, president of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
The spokeswoman said the employee was suspended from her job and was not fired.
But the company’s human resources department told the AP it was terminated.
The chief executives have until Jan. 31 to appeal the decision.
The AP is not naming the employees because the person’s job title has not been released.
Storz says there are a number of reasons for layoffs in a company, including people leaving for different reasons.
“The chief executive is a highly visible person who is able to get an agenda through, but it’s not necessarily the right person to be in charge of the human portfolio,” she says.
Employees also are often asked how they’re feeling about being let go or to be replaced.
“I’ve seen people who are fired because they don’t like their boss or because they are sick,” Storzer says.
“If you want to find out how people are feeling in your position, ask them.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it in the past 15 years,” she adds.
The spokeswoman says her company doesn’t have any human resources specialists in the U.S. but has an international division that is looking for one.
The company that hired the woman has been told to “take it slow” and wait to hear what happens to her.
“We don’t have a specific number of people who will be laid off, but we’re definitely looking for someone to step in and take care of those people who might need help,” she told the company.
The human resources spokeswoman said that since the human assets department was laid off last year, it has been “looking for a replacement for some time.”
The chief of the U-M engineering department is on a 10-year contract that includes about $1 million a year in base salary and a $500,000 bonus.
He’s not being paid at the $200,000 base salary that the human asset department receives and that the company gets.
He said that when he was hired, he thought he’d be taking a $250,000 salary and getting $500 a month.
“But after two years, I realized that I had to be able to afford to live comfortably on that,” he said.
“When you’ve got to start looking for a way to make a living, it’s a difficult decision.”
He said the job he’s doing now is different from what he thought it would be.
“It’s a lot more demanding, and it’s really hard.
And I think that I’ve made some great friends and made some good friends that are in positions of power.”
Storzer also said that some employees in her company are considering leaving.
“But it’s definitely something we’re trying to think about, and we’re going to talk to them about that.”
Follow AP reporter Melissa Burden at twitter.com/mattburden and facebook.com.