A young woman’s complaints about how her company treated her when she gave her two-week notice has gone viral, being seen over 2.3 million times in three days.
The woman, identified only as “Sophia” posted a three-minute video to her TikTok account, @sophiazp5, on Monday. In the clip, she goes into detail about what happened when she told her bosses she was going to leave her position in two weeks.
“I was just publicly insulted in front of my whole team, by my upper management. I’ve never heard of anything happening like this in the corporate world ever,” Sophia says, opening her video.
She says that on October 21, she emailed a “very heartfelt, genuine” message to the CEO and COO of the company to give notice. She says that she worked for a small company so, not only did she know them, but she had seen them as mentors in her career. Sophia added that she’d specifically waited after the company’s busy time, and trained new people before giving her notice.
Though she thought she was leaving on good terms, the CEO and COO called her that day. She describes the conversation as having a “very condescending tone,” and they told her she needed to stay through the end of November—six more weeks instead of two. She declined to stay the extra month, and says that when she went to work the next day, she reiterated that she was only staying the two weeks.
That Monday, she says she didn’t hear anything from her bosses until she was called into a meeting that afternoon with her entire team—25 people.
“I was not given a heads-up about what this call was about. But I was nervous because why are they scheduling a random meeting in the middle of day? Well, the call was about me. It was the CEO and the COO creating narrative about why I’m leaving, which includes: I wasn’t a right fit, I couldn’t take the pressure. [They] proceeded to name people on the call that they know could replace me. [They] said that they’re happy that at this company, they can resolve things within five days. So I have five more days,” she said.
In some workplaces, tensions between management and labor are on the rise. One employee said he quit after one day because his bosses had lied to him during the interview. In another story, a boss was supported after one of her employees spied on her via social media.
Stephen Byars, the Professor of Clinical Management Communication at USC Marshall School of Business, spoke to Newsweek about the video. Byars said that, assuming Sophia’s story is accurate, the company was acting “deeply unethically,” but, depending on the state and the circumstances, they may not have acted illegally.
In many states, including California, where Byars lives, as long as there’s not a contract for a specific length of time—like the kind of contract a professional athlete or actor may have—either employer or employee can terminate the working relationship at will. And while giving two-week notice before leaving a job is common and generally considered good etiquette, there is no law in any state, nor at the federal level, requiring this.
But while it’s unlikely the company did anything illegal, Byars said it didn’t act in its best interests.
“In my opinion, the company’s behavior may not be illegal, but it is certainly unethical. And it is certainly poor employee relations. Even if there are no questions of ethics, it’s not a good way to manage a company,” Byars told Newsweek. “All it does is it inspires fear and resentment on the part of those other 25 employees or coworkers that were at the meeting, apparently, where she was singled out and embarrassed.
“It’s not a good look for management. And it’s not a good look for the company itself. But even beyond that, I think it’s injurious to try to encourage employee loyalty by singling out somebody like this. It’s ethically wrong, and it will not boost the image or the reputation of the company at all in a positive way,” he added.
When asked if, in Sophia’s position, he would even stay the full week after the meeting, he said that it would depend on if there were any projects with coworkers that needed finishing.
“She might ethically owe something to her coworkers not to leave a project she’s working on unfinished. But at the same time, the company’s leadership has acted deeply unethically in publicly airing the dispute with the worker,” he said. “But if none of that is in play, then I think I would be tempted to walk just to get up and leave. And I don’t think anyone could really blame an employee who did that, again, if all of the facts that she alleges took place.”
Though much has been made of the Great Resignation, where workers are leaving jobs in droves, Byars says that in many cases it’s driven by bad behavior on both sides.
“Good behavior between both management and employees has become very strained and very weakened. That is, I think that many managers have no sense of obligation to their employees. Unfortunately, I think many employees have the same perspective towards their managers,” Byars told Newsweek.
He says both management and labor owe each other—workers owe management their best performance, while management owes workers the same.
“When either side ignores that obligation, I think it doesn’t bode well for the workplace. it doesn’t make for a very good workplace. It’s not one that most of us would want to be part of, whether we’re management or employees,” Byars said. “I wish I had a way to instill more respect, you know, and more honest behavior between managers and their employees, and a duty to treat each other with respect. But I think it has to be earned company by company. And I think management has to take the first step.”
Newsweek reached out to Sophia for comment. We could not verify the details of this case.
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