Once upon a time, it was considered poor etiquette to deliver bad news in any other way but in person, or at the very least, over the phone. You certainly wouldn’t, for example, expect to get a Post-It note from the boss telling you that you no longer had a job. But thanks to our ever-growing reliance on mobile technologies, it’s now possible for your boss to fire you without looking you straight in the eye, listening to your voice, or even putting pen to paper.
Juan Michael Porter II, a performer in New York, tells the Wall Street Journal that he was fired earlier this month — via text message.
“We hear about people breaking up in text messages, and we think that’s tacky, but to be fired, I just couldn’t believe it,” he says.
Porter isn’t the only person to be fired through SMS. The Journal reports that the owner of a restaurant in Winter Park, Fla. shuttered his business earlier this month, and notified his entire staff by text.
The Wall Street Journal notes that a few isolated incidents hardly constitute a trend — yet. However, it seems to us that as people grow more reliant on technology like texting and less comfortable with calling people up, it’s possible that we’ll see more of this sort of thing in the future.
In most places in the U.S., it’s not illegal to fire an employee via text, provided that all other terms of their contract are met. If you’re at at-will employee, for example, it’s perfectly legal for your employer to fire you at any time, for any reason. (Or none at all.)
Legalities aside, it’s obviously a pretty unprofessional way to do business. The only good news for you if you are fired over text is that you can console yourself with the fact that a manager who would terminate someone in that way probably wouldn’t have your best interests at heart.
Regardless of how you found out you were fired, remember that you have rights as a terminated employee. Don’t assume that you’re not eligible for unemployment or other benefits. Know what you’re owed, and move on with a sense of purpose.
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