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The Payroll administrator’s case

The dismissal

A single fifty-something woman had been given notice because of a reorganization. Her employer was a large international concern. She was the old-fashioned prototype of a loyal worker. She had worked for over 25 years in its payroll administration, but she had only 10 years’ seniority as at the request of her boss she had interrupted her employment for a two years’ period to manage the payroll administration of a charity, chaired by her boss. After the interruption, she had returned to her old job. She had to pay the price of her generosity as she was put on the list of dismissals because of her low seniority. She was frustrated that she had to hire a lawyer to defend herself against the company to which she had dedicated so many years of her life.

Due to the recession period, her chances of getting a new job were extremely poor.

 

The approach

Removal from the dismissal list

The central concern was: How to get this woman back to work? And there was the feeling: Was it not antisocial that her employer had not taken into account the 15 years period that she had worked for the employer before, and that the employer had not tried to find another job for her anywhere else within the group?

I assisted the woman in drafting a letter to her employer in which she emphasized her cooperative attitude to her employer throughout the years and her poor chances on the labour market. She requested to be removed from the dismissal list or to be relocated to a job elsewhere within the group. In her letter, she made a strong appeal to her employer’s moral feelings.

The employer delegated responding her letter to the lawyer who was in charge of the reorganization. He reported that there was no other job available for her and he asked her to call in a lawyer to defend her interests in the dismissal proceedings that he intended to start.

The woman was furious that her employer had had delegated the reply. That closed a door for her. She definitely did not want to go back to her old employer. But she was happy that she had tried to get her removed form the dismissal list.

 

The turnaround

While discussing the response to the lawyer’s letter, the idea came up that the woman could oppose the lawyer’s request to the woman to call in a lawyer to defend her case. That idea caught her heart immediately.

I wrote a text for a letter she could write:

"Dear Mr. X,

Thank you for your letter. I am very disappointed that my employer did not respond to my letter herself.

In your letter you requested me to hire a lawyer to defend my case.

I must say that it is contrary to my conscience to hire a lawyer against the company for which I’ve dedicated 25 years of my life with heart and soul. I am sorry that I cannot respond to your request.

Sincerely ...".

The woman was immediately enthusiastic. She felt strong with this text and she sent the letter promptly. The situation had allowed her to react in her unique way. She dared to send the letter because I had proposed the text.

She had taken a lead by telling what she stood for to both her employer and the lawyer. She was no longer a victim of her dismissal. The case had become an exciting play for her, in which she consciously chose her position.

 

The next step

The lawyer’s answer took a different tone. He urged her to consult a lawyer, because he was going to submit the proceedings to the judge.

Again we spoke about her response and together we came to the text:

"Dear Mr. X,

Given your repeated request to me on behalf of my employer to hire a lawyer, I will comply with it. As my employer is requiring this from me, I expect my employer will reimburse me for the costs involved.

I will ask the lawyer I will consult to contact you.

Yours sincerely...".

This response also strengthened the woman in her relationship with her employer and the lawyer. She knew how she wanted to deal with them in court and that she could rely on her own feelings. She had transformed the pressure of the dismissal into a new and exciting experience. Her powerful appearance was very useful in her job applications.

 

The court case and the outcome

The employer submitted the dismissal to the court. The judge had read the file with all the woman’s letters before the oral hearing took place. In the hearing he saw a strong woman in front of him who had fought for her case and who now left the decision to the judge with great confidence. As expected, the judge terminated the employment contract. But he granted the woman an exceptionally high severance payment, payable to her by the employer.

When I called the woman to inform her of the nice result, she came up with the message that she had just been hired as a payroll administrator at a health care institution.

Despite her poor prospects, this 50+ woman hadn’ even been unemployed for a single day.