Worst Layoffs Ever? Employees Get The News Via Conference Call

French pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis is in a tetch of hot water after it laid off 1,700 US-based employees via conference call.

Huffington Post reporter Laura Bassett says that right after Thanksgiving, employees were e-mailed a phone number and a call-in time, with no other information. Turns out that the employees who called in at 8:00 a.m. were told that they were keeping their jobs, while the employees who called at 8:30 were given a speech saying that they were being canned and to stop working immediately. In addition, they weren’t allowed to ask any questions on the call, and a rep from a company hired by Sanofi-Aventis came by “almost immediately” to take back the company car one employee had been driving, even though she hadn’t had time to arrange for another vehicle.

What were they thinking? Well, writes Bassett:

Jack Cox, the senior director of media relations for Sanofi-Aventis, said the company acknowledges that its method of laying off employees “wasn’t ideal.”

“Rather than cascade these announcements and stretch the notifications over the course of days, we decided to address these colleagues at one time, to explain the rationale for the reductions and express appreciation for the contributions they’ve made to the organization,” he said. “We acknowledged in the call that delivering this news on a teleconference wasn’t ideal, but given the scope and scale of the reductions, there was no other way to share this news quickly and consistently.”