Thread regarding Cengage layoffs

“You don’t have the skill set for this position.”

I have two friends who were let go and both were given this exact reason for termination from HR. Interestingly they were both long-term employees. This line appears to be HR’s go-to line for blanket termination.

If it were me I would want to drill down by asking “Specifically what skills are you referring to?” and “If this is true then why wasn’t it addressed by management previously?”

I’m just wondering if others have heard this line as well.

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Post ID: @OP+192H1lnV

23 replies (most recent on top)

I was let go after working at Cengage for over 20 years. I routinely received excellent reviews and the one right before I was let go, I got a few Exceeds Expectations. Reason for my layoff: reorg and position closure. Two directors decided who they liked and who they didn't and that's how it was decided. Lots of lazy riff raff is left in the area I was in. Some just dodge every layoff for some reason. They deserve incompetence.

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Post ID: @enuf+192H1lnV

@6wtc+192H1lnV Not nearly as pathetic as the people walking around proudly saying "We are a mission based company!" believing that we are actually doing anything to help students. What a joke. We're only in this to help KC and the rest of the Apax board buy a 3rd home in the Hamptons while the employees get peanuts.

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Post ID: @6yei+192H1lnV

@5xmo+192H1lnV. Pathetic. Can he really be this dumb? At least executives pre-MH would say things like "well students will spend $200 on a pair of shoes, so they can buy a textbook."

He is a grifter. Plain and simple. And he's laughing all the way to the bank.

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Post ID: @6wtc+192H1lnV

When Hansen closed out the SF office, laying off a few hundred people, he actually said to everyone that he was “doing it for the students.”

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Post ID: @5xmo+192H1lnV

@5oom+192H1lnV HR is just a symptom of the problem at Cengage. And that problem is at the very top of the company, and has been there going on a decade despite failure after failure.

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Post ID: @5lsj+192H1lnV

Obviously the HR reps are living the ethos. By disrupting the lives of the longtime employees they are forcing change. Now the employees can be their own CEO!

(Camera pan to nerdy girls and old lady hanger ones nodding their heads with big smiles in agreement)

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Post ID: @5oom+192H1lnV

Why join a company that employs inverse layoff policies, where the better you perform, the more likely you'll be terminated? Not an optimal career choice.

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Post ID: @5zwr+192H1lnV

Cengage HR is a clown show. They collude with management to get rid of people for unfair reasons and justify it to look legit. I’ve seen it happen. Pro Tip: HR is not your friend. Especially at Cengage.

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Post ID: @5agp+192H1lnV

I'm married to an HR manager. Trust me when I say if you tell a terminated employee they are no longer qualified for a job with no other reason or documentation, - and they have been doing that job for years with good performance reviews - then you are opening yourself up to all kinds of lawsuits. Yes, wrongful termination suits are hard to win or prove but a company wants to avoid them entirely. Battling them in court costs money Cengage doesn't have.

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Post ID: @3bzb+192H1lnV

Ask them if Michael, FB, GM and KC are being let go for the same reason or if they get a pass because they’re r word.

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Post ID: @2vlt+192H1lnV

At least be honest with people. To say “you don’t have the skill set” puts the onus of firing on the employee. What did the employee’s manager do to mitigate a skill gap? Probably nothing. Most especially if the employee hadn’t heard issues with skill sets prior to firing. I know employees who were fired without being put on a performance plan. They do this by holding severance over your head. You want a PIP first? OK but no severance if you fail after 30 days. Spoiler: you will fail. If you don’t get at least 30 days of severance then ask for the PIP and start looking immediately.

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Post ID: @2zaq+192H1lnV

This is what a company does when they have ulterior motives. You said the employees were long term so I assume they were paid more than their peers. A company can’t say “you make too much now” because they are the ones who agreed to pay what you’re making (and probably gave raises through the years on top of that).

I am not surprised in the least that Cengage would do something like this so transparently. It sounds to me like the HR rep is the one lacking in skill sets.

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Post ID: @1yxr+192H1lnV

@oir+192H1lnV Unless you have a s-xual harassment or racism smoking gun wrongful termination suits are pretty much worthless. It's going to cost you tens of thousands of dollars on the lawsuit itself and you may very well end up losing. I've been there as have a couple of my friends, one who was in her 50's and the other was in his 60's. Neither of them got anything.

Its worth getting a lawyer and spend a couple grand if you think you have a solid case, but very few of these suits ever reach court and most are settled for a fraction of what you originally think its worth. The company just bleeds you to death.

Best advice is to threaten it if you are negotiating severance and try to get more severance and move on with your life.

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Post ID: @1zvp+192H1lnV

They’ve cycled through all their other excuses. Next it will be you refuse the mark, therefore, you’re fired.

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Post ID: @bvy+192H1lnV

When used for long-term employees it’s probably:

  1. You don’t have the skill set for the new technologies we are moving to.

or

  1. You have the skill set, but we can get the same skill set for less.

or

  1. You may have the skill set, but you look old so we are going to assume you don’t.
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Post ID: @rxa+192H1lnV

If that's true then Cengage is opening itself up for a lot of wrongful termination suits. If you are terminating someone based on their performance you need to have it extremely well documented over time. That's the entire point of performance improvement plans. I'm surprised to hear this because when I was at Cengage the modus operandi was to "eliminate the position" of people getting terminated, which is why we had so many reorgs. That way the company can claim that the person's position no longer exists though we always knew it was just a workaround for those who fell out of favor with management.

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Post ID: @oir+192H1lnV

The only relevant skill set is the ability to convince your higher ups that they want to keep you around.

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Post ID: @coy+192H1lnV

If you want to work for a company where any loyalty or dedication takes you to the top of the elimination list, this is for you!

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Post ID: @tqw+192H1lnV

A very similar excuse is used when rejecting applicants. Candidate who have everything the job description requires and more get turned down in favor of "other candidates whose skills more closely align to the position". What it typically means is you either didn't show enough blind admiration or you're someone the company knew could see through the BS and they'd rather reject you before you reject them.

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Post ID: @mlw+192H1lnV

Maybe they didn’t know how to get on a train or embrace ethos. Lucky for them that there were so many workshops about embracing change and becoming your own ceo vs actual skill set training.

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Post ID: @qyd+192H1lnV

It's an easy out. Nebulous and no way to refute it. Best thing to do is be thankful they are out of such a miserable environment and move on with their lives.

There are so many things to do other than educational publishing. Things that actually make a difference.

Traditional educational publishing is dead. It is vapid business full of vapid people.

Getting canned was the best thing that ever happened to those people. It certainly was for me.

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Post ID: @xyc+192H1lnV

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