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Home goods mega-chain Williams-Sonoma fired scores of remote workers in a conference calls just days before Christmas — and a full month before their short-term seasonal jobs were expected to end, according to a new report.
The upscale chain canned the employees who worked for Williams-Sonoma and two other home decor subsidiaries, Pottery Barn and West Elm, according to the Daily Mail, which cited a Tampa, Florida-based anonymous employee.
“It’s awful, people are devastated,” the fired worker told the publication. “I’m a single parent, I can no longer afford Christmas.”
While a spokeswoman for Williams-Sonoma said the firings occurred in “small group meetings” of 10 to 15 people, the fired worker disputed the claim, telling DailyMail.com that “there were more than 100 people on the conference call where she learned her fate, and sharing shocking video in which the line could be heard erupting in outrage.”
Shocking video of one of the calls shows a manager telling workers on the call: “We want to thank you for your time with us and for helping us make the season a success.”
“Right after this call we want you to clock out,” the manager adds, as the conference call can be heard exploding with outraged remarks from the fired workers.
“You’re doing this on Christmas week, whose idea was this?” asks the worker filming the call. “This is not open for discussion, we’re not having this conversation,” the manager responds.
The Williams-Sonoma spokeswoman said seasonal employment can end at any time and that workers they let go had completed their assignments for the season. “With a lot of seasonal work, the bulk of the work takes place prior to Christmas,” the spokeswoman said. “There’s nothing that promises the end date of the seasonal assignment.”
But the fired employee said that the terminations came more than a month before workers were expecting their temporary employment wrap up at the end of January. “This whole work from home culture now, there’s such a lack of respect for workers,” she told DailyMail.com. “It was just really awful to be treated this way.”
The mass terminations came just a couple weeks after more than 900 employees of mortgage company Better.com were invited to a Zoom webinar, where CEO Vishal Garg announced they would all be fired effective immediately.
CNN Business reviewed a recording of the call, in which the employees were fired just weeks before the holidays.
“If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off,” Garg said during the meeting. “Your employment here is terminated effective immediately.”
He also told the employees that they would be receiving an email from the human resources department detailing their benefits and severance, the Daily Wire reported.
Garg then told the people on the call that market efficiency, performance, and productivity were the reasons they were being fired. Fortune reported that days after the firing, Garg “posted a series of messages seen by Fortune on an anonymous professional network,” in which he accused the fired employees of “stealing” from coworkers and customers due to their unproductivity. The outlet reported that he claimed at least some of those who were fired had only worked two hours a day.