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Home goods behemoth Williams-Sonoma and its subsidiaries have carried out a series of mass firings of remote workers via conference calls more than a month before their seasonal jobs were supposed to end, according to a Wednesday report.
The company terminated remote workers who were employed by the high-end retailer, as well as its brands West Elm and Pottery Barn, one of the fired staffers who requested anonymity told DailyMail.com.
“It’s awful, people are devastated,” the terminated employee, who is a mother of two living in Tampa, Fla., and who had worked as a furniture associate, told the outlet. “I’m a single parent, I can no longer afford Christmas.”
But a Williams-Sonoma spokeswoman refuted that, telling DailyMail.com that the firings occurred during “small group meetings” of around 10 to 15 people over the phone because all of the seasonal workers are remotely employed.
That said, the Tampa mother disputed the company’s claims. She said there were more than 100 people on her termination phone call, while also “sharing shocking video in which the line could be heard erupting in outrage,” DailyMail.com reported.
The outlet said that Williams-Sonoma would not respond to repeated requests asking about the number of seasonal workers who were let go this week or the number of seasonal workers on the company’s payroll currently.
However, the company did say that after seasonal work begins, it can come to an end anytime during annual retail purchasing surges, typically between August and January. The company also said that the workers who were terminated had completed their assignments.
“With a lot of seasonal work, the bulk of the work takes place prior to Christmas,” the spokeswoman told DailyMail.com. “There’s nothing that promises the end date of the seasonal assignment.”
That said, the Tampa worker who was fired told DailyMail.com that her termination and those of the other workers on the call took place more than a month before they were expecting to be let go, “throwing their lives into financial chaos just days before Christmas.”
“This whole work from home culture now, there’s such a lack of respect for workers,” she told the outlet. “It was just really awful to be treated this way.”
On the video, a female manager can be heard 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.”
Afterward, several people on the call can be heard exploding in anger.
“You’re doing this on Christmas week, whose idea was this?” the worker taking video of the call asks.
“This is not open for discussion, we’re not having this conversation,” the manager responded.
“We’re going to have this conversation!” the worker replies forcefully. “What are you going to do, write me up? You gonna write me up? You just fired us!”
“Why would y’all put us all in this big Zoom meeting instead of doing it one-on-one?” another worker is heard asking.
A few seconds later, another worker can be heard saying, “I just joined the call, I’m not sure what’s going on.”
“We got fired on Christmas week,” another responds.
The fired Tampa worker claimed to DailyMail.com she is aware of at least five to six mass phone call firings in recent days.
“I feel really awful, we’re still in this pandemic, the new variant is coming about,” she told the outlet.
“This is a job that I knew was seasonal, and that’s fine, but to put us all on a phone call a month earlier is so humiliating.”
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