HR Strange But True!
May 10, 2007

In HR Strange but True!, we've covered several unique ways employers have fired employees. We've had, for example, one employer that laid off workers via e-mail, and another one that fired an employee via text message. Say what you want about these approaches, but they sure are efficient. If you want another efficient way to handle layoffs, look to Robb's, a department store in Hexham, England.

The store's approach to layoffs included a pull of the fire alarm. Once employees, who thought it was a fire drill, gathered in the parking lot, the store brought them back inside and notified them that it would be closing in a couple of weeks and that they would no longer have jobs.

"The way we've been treated is appalling and to find out in this way has infuriated a lot of people," one of the employees tells the Daily Mail.

The store had been open for nearly 200 years. More than 140 employees lost their jobs.

A spokesperson for the store's parent company tells the newspaper that pulling the fire alarm was a way for store managers to get customers out of the store and gather employees.

"It is at the discretion of the store management how the staff are given the news," the spokesperson said. "The fire alarm was set off to clear the store of members of the public and gather staff together at a designated area."

One politician complained about the store's handling of the layoffs to the Hexham Courant.

"It should have been handled much better than this," said Peter Atkinson, Hexham's Member of Parliament. "These are very loyal people who, in some cases, have worked for Robb's for many years. To be taken into a car park and told in this manner is disgraceful--it is a brutal and brutish way to treat people."

Sources: Daily Mail and Hexham Courant

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