To not sue The Man

posted by Jeff | Friday, June 12, 2009, 11:53 PM | comments: 0

As some of my closer friends know, I was seriously considering suing my former employer when they cut me loose. I spoke with an attorney friend who thought I'd have a pretty good case for "implied contract" if I found the right attorney (he's way out of state), which would entitle me to a year of salary, but honestly all I wanted was vacation time, which would've been a slam dunk in small claims court due to a number of factors.

Because of the way I was treated, and others before me, it seemed like the right thing to do, but it was mostly because I was angry. Eventually I let that anger go. Over time I cared less about being right, and more about moving on.

It was a strangely rewarding and simultaneously awful experience, working for two incompetent owners who had no experience doing, well, anything. One was a college drop out who never had any other job, the other was an older guy who didn't respect anyone and didn't know anything. Both were concerned with appearance, whether it be by way of motorcycles or floor seats for Cavs games, and they placed no value in the people who worked for them at all. I was appaled at what some of the guys were making there. I was constantly annoyed that the owners often couldn't be troubled to attend their own meetings.

But the worst thing about it was that it was simply the most unprofessional environment I have ever worked in. There was no process, no source control, no QA, no requirements, constant slipping schedules, pissed off clients... every day was dark. Despite all of that, I built a ton of process and standards in a very short time, right up to an automated build process, and at least set the stage for future development (which is now gone with all the people who left or were cut). I also led, with a fellow former ICOM'er, a project that delivered on time with a high degree of quality for a fairly important client. I held on to that as some indication that client work could indeed not suck, but that opportunity went away.

So in the long run, I had to let go of making a couple of incompetent douche bags pay. It was a waste of mental energy. The lesson learned this time was to be aware of the difference between a good job and a bad job, which was abundantly clear in this case.

I've been out of ICOM for about a year, and I have to say that I really miss the place. Getting laid-off there seemed like an opportunity, and in many ways it was, as my experience since has been valuable, if not ideal. I've since had lunch with and/or talked with my former bosses there, and we agreed that perhaps I was not utilized in the best way there, which is partly my own fault. Regardless, it's an example of how professional, high end people conduct themselves. The fact that I'd still talk with them regularly demonstrates the level at which they operate, even if the company has seen some ups and downs over the last year.

At the end of the day, suing someone wasn't the end game that I needed, it was the hindsight that I did the right things and better understand how to identify a sub-optimal situation.


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