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Getting Fired/Laid Off

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Working & Careers > Getting Fired/Laid Off


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Unemployed Husband may be depressed

July 2008

My husband is an engineer in his 40's who was laid off in January from his job of 16 years. Since then we have come up with multiple plans about how to deal with him being home and taking over most of the household stuff while I took on a third job. However, to date, none of these plans have come to fruition. He ''forgets'' or just says ''I going to...'' and it doesn't get done. My house is filthy because I am just too exhausted to try to take on the house stuff, our 2 year old, and the jobs. He says he is not depressed but only sits around and watches television (actually gets lost in it). He is crabby all time and has gone back on promise to go to therapy. What should I do? I am so frustrated and exhausted I want to scream. Lost and exhausted


It sounds like your husband is having trouble transitioning to a different role in life (stay-at-home spouse). Maybe the best thing for your husband to do would be to try to find another job, or if he is having a difficult time finding opportunities, perhaps going back to school. It sounds like he may have some self-esteem issues, so it might help to get back out there on the job market or to learn some new skills. In fact, this is a great opportunity for trying something different. He may be afraid to look for a new job because, after sixteen years, it's difficult (and scary) to get back out there on the job market. But as another high-tech engineer, I know there are plenty of good opportunities for smart, well-experienced people in the bay area. Paul, another geeky engineer
Go with him to a Dr asap. He is clearly depressed. If he is already on meds, they are obviously NOT the right ones and not working. There are a lot of options out there and neither of you should have to suffer like this. good luck. anon
I went through this with my ex, who would snap, ''I don't need therapy, I just need a job!''

Your husband definitely sounds depressed (and understandably so). That's why he sits around, is crabby and unmotivated. It may be hard for him to admit he is depressed and then have to deal with it, because with his self-esteem being low after losing a job, being depressed might sound to him like yet another area of life he's ''failing'' at.

You both have my sympathy because you also sound exhausted and depressed -- again, understandably so. Being out of work causes anxiety for the whole family.

Start with the assumption that, yes, he is going through a period of depression, and proceed from there. Unfortunately, he may continue to be resistant to getting help, so you have to handle him gently and positively, even when you feel like yelling at him.

If you do have health insurance that covers therapy, the best thing might be for *you* to go for a visit or two -- if you're able, even though you're schedule sounds overwhelming. It could help for you to have an outlet and a counselor might have some realistic tips for getting your husband to accept help.

In my case, my ex saw that I was so at the end of my rope that *I* needed therapy, and that made the light dawn for him a little bit.

You have all my good wishes. It's hard to stay strong sometimes but you can do it. Things will turn around


Husband Keeps Getting Fired

Feb 2006

In response to the june posting ''Husband Keeps Getting Fired'' - I'd like to know what you decided to do. I'm in the same situation. My husband just lost his 6th job in 4 years. This one only lasted 4 months. He's in I.T. and is very knowledgable but the longest he's ever kept a job is a year. We got married 5 months after we met because I found out I was pregnant. I had a miscarriage at 6 weeks but we decided to go ahead with the wedding. Now we've been married 4 years and have a 22 month old and a baby on the way. I work full time at a job I've had for 6 years. I make good money but I wanted to become a stay-at-home- mom after our 2nd child comes. My husband's mom has watched our daughter since she was 6 months old. She loves watching her but feels 2 children might be too much - thus, I decided to eventually stay home. The problem with that is that my husband's employment history leaves much to be desired. He recently got a gov't. job which made me think FINALLY, he'd have some stability. Nope, he got fired yesterday after 4 months (he was still on probation). The problem is that he can't get along with people in positions of authority. He has talked poorly (to me) about every manager he's ever had. He calls them micromanagers and says they don't know what they're doing. Essentially, he's arrogant and thinks he's smarter than everyone. He also says things to coworkers he shouldn't say. He alienates people he works with. He knows what he's doing is wrong but can't seem to change his ways. He's never out of a job for more than 1-2 months - I.T. jobs are plentiful and they pay well. But there's no stability in terms of benefits and I don't know what to do. I feel resentment toward him when I'm driving home in traffic for an hour because I CAN'T quit my job. He's a great father to our daughter and he's a good husband - he just can't get it together when it comes to being professional. I worry that if I leave him, things will just be harder on me. His mom may not watch are daughter anymore and I'll have no help at all. I've even thought of changing my career to teaching so at least I'd have my summers off to spend with my children. Any advice would be appreciated. Melissa


Hi, A few things came to mind reading your post. First, to be honest, your husband does not sound very unusual for an IT guy. Second, he seems to def. need counseling of some sort, because if his tech. skills really are up to par then his social skills must be horrible for him to keep getting fired. IT people are hard to find and a pain to replace. Maybe he could learn strategies for expressing his frustration in a more accepted manner. Third, and I'm not sure how this will help the need for stability, but contracting/consulting may be his best bet. Fourth, is it possible that he hates his job so much that he can't take it for more than 3 or 4 months? Maybe with a bit of additional training he could move to tech. sales, pre-sales, post-sales, etc. I would hate being an IT manager, and completely understand why they all seem to be irritable and rude.

Hope some of this is helpful. Kean


I could have written your post 15 years ago so I'll cut to the chase. My husband has held several jobs in those 15 years, with long bouts of unemployment. Right now, he's been out-of-work for 2 1/2 years. Your husband will probably never, I mean never, get his job/career act together. I've spent the past 17 years being optimistic and supportive and naiive. I have wasted years of my life pretending that things will change soon. They never have.

In your exact situation, I actually quit my job and stayed home with our two young boys during their baby- and toddlerhood. In so doing, I irrevocably wrecked our financial situation. I let my professional network die and am now trying to resurrect it. I never would've done that if I'd been more realistic about my situation.

So, face what you've got. Decide if you love him. Decide if you're going to stay with him. And then envision your life as the sole breadwinner.

By the way, my husband's brother has the same track record and his wife caught on years earlier than I did. She's in better shape financially, emotionally, in every way. Unfortunately, she says, ''I love him but I'll never respect him again.''

- Sad but True - Fifteen Years Ahead of You


If you changed around the genders, would there be such a problem? Envision a scenario where one of the partners is a good spouse and a loving parent, and the other is a good provider. This should be a happy situation. In your case, however, because the good provider is a woman, it is a problem. I don't want to sound harsh, but just because you're a woman, does that mean you're entitled to stay home with your child while your husband works outside the home to support the family? Personally, I don't think so. Have your husband stay home and he can have nice dinners waiting for you when you get home from that hour-long commute. It's also possible that he may find after being home for a while, the office isn't so bad after all. working mom
What a shame! As an experienced supervisor, one who has managed groups of 50 or more for over 25 years, I can report that this problem is not that unusual. What makes it unusual is that he keeps getting hired! How does he get references? He needs to get help. If he was lacking in technical skills, he would understand that immediately and take remedial training. In today's IT market, communication and customer service skills are equally important to success; it's just that most men don't see it that way. They see communication as a feminine skillset, and one not that essential to their success. He should take some training, and perhaps get a 360 degree appraisal by requesting feedback from several former colleagues or supervisors, or even customers. Franklin Covey company performs these for a fee. You would think with so many terminations behind him, he would begin to see it can't all be the other people involved. He must know he has some part in this. Yet ego often gets in the way. If he doesn't get help soon, he will soon be unemployable. And if he thinks he can make a go of it as an entrepreneur, or contractor, think again. Entrepreneurs/contractors require even a higher degree of customer focus and humility, since there is no formal commitment by an employer to these folks. Success comes to those willing to examine their own frailties and work on improving their skills, technical and 'soft' skills both. Hopefully, he values his home life enough to not place the burden of his failures on his family, and is man enough to face the changes necessary. This is not easy for anyone. Good luck! . . .Changed and Thankful
If your husband can't hold down a job, then he's the one that should stay home with the kids. Someone has to keep the family afloat. Sara
It seems you need a plan B in case your husband continues with this trend. Maybe try to save $$ and then reduce your job from full time to part-time, so you don't depend on your husband's income to make it from month to month and you can spend more time with your children? Anon.
perhaps he could change his work environment. my husband has a similar line of work (software customization) and personality. he's very good at what he does, but i think he has not gotten jobs due to the personality. he has been employed almost 2 years at a small consulting company where the people ''get'' him, and the clients love him because he can solve any problem they throw at him. i think the fact that he doesn't work in the same office all the time and has lots of new challenges are key. he still complains about his employers and the clients to me, and does give his employers some guff, but i guess they're okay with it. anon
I have 2 thoughts about this problem;

First, since your husband is a sweet guy and a good father, dumping him because of $ when you have no trouble earning it seems harsh to me. Harsh and sexist. What is the problem with him staying home and you working with the second child? I know you want to be the one, but maybe he should be the one?

Second,as someone who has been called ''insubordinate'' repeatedly and fired with that word in the mix, I personaly just had to start my own business....I am on my 3rd as I do seem to fire myself for some of the same reasons....but this isn't about me! Being your own boss is humbling. Not unrelated though....if he were to be the primary care giver, especially for a baby, the experience of having a REAL tyrant boss would be good for him and might be the base of some very good motivation in future situations for him to keep his mouth shut and do what is nessesary to keep a job.

Anyway, good luck to you! I am happy for you. These are nice problems to have! A nice guy, kind mother in law, healthy kids, a job you don't mind doing........you can always make it better, but you are starting from a pretty good life. Divorce does not make anything easier. Marriage is hard. You owe it to yourself to open up your thinking about roles and how they can change back and forth. I wish you well!


Yes your husband is not being arrogant, he is right on the dot; micro-management is a very sirous malady in todays office environment. Please refer to Peter Drucker from Harvard university regarding this subject. Having to carry the burden of a family is overwhelming for anybody.Maybe this is the time for him to take a brake from his line of work and try something that allows the freedom to make money and has less of a corporate format. Mortgage re-financing is a field where base salary is 2000 dollars plus benefits, your husband can make between 10K to 20K working at the same pace as in his IT business, will be able to allow you to saty at home and do a part-time in the future. Two children in the East Bay plus 2 adults to live confortably need this kind of income.Please let your husband explore the opportunities in this field( I know getting fired is really stressful on both of you), and try to take mini-vacations, picnincs, strolls on the beach, driving around Tahoe; and doing Lamaze,eating cakes in College Avenue and pamper you with a wonderful pedicure. You need to take care of each other,nobody said marriage and parenting was easy; is as difficult as passing a chemistry test.:) solid advice
Wow, I did a double take on your letter. I thought someone had read my mind. We are experiencing the same situation in my household. My husband has been laid off repeatedly in a field he in which he is not even happy. Maybe it is a sign of the times. i read that only one third of the nation's jobs require college education, but 50% of students plan to get a degree! They are callin us GENERATION DeBT. Soon I must make the choice of leaving our baby and going back to work. I make more than he did, but that's not much. Plus, he can't nurse! I know my DH has a real problem with authority especially since he is a ''Cal Graduate''! He made a minor violation during probation and instead of looking for work, he waited 18 months for another job posting. My advice is to have him get a business license. You and I both may just have to find reliable day care and just go back to work. I feel for us both. Mine, too.
My wife asked me to post about this--I know it's belated, but it took me a while to get the courage. I used to get fired all the time, and it took a terrible toll on my self-esteem and my marriage. I was very proud, and resisted getting help. Finally, I went to Toni Littlestone, who has helped other people with career change. She helps just as many people with career self-management, and that is what I needed. We worked together every week for a couple of years (it was worth it) on totally changing my relationship with work, on a problem by problem workshop kind of basis. Basically, my attitude and misunderstanding about how to communicate was the problem, and I needed to change--a lot. Toni was incredibly compassionate and patient, plus perceptive, insightful, and right on target with her guidance. Like many men, I was resistant to getting help--but I am thankful every day that I did. We worked on this a few years ago, and I have not been fired ever since. It saved my marri age, and helped me grow into the person I am today.
not getting fired anymore
June 2005

I need advice on how to handle my husband. He is a very warm and gentle man and I love him dearly. He is also very bright in some areas, yet he makes terrible work decisions, has poor boundaries with co-workers, and says inappropriate things that often cause him his job. He has been through years of therapy and is on medication for ADD and depression. He is in his mid 30's and still has not been able to keep a job for more than one year. We recently moved from the Bay Area for him to take a new job and he has already been ''let go''. I feel very frustrated and have thought of leaving him, because I do not think I can go on taking care of him emotonally and financially. I work full-time and do the majority of the parenting. He feels very bad about this, but can't seem to change his ways. If I was to leave, I would terribly miss him and would feel awful about separating with a young child. She loves him like crazy and he is a great daddy. However, I am filled with resentment and feel that I can't get ahead in my life with this continuing. I have talked with him about his job stability, but the problem is that I honestly do not think he has control over his actions. I am thinking of trying couples counseling, but am not sure how much it will help. Has anyone been through a similar situation? Any advice would help.


Your story sounds very similar to mine. My husband who had been diagnosed with ADD and depression was finally diagnosed 11 years later with bipolar disorder. It is an illness that is VERY often misdiagnosed. It is very treatable with the proper medication. Check out this site and look at the symptoms. Some may be applicable to your husband. http://www.dbsalliance.org/info/bipolar.html Feel free to contact me.
Is your husband willing to go to therapy? Medication and/or ''talk'' therapy can help him with ADD or any personality disorder that he might have. If he's not willing to do individual therapy but he'll do couples' therapy, that may be a good first step too.

The other possibility is that you come to grips with becoming the breadwinner and he take over child care responsibilities - perhaps coupled with a part-time job (if he loses it, he can just get another one). anon


Hi, has your husband tried seeking help from a career counselor? Seems like he has some good skills and qualities but has not yet found his ideal work environment...He might get some really good ideas about ways to capitalize on his interests and skills. S

Getting Laid Off while Pregnant

May 2004

I just recently learned that I am pregnant with my second child and am deeply fearing that I am going to be laid off at work. I had this fear before the pregnancy due to the fact that my workload is very slow and it truly seems like they don't need me. My employer currently pays my health insurance and other benefits, but I'm an still technically in a ''probationary period'', as I only started there a few months ago. The probation is scheduled to end this month. My understanding is that they can't lay me off because I am pregnant, but that they can lay me off if they clearly don't have enough work for me. My questions are: Should I inform them of my pregnancy earlier than I otherwise would (before the end of the first trimester) with the hopes that they will have the decency not to terminate me? And if so, should I do so immediately, or wait until my probation is technically over? (I'm afraid that if I tell them before the probation is over, then they will certainly terminate me at that point, but there is a chance that they will do so regardless of whether or not I tell them about the pregnancy.) I am so worried about losing my health insurance (not to mention my income). Since I am already pregnant, I have a pre-existing condition, and the only insurance I would be able to get is COBRA, which is super expensive. The other issue, is that it will probably be very difficult (if not immpossible) to find work while pregnant. Friends have told me that maybe they wouldn't lay me off for fear of a law suit, but I assume that since they could document that the workload has been slow, that I wouldn't have much of a case anyway. I would appreciate any comments or advice. scared of losing job


Hi, I can understand your concerns. It is hard enough being pregnant with you second without having to worry about losing your job. I am in somewhat of a similar boat. There are going to be layoffs where I work and they are doing it based on last hired, first to go, and even though I have been here almost 2 years, I was last hired. I am also pregnant with my second child. What I am trying to keep in mind is 1) I would be able to collect unemploymnet benefits 2) We can switch to my husband's benifits. You can change healthcare providers while pregnant. You are no longer penalized for the pre-existing condition of pregancy. I moved to the Bay Area from Seattle when I was 7 months pregnant and we switch from my benifits in Seattle to my husband's here, so you won't need to worry about that. Lastly, I am trying to look into something I can do part/time, from home, anything. So far I haven't come up with anything concrete, but it is worth looking into. Also remember that taxes, etc. might make it worthwhile for you not to work for while. With two incomes, you do get hit harder when paying taxes. You might want to look at the costs of working with two kids in daycare vs. you staying at home and you might be surprized to find out the difference is not that much. (I am not sure what you do for a living or how much you make, so this may or may not be a selling point).

In terms of telling your employer before 3 months, it is really up to you. I told mine earlier, but I did that becuase I had such bad morning sickness and needed to get outside every so often for some fresh air. That is a hard decision to make and you will have to do what you feel comfortable with. Keep in mind that things do happen for a reason, and sometimes a situation that seems like it could be the worst thing, actually ends up being a good thing. This is a hard place to get to I know. I was once fired from a job, and quite honestly I can say it was the best thing that could have happened to me at the time. I know it is stressful especially living here in the Bay Area where everything costs and arm and a leg. Hope everything works out for you! anon please


You must be very frightened right now. I'm so sorry that you are having to deal with this job issue at a time when you should be able to simply enjoy your new pregnancy. That being said, here's a little information about the law. You are correct when you say that your employer cannot fire you or lay you off because you are pregnant. It is also true that your employer can fire you or lay you off for other reasons -- whether you are pregnant or not -- and it sounds like this is the situation that you are in. You didn't mention what type of work that you do, so it's hard to answer some of your more practical questions -- such as whether you should tell you employer in hopes that you'll keep your job because your employer feels sorry for you. In some ways, I think that would only make your situation worse, because the employer's mercy would only last so long, and you'd lose your job anyway. Since it is quite early in your pregnancy, you can look for another job right now and not even tell prospective employers that you are pregnant. Or you can tell them secure in the knowledge that federal and state law prohibit them from failing to hire you because you are pregnant. Just based on the little you've said, looking for another job RIGHT NOW -- one that is secure -- is your best option rather than holding on to one that isn't secure. That being said, there doesn't seem to be any harm in telling your employer right now about your pregnancy -- and looking for another job at the same time. Good luck. Anon
Wow I could have written your post last year. Things were very slow at my work also and I was pregnant with baby number 2. I also thought they couldn't lay me off whilst pregnant so I told them a little earlier than the 12 weeks. I immediately noticed a difference in how I was treated. I was slowly but surely edged out of management meetings, emails, decision making etc. It was very painful for me as I wan't sure if it was deliberate or I was being overly sensitive. Anyway the next round of layoffs came and I was laid off. I was pretty surprised as they knew I was pregnant. I also felt they were uncaring as I was the sole breadwinner for my family and they kew that. I had been there 8 years so did have some tenure. They gave me 7 months severance and a couple of months of paying my health insurance. I went to see a lawyer. I was told that you can be laid off if you are pregnant if work is slow. Apparently a couple of years ago I may have had a case but my lawyer told me that juries are very employer friendly right now as they understand the economic need of companies to let people go. My health insurance didn't even go up to the birth!! I also knew that pregnancy was a pre-existing and would be forced to pay Cobra. The upshot was that together with my lawyer I wrote them a letter saying that I wanted them to pay my health insurance up to and including the birth and post partum period. They agreed to pay my health insurance up to when the baby was 2 months old. At that time you then can get other health insurance and are not forced into Cobra. Personally I think they were scared of a lawsuit and so gave me what I asked for. So yes it can happen to you when pregnant. I would still tell them earlier rather than later just in case your employer is more moral than mine was. And if the worst happens, know you can negotiate a more favorable package. Start documenting NOW and don't be afraid to talk to a lawyer if necessary. Anon (because I signed a legal doc re this)
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