How NOT to Treat an Employee You Let Go After 32 Years

Mark Heisler is an award-winning pro basketball writer for the Los Angeles Times. He’s been with the newspaper for more than three decades.

He’s also one of the people who got caught in the latest round of staff cutbacks.

Heisler got the news that he was being let go while he was on vacation. When he returned to the office five days later to gather his belongings and wrap things up, well, let’s just say that he wasn’t treated with the courtesy you would expect to be offered to anyone on the staff, much less someone who had toiled for the organization for more than 32 years.

I have always found that the true test of an organization is how they treat people when they aren’t obligated to treat them well. And what better test is there than how an organization’s people management function treats its people who are losing their jobs?

It’s at these times when soon-to-be-former employees are most vulnerable that you really see who can walk the corporate talk — and who is just engaged in hypocritical corporate speak and marketing hype.

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Here’s how the folks over at described what the LA Times did to its longtime NBA writer:

Heisler, the paper’s award-winning pro basketball writer, was on vacation in New Jersey when he got the word that he had been laid off. When he returned this week to L.A., he went to the office to clean out 32 years worth of stuff and found his parking card was turned off, someone had to come down and sign him in to the building, and his computer log-on was disabled. He sent along this write-up of the experience, with the photo of his company American Express card and the Times’ exit paperwork.

First line: “I’ve got to get out of this place, if it’s the last thing I ever do….”

You can find the rest of what Mark Heisler wrote about when he was “offboarded” here.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


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