BUSINESS

Williams-Sonoma fires scores of remote workers just days before Christmas

Williams-Sonoma fired scores of remote workers in a series of tense conference calls this week — a month before they expected their seasonal jobs to end, according to a report.

The upscale home goods giant fired remote employees who had worked for the retailer and its subsidiary brands Pottery Barn and West Elm, according to the Daily Mail, which cited a Tampa, Florida-based anonymous employee.

“It’s awful, people are devastated,” the fired worker told the publication. “I’m a single parent, I can no longer afford Christmas.”

Night view of facade of Williams Sonoma store in San Ramon, California,
Scores of Williams-Sonoma workers were fired via conference calls right before Christmas.

A Williams-Sonoma spokeswoman said the firings took place in “small group meetings” of roughly 10 to 15 over the phone because all the seasonal workers involved were remote.

The anonymous fired employee disputed that, telling the publication that there were more than 100 people on the conference call when she was let go.

Tableware and cookware stand on display in the window of a Williams-Sonoma Inc. store on Madison Avenue in New York, U.S.
An unnamed employee said about 100 remote workers were fired by the upscale retailer right before the holidays.

Many of the remote workers worked in customer service and logistics, said the employee, who shared a video in which employees could be heard erupting in outrage. 

Williams-Sonoma did not immediately return requests for comment.

The retailer’s rep told the Daily Mail that seasonal jobs can start and end at any time during the retail surge between August and January, and that the terminated workers had completed their assignments for the season.

“With a lot of seasonal work, the bulk of the work takes place prior to Christmas,” the spokeswoman said. “There’s nothing that promises the end date of the seasonal assignment.”

Laura Alber, president and chief executive officer of Williams-Sonoma
Laura Alber, president and chief executive officer of Williams-Sonoma, in a Williams-Sonoma store in Corte Madera, California.

But the fired employee disputed that, saying that the layoffs came more than a month before the workers expected their employment to finish at the end of January.

“This whole work-from-home culture now, there’s such a lack of respect for workers,” she said. “It was just really awful to be treated this way.”

The video of the call reveals a manager thanking workers and telling them to “clock out.”

“Right after this call, we want you to clock out,” the manager said.. 

“You’re doing this on Christmas week, whose idea was this?’ asked the worker filming the call.

“This is not open for discussion, we’re not having this conversation,” the manager replied.

“We’re going to have this conversation!” the worker shouted back. “What are you going to do, write me up? You gonna write me up? You just fired us!”

Tableware and cookware stand on display in the window of a Williams-Sonoma Inc. store on Madison Avenue in New York,
Angry fired employees confronted their managers during a Zoom meeting to announce their terminations.

“Why would y’all put us all in this big Zoom meeting instead of doing it one-on-one,” another of the workers on the call piped up.

Seconds later, a worker who had just dialed in said: “I just joined the call, I’m not sure what’s going on.”

“We got fired on Christmas week,” another worker responded.

The fired employee who spoke to the Daily Mail said her co-workers were hired in September and told their jobs would last until January.

But in the past week, she said, the company began cracking down on overtime hours, banning workers from putting in extra hours to save up for Christmas expenses. Over the weekend, seasonal employees began getting invites to mysterious dial-in meetings where they learned that they were terminated immediately.

Per: NYP

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