Unless you control them, they can fire you too.
Machines have a bad rap despite scandalous stories going around recently of them firing people. The most viral of these stories was published by Ibrahim Diallo a year after it first occurred.
“It was 7 a.m. when my phone rang. Instead of an alarm, it was my recruiter disturbing me from a pleasant dream. On my way to work, I listened to the voicemail she had left, ‘Oh my God, are you okay?’”
For the next six days, Ibrahim’s week went downhill. His key card failed, his workstation locked him out, and his recruiter told him she’d received an email saying he was terminated. Both manager and director insisted there must be some mistake. The director ordered the support division to resolve the problem but received an automated response that the IT process had finalized Ibrahim’s termination. Case closed.
“After lunch, two people appeared at my desk. One was a familiar face that seemed to avoid making direct eye contact. It was Jose and his fellow security guard. He cordially informed me that he was to escort me out of the building. The director was furious,” Ibrahim explained.
“They’d received a threatening email to escort me out of the building and were just doing their job. I was fired. There was nothing my manager could do about it. There was nothing the director could do about it. They stood powerless as I packed my stuff and left the building.”
Over the next three weeks, Ibrahim watched the case escalate, but no one had the power to intervene. “From time to time, they would attach a system email. It was soulless and written in red as it gave orders that dictated my fate. Disable this, disable that, revoke access here, revoke access there, escort out of premises, etc.”
Ibrahim was on a three-year contract and had worked for only eight months. He noted that his work was good. “I was receiving constant praises, I was getting along super well with everyone.” Apparently, the IT system thought otherwise.
“The system was out for blood and I was its very first victim.” The only way to stop the process was to let the system run its course and rehire Ibrahim. But by then, Ibrahim had to explain to people why he was dismissed and had to deal with distant coworkers. He missed three weeks of pay and sought another job.