I appreciate finding good revenge stories… I hope you’ll like this one. It’s a big win for the lawyer and those “Senoir Guys” deserved everything they got, and more. Read on…
The revenge is tame compared to what I have read as a lurker so far. But it is the most satisfactory thing I have done so far given that this happened outside US, where labour laws are, at best, guidelines.
I have left out several details. My apologies for formatting/wording if its unfamiliar to where you are from.
TL;DR – Management threatens their lawyer. The lawyer proves why this is not a great idea.
I was an in-house lawyer in a multinational company that sold software. I specifically joined this relatively lesser known company to learn more about compliance (the company was listed on the stock exchange – meaning more compliance work). I highlighted this specifically as one of the reasons for my seeking out a change. I discovered it was filled with “senior citizens” (not an age thing) when I joined. Basically a company full of old timers who are there purely because they’re close to the company’s owners. As part of the on-boarding experience, I had to sit through sermons of how they “changed the industry” and how “they know xx”. This meant I had three different bosses – one senior guy who was the “fixer” (ill called him Senior Guy 1 for convenience) No one really knew what he did, but he got a cabin to himself. Another was an ex-senior management guy who got a gig from the owner to negotiate tech contracts (Senior Guy 2). I highlight this because this ex-senior management guy asked me “What’s a EULA?” Another was my reporting manager with whom I was expected to work on a day to day basis. (Senior Guy 3)
One month after joining, I was told that the company was going private through a sale to another entity. I was shocked. But I had loans to pay so I continued. For some reason, I was “senior” enough for them to handle this independently. This meant I worked through nights to complete tasks that a law firm would ordinarily do. I also worked on the definitive agreement that was in use for the company to be sold. This will become important later.
By the third month, I had decided the role wasn’t what was advertised and I was essentially cheap labour for M&A. Buyers were from another city and planned to have their office there. I was not keen on moving. I read between the lines and started lining up interviews.
Things went south quickly. Old timers were unhappy that I was looking for a job because that would mean they’re answerable to owners or worse, have to do the work themselves. Cue the harassment which really solidified my resolve to leave. All my complaints about Senior Guy 1 & 2 to Senior Guy 3 were met with typical management talk. He sympathized and bad-mouthed them for burdening the company that he tolerates only because they are closer to the owner.
Senior Guy 2 started countering all my remarks/comments on drafting on email. Even minor agreement points required “discussion”. If it was his mistake, then we had a call. However, if Senior Guy 2 raised the point, it suddenly made “commercial sense”.
This wasn’t my first rodeo. I really didn’t care about proving a point because I wanted out as soon as possible. Any push-back, fights are going to be on deaf ears because from where I am, labour laws are, at best, recommendations unless you’re unionized. The only option is to leave.
I was pissed and tired of being pushed over but I wondered if it was just me angry at the whole situation and finding faults. I had an opportunity to test my theory. So in one of the contracts that “we” were drafting, I made some comments and sent them to Senior Guy 2. As expected, he countered with verbal suggestions on the phone, which didn’t make sense obviously. However, because he is “senior”, I had to do the song and dance to explain the points. So I arranged for the call, explained to him and documented this on email attributing each verbal recommendation, time of the call, and the decisions suggested by him. Then I sent this back to him for “approval”. However, this time, I CC’ed my boss Senior Guy 3 and asked for his approval on recommendations.
Surprisingly, this practice was entirely new to them. Both of them were pissed at me. Senior Guy 2 and 3 were not happy. Senior Guy 2 was being questioned for the first time on email and Senior Guy 3 couldn’t ignore my email as the “head” of my department. Unsurprisingly, I got a single-line non-answer from Senior Guy 3 basically asking me to “discuss this with Senior Guy 2”, followed by a verbally heated instruction to just do what Senior Guy 2 wants and not bother him.
Now I was sure that this wasn’t going to work for me in the short term or the long term. So I resigned and gave my notice period of one month (since I was on probation). Senior Guy 3 was pissed because he thought the notice period was for three months and the sale of company was expected to close in 1-2 months. Cue the one-month harassment that typically follows in any toxic work environment after you resign.
On the last working day, I walked up to Senior Guy 3’s cabin and did the obligatory thank-you communication. He basically told me that I am picking a huge fight and he will see that I never get employed in the industry again. He also told me that he is NOT going to pay me my full and final settlement of dues and a relieving letter(a HUGE deal in India to get to your next job. employers hold off on these as blackmail for troublesome employees).
His tone implied that there is very little I could do because they were all senior guys and they “been there done that”. I wasn’t the first disgruntled employee for him. I said my goodbyes. I got IT to confirm that i have returned the company assets and cc’d my personal email.
However, I was pissed as well at the whole ordeal and had made up my mind not to show this on my CV.
Revenge Starts Here
I call it my one-two shot.
Shot One – Once I left, I spoke with my friend and decided to serve a legal notice, detailing the ordeal and treatment meted out to me. Ordinarily, the legal notice barely makes a difference as the management is usually thick skinned about it. However, the legal notice was also sent to the owners (not just the company). This wasn’t really required but I did it anyways. Turns out many directors were pissed at Senior Guy 1 , 2 and 3 but were quiet just waiting to sell this company out. My act of involving the owners meant the entire board (including outside directors, mandatory for listed entities). This turned into an festival of explanations by all three in front of the owners. From what I hear, they all had to personally take leave to meet the owners (as shareholders) and explain themselves as naughty kids. Needless to say, everyone in the company was talking about it.
I waited for 1 month to see if the notice had any effect aside from them being chided like kids. Expectedly, I got no response but I knew from grapevine that they now had to spend on a law firm to reply to me because “shareholders” were aware of this information. I had made my point but now I wanted more. I really didn’t want to drag it because I was also looking for jobs and had loans to pay.
However, their template management response (this time with HR copied) basically implied that since I had left “without notice” they were evaluating all options, including considering me AWOL. Senior Guy 2 basically threatened me that he will not pay me my dues or my relieving letter (evidencing service) and implied that there is very little I can do about it. Petty that I am, I made plans to get both.
Shot two – Since I had access to the definitive agreement, and remembered huge details about it (having worked with law firms through the agreement in detail)
I was aware of who stays / goes. I made sure to speak to those who were going to let go. Cue mass resignations and missed deadlines.
I knew the specific approvals that would trigger because of the transaction. So I spoke to the authority who would approve this transaction as a disgruntled employee. The authority made their own inquiries. the owners got spooked. It was definitely not serious enough to scare them into thinking that the deal won’t get approved. But the mere fact that a government authority was calling them meant they now had to deal with the authority which would have never happened, if it wasn’t for me.
Buyer used this as a low value bargaining chip citing bad employee experience and resignation of several key members on key projects.
I got my dues and relieving letter (evidencing service) within 48 hours of shot two.
Company got gossip for years on how the management was dumb enough to mess with a lawyer, including a sermon from owners on how to not piss off employees when they are trying to sell the company.
Senior Guy 1 & 2 were left red-faced but survived because of old ties. However, their contracts were not renewed.
Senior Guy 3 who threatened me, became a “consultant” after the company was sold.
The Final Word
This is creative revenge and I’m sure the OP is very satisfied with the result.