Layoff tactics | Stellantis enforced "mandatory remote work day" before conducting virtual mass firing

Stellantis enforced

Stellantis told 400 salaried, nonunion employees to work from home the day before firing them over a virtual video call.

In a memo sent on March 21, revealed by a user on X, the car manufacturer said to employees: “On Friday, March 22nd, we will be holding important operational meetings that require specific attention and participation.”

“To ensure everyone can effectively participate we have decided to implement a mandatory remote work day for all U.S. Salaried Non-Bargaining Unit (NBU) employees in Engineering & Technology organization,” the note continues.

The employees were told to work from home unless otherwise instructed by the manager.

During a remote meeting on Friday, 400 salaried NBU employees – 2% of Stellantis’ global workforce - were informed they were laid off on a remote video call.

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According to one anonymous mechanical engineering employee who was laid off, “It was a mass firing of everybody that was on the call.”

In an email statement, Stellantis cited “unprecedented uncertainties and heightened competitive pressures around the world,” as the reason for making “appropriate structural decisions across the enterprise to improve efficiency and optimize our cost structure.” 

“These actions will better align resources while preserving the critical skills needed to protect our competitive advantage,” the statement adds.

The company has informed employees it will offer workers a separation package and help with the transition, and last year offered buyout and early retirement packages to around 6,400 salaried NBU employees.

CEO Carlos Tavares has consistently stated intentions to cut costs as the business shifts toward electrical vehicle production, which Tavares says is more expensive than making gasoline-powered cars.

Virtual ‘mass firing’

Is there a good way to be laid off?

There are mixed responses to the increasingly popular ‘virtual’ layoff call. The tweet that leaked the memo, for example, sparked discussion about Stellantis’ methods. One user said “My company did it just like that. Much easier (and preferred by most employees).”

Others described it as “another Zoom blunder,” and suggested it was a cop-out made by “weak leaders that don't want confrontation in person.”

There have been multiple other instances of employers coming under fire for opting to lay off workers via Zoom. Vishal Garg, CEO of Better.com, faced backlash on social media after firing 900 employees over a Zoom call. He later apologized for failing to show “the appropriate amount of respect and appreciation for the individual,” admitting he “blundered the execution.”

Uber, Klarna, Goldman Sachs, and many other employers have all announced layoff via video call or using pre-recorded video messages.

Some experts have said that despite the backlash, in some cases this approach is a fairer approach to communicating a consistent message across multiple locations and time zones – so long as it is followed up with individual consultation and support, as appears to be the case with Stellantis.

However, it appears employees, particularly in the tech industry, are now well versed in spotting the signs of an impending layoff, including announcing a mandatory remote work day.

“Sounds like some serious layoffs via Zoom,” one X user successfully predicted after the memo was leaked. “Mandatory Remote Day is when management is letting go of so many people, security can't handle them all,” proposed another.

“In tech that’s always code preparation for sizable layoffs,” added a third.

Employers may need to consider the fact that employees will see through notices about mandatory remote work days and expect the worst. When employees do expect layoffs, even 24 hours in advance, cases of misbehavior – such as data theft – can skyrocket.



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