She handed me a printout of the email. It was amazingly short for something attempting to end my career.
Basically, the claims office of my former insurance company employer, wrote a note to my brand spanking new employer 2 days before I showed up for my first day of work there. In effect, it stated that they refused to work with me, I was blacklisted, and nothing of theirs should be given to me to work on. There was a phone call or two that the managing attorney admitted to me as well. But the end result was that he decided I was radioactive and maybe I would just disappear on my own if he ignored me.
Before I go farther, I will say that when I left the insurance company, it was on good terms. I had been offered a ridiculously good career move which I would have been insane to decline. I had a small going away party from the other attorneys… I honestly counted them all as friends. I found out the below piecemeal over several months.
The insurance company’s legal office had been expanding and the managing attorney was having difficulty managing the office and the seams were showing a bit, we were crushed with work which was unrelenting and we kept getting empty promises of more help coming ‘soon’; that and a particularly good job market meant several attorneys and staff ended up jumping ship to better and higher paying positions elsewhere. At the time, I think I was the second attorney out the door of what shortly turned into a small exodus. At the end of it, half of the 20 attorneys in the legal office and about half a dozen paralegals left within the short span of 3 months.
I was aware of some of this. I was still in infrequent contact with people there. I had lunch with them from time to time because they were friends. They knew when I got shafted from the BigLaw office, and I even got a half-hearted offer to come back.
What I didn’t know was the backend result of everyone leaving. The office, which had been overloading the attorneys with twice the docket of cases as we should have had, could hardly absorb the excess work left when they lost one or two attorneys, let alone half the office. The overflow of cases was sent to the legal office the next large city over to help with… and it swamped them and spilled over to a third larger city attempting to stem the torrent. All referrals by the claims office to the legal office were halted for 6 months and all new cases were sent to outside counsel to handle (expensive!@!). At the end of it all, the insurance company paid out some ridiculous amount over a high 7-figures in legal fees to deal with all their hundreds of overflow case work with outside counsel, as well as an unknown amount in fast settlement of cases which would have otherwise been litigated or minimally litigated to a more acceptable settlement number. In short, they hemorrhaged money over this.
The managing attorney was forced to retire over this ordeal. Apparently, in an attempt to save his job, he pointed the finger at everyone who had already left, stating it must have been a conspiracy to bring down the office… obviously perpetrated by the people who had left.
Relatively fatal to this theory, none of us went to the same firm, nor did we all leave at the same time. Everyone left because they overloaded us with twice the workload that could be reasonably managed, and the job market was booming. My salary was boosted by 1/3 by leaving. It came down to the fact that at the end of the day, they just weren’t a very good employer.
The claims office (which I did not work for) did not see it that way. Apparently everyone who left became persona non-gratis. We were all blacklisted, and some story was generally accepted that we had all left at once to get back at the insurance company for some perceived wrong.
They reached out while I was working for my friend and tried to blacklist me there. When she told them it wasn’t a problem because I was leaving shortly, she made the mistake of telling them where I was going. They then reached out before I even started working at the BigLaw firm to blacklist me there.
I hired an employment attorney.
This did not sit well with my current employer. Suing a current client is rife with sticky ethical problems. The firm was terrified it would lose the contract. On my end of it, I had no other choice. I was being pushed out of the auto defense industry by one of its biggest players for the horrible crime of quitting my job at their company (with like a months notice… the gall.)
This all came to a head when I was called in by the supervising attorney again around month 6. He stated in a rather matter of fact tone that I still wasn’t pulling in the hours I needed to be. I looked around the room at the 3 people in the meeting with me, and realized they were all on the email which had circulated. I suddenly became much calmer and said, “well I guess we can all drop the pretense because we all know why I don’t have any fucking work, don’t we.” The meeting was short. They didn’t have any of the other scheduled meetings that day after mine was over… or if they did they got canceled in a big hurry to call the home office.
If I had little to do before, I had even less to do after that meeting. I spoke with the managing attorney a few times, it went about as well as you might think. Hostile, guarded, paranoid. They apparently decided there was more then enough here for some sort of employment suit so they sat back and decided continuing to pay my salary until I got bored and left was worth the expense. As luck would have it, I still had copies of a lot of information internal to the insurance company, which included email for everyone damn near up to the CEO level – which was a lot of people. A few emails blasted out to high enough levels got their attention along with a letter from my employment attorney. I never wanted to sue them, just to get them to back off and leave me alone. The generic accord of “we’ll leave you alone if you agree not to file an employment suit” was reached. I told them I didn’t want to sue, I just wanted them to stop fucking with my career over someone’s retarded fantasy. It was signed off by a VP in the company whom I knew.
I had already been applying to other jobs since I had been expecting to be fired for months. The first offer I got, I jumped ship. I probably could have continued on there for quite a bit longer, sitting in the far, small office with no work… forgotten and ignored.
I bought myself a red stapler which sits on my desk to this day as a reminder of my time at that firm.