Taken advantage of in a foreign country

My belief in the start-up model has been on the rocks for a while. ‘The Mission‘ convinces us to dedicate ourselves in the interest of investors & being a ‘family’ makes us feel part of something greater than just a corporation. Yet this week has been the final nail in the coffin.

If I ever wanted evidence that founders & investors do not usually give a shit about employees, then the violation of my employment contract is a clear-cut example.

In short, I was fired on Friday via email, with no explanation of the cause.

Dismissal without explanation is not only a cowardly move, but one that, under German law, is illegal. You must provide 4 weeks notice in all cases other than exceptional circumstances. I’ve done nothing ‘exceptional’ recently, so can only interpret this immediate termination as an attempt to avoid paying earnings they are contractually obliged to pay.

Maybe it’s because I’m new to Germany & they think I am naïve enough to not have looked into German law?

Whatever the reason, any violation of the bedrock of workers’ rights, an employment contract, is legally & morally abhorrent. It is the one thing that protects us, the little people, from the superior power of a corporation.

Yet it doesn’t surprise me one bit. Neither the way it was enacted – just a short email – nor the violation of my contract.

Part of the reason I had been deciding to leave had been a previous violation of my contract: an attempt to short-change me on the number of holiday days allocated in my contract. I derided the claim that I had, in fact, signed an ‘old contract’ & was therefore not entitled to my full, contractual holiday quota. I was unaware that was how contracts worked.

So it would even be expected – rather than a surprise – that a contract violation would occur again.


The lesson I take away with me is this:

One action reveals a company’s true nature. Don’t allow yourself to excuse that behaviour as the exception. Be aware that it is probably the rule.

Trampling over my employment contract has happened twice to me, so it is likely to have happened to others. Yet no-one speaks out or knows what to do about it.

True, I was taking action to extricate myself by setting up a new business, but I should have cut ties immediately, rather than allow myself to be dragged along for another few months.

There is never a perfect time to start a business or quit your job, so when you know it’s time, you must take action.

Rather than a clean-break, I find myself caught up in legal worries & with a sense of disgust at my whole experience with the company.




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