I really like the show “Burn Notice.” I was a fan from the pilot episode, and thought the concept was interesting. But recently I’ve begun to notice things, and when I pair those with ideas from the classic Goffman essay “On Cooling the Mark Out” http://www.tau.ac.il/~algazi/mat/Goffman--Cooling.htm, I come up with some disturbing conclusions. I think more and more employers are going this route. There are no explanations, no discussions, merely a preemptive termination of employment.
I think it’s not even that formal, especially with regards to adjunct faculty. They aren’t terminated, they’re simply not hired back. And I think it’s a tactic that more employers would like to use.
A friend recently had this happen to her. She was anticipating returning to teach, and willing to make a long commute, but the department chair at the school simply refused to hire her back. No explanation, no conversation, not even the courtesy of informing her in any way. All communications went unheeded, as if they had become lost in a digital sea.
This passive form of firing may cut down on confrontations. It may be more efficient, but it’s still a lousy move.
And what now? With such passive termination, doesn’t it also carry with it a radioactivity. After all, Michael Westen couldn’t walk up to the FBI or NSA and apply for a job.