Former Better.com staff describe their shock and disbelief after being abruptly fired on Zoom

·3 min read
Vishal Garg ceo better
Better.com CEO Vishal Garg fired 900 employees on a Zoom call.Better.com
  • Laid-off Better.com staff said the Zoom mass firing came as a total shock to them.

  • Some ex-employees told Motherboard that the company cut off their work devices before firing them.

  • Another former worker told The Daily Beast: "They dumped us like trash."

Former Better.com employees say they were shocked when the company's CEO unexpectedly fired them in a now-infamous Zoom call.

Vishal Garg told 900 employees in a three-minute call on December 1 they were being laid off, "effective immediately."

"They dumped us like trash," a former employee told The Daily Beast. "We were there since the beginning and worked hard for the company and for our roles."

Misty Morin, a former employee at the digital-mortgage firm's Charlotte office, told WCNC: "We're all left gutted, and like just heartbroken before the holidays." She added that Garg had shown a "lack of humanity."

Demi Knight Clark, another former employee at Better.com's Charlotte office, told WCNC: "I think everyone was just in a state of disbelief."

Christian Chapman, a former underwriter, told the BBC that the whole experience was "very callous" and "excruciating."

He said that he hadn't expected Garg to announce layoffs in the call. According to Garg, he'd had a positive performance-review call with his manager earlier that morning. He told CBS that he'd been promoted in June and given a pay rise in October.

The Zoom firing was like a "kick in the gut," Chapman told CBS. "Is this capitalism at its worst?"

Morin and Chapman both said that they were cut off from their work computers almost immediately after the call. Chapman told CNN he'd had to quiz ex-colleagues about the mass firing via Facebook.

Sources told The Daily Beast that some of the laid-off staff members hadn't been able to attend the meeting and weren't sure why their devices suddenly stopped working. Others were on vacation and weren't immediately aware that they'd been fired.

Some former employees told Vice's Motherboard that they actually lost access to their devices before the call and were unable to join.

"I wasn't even aware I got fired," one ex-employee told Motherboard.

A Better.com spokesperson told the site that on the day of the call, the company tried to reach workers individually who hadn't attended the meeting. The company did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment, made outside of working hours.

Some ex-employees are scrambling to find jobs

Morin told WCNC that she and some of her former colleagues who were also laid off had been sending each other job listings. Knight Clark said that she'd worked with the City of Charlotte's Economic Development Team to plan an upcoming virtual job fair purely for former Better.com staff.

One laid-off employee told The Daily Beast that she was 25 weeks pregnant and due in March.

"I don't know what I am going to do once my insurance ends," the ex-employee said. "Do I look for a new job while being so close to my due date? Let's be realistic, employers are not going to want to hire someone who is 25 weeks pregnant and [has] to go on leave in three months."

A company source told the outlet that laid-off American employees would get healthcare coverage through February.

In a leaked video shared with Insider, Garg told remaining staff that the company had hired the "wrong people" and "should have done what we did today three months ago."

Garg also accused "at least 250" terminated staff members of stealing from the company by working just hours a day, Fortune first reported.

He later apologized to remaining staff, saying he had "blundered the execution" of the layoffs.

Since announcing the mass layoffs, Better's top marketing, PR, and communications executives have resigned, Insider reported.

Do you work at Better? Do you have a story to share about working there or insight into its layoffs? Contact reporter Alex Nicoll via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 (646) 768-4772 using a non-work phone, email at anicoll@insider.com, or Twitter DM at @AlexONicoll.

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