A worker went viral on TikTok after exposing her former boss’ attempt to fire her without approval from upper management.
The worker, Samantha Lee (@samanthamtlee13), posted several screenshots of her email conversations with her boss alongside memes illustrating her disbelief. As of Jan. 26, her video garnered nearly 5 million views.
In the first screenshot, Lee’s boss writes that “there may have been a misunderstanding.” She informs Lee that she is expected to come to work during the following two weeks, which Lee requested off for a family matter. Addressing the personal issue, the boss adds, “I could not give you leave but am very sorry about your grandfather and wish your family my condolences.”
The TikToker then shows her email reply to her supervisor. She tells her boss that she informed her “several weeks” ago of the time she would take off for her family emergency.
“I apologize for any inconvenience but my priorities are to be with my family,” she writes.
Lee also notes that part-time employees like her are not required to “request” time off. They are only required to inform management of when they cannot work, which she did.
After Lee’s reply, her boss responds, “this will most likely be fine due to bereavement leave.” She says management is scheduling another worker to fill in for Lee, and she plans to see Lee back at work after her two-week leave.
Lee thought that would be the end of the discussion—but she was wrong. Her boss sent another email, this time from her personal email address rather than her work account.
In the email, Lee’s boss says she understands Lee’s frustration and desire to attend to family matters.
“I too had a grandparent pass away while I was working abroad and couldn’t attend the funeral, so I can empathize a little bit,” the boss writes. “Although I couldn’t approve your request, I wish I could have. At this time, we are severely understaffed, and it was not possible.”
Lee’s boss continues to say she “believes” management and HR have decided to terminate Lee and promises “more details” will come in a letter from HR.
“Personally, I wish this did not have to end this way,” Lee’s boss writes. “I wish you the best in your future endeavors. If you need any advice or need someone to listen, I would be happy to lend an ear.”
Lee says she waited “days” for HR to contact her, but they never did. So, she reached out to them for clarification.
The screenshot of HR’s reply says Lee should contact her supervisors about her return to work date. At that, Lee replies, informing HR that her boss told her she was terminated.
“I have CC’d my supervisors on this email as well because there seems to be some confusion,” Lee states at the end of the email.
HR responds, saying that the department “did not advise or confirm a termination.” Again, the representative tells Lee to connect with her direct supervisors about when to return to work.
Several viewers couldn’t believe Lee’s boss, especially her attempt to fire Lee from her personal email.
“Sending the ‘termination’ email from her personal email as if it would cover her tracks is so sketchy,” one viewer wrote.
“I KNEW something was up when she sent the personal email THEY HATE WHEN WE KNOW OUR RIGHTS! You are so well spoken you handled it beautifully,” a second commented.
A third wrote, “Sent it personally so you would think you were fired, not show up, and then you actually get fired for [no call, no show]. She didn’t think you’d verify smh.”
Some viewers couldn’t understand Lee’s boss’ desire to terminate the worker after saying the company was “understaffed.”
“‘We’re understaffed!’ ‘you’re fired’ how does firing someone when you are understaffed help you at all,” one user commented.
“Also, omg it is ALWAYS ‘we’re understaffed!’ like… why do you think have such bad employee retention bffr,” another wrote.
Others reassured the TikToker that she was right for choosing not to call her time off notice a “request.”
“I tell my boss that when I put in a time off request, it’s not a request, it’s my time and it’s me telling them they need to find coverage,” one viewer commented.
Another wrote, “You don’t need permission to take time off. You tell them you are taking leave and it’s their job to find coverage. We don’t need their approval.”
Some users questioned how Lee scheduled time off in advance for a “family emergency,” but the TikToker addressed those questions in a comment on her video.
“I said I told her when he was admitted to the hospital and couldn’t leave right then,” the TikToker wrote. “Family emergency: grandpa going to the hospital. I didn’t go home immediately but booked my flights so they would have time to find someone else.”
The Daily Dot reached out to Samantha Lee via email and TikTok comment.