A woman has sparked a debate after secretly recording a nine-minute video of herself getting laid off from her job.
Brittany Pietsch shared a video to TikTok on 12 January to document how she was let go from her job at Cloudflare, a computer and network security company. At the start of the nine-minute video, she noted that she had a feeling the conversation was coming, since her “coworkers [had] been getting random 15-minute calls all day”. She also specified that her close friend from work had been laid off “30 minutes” before she started recording that call.
She went on to note, in the text over the video, that she had about “10 minutes to compose” herself, before it was her turn to get laid off. The video then continued with two people on Cloudare’s HR team introducing themselves to Pietsch.
“I got let go by two people I didn’t know: a woman from HR and a director man I’ve never heard of,” Pietsch wrote. “I wanted to stand up for myself because what did I have to lose?”
After one of the HR workers told Pietsch that after finishing “evaluations of 2023 performance”, they added that had “not met Cloudflare expectations for performance”, and the company was deciding “to part ways with” her.
The woman then cut the HR worker by describing some of the hard work she’s done for Cloudflare since being hired.
“So, I started August 25th, I’ve been on a three-month ramp and then it was three weeks of December,” she said, as a sales ramp measures how long it takes a new hire to reach full productivity. “And then a week of Christmas and then here we are. I have had the highest activity amongst my team,” she said.
Pietsch also claimed that during every one-on-one with her manager, he’s been telling her that she’s “doing a great job”. From there, she continued to hit back at the claim that she was being let go due to her work performance.
“I have had great activity, I have really great meetings, I’m picking up the products very quickly, and things have been going really really well, I make really great relationships with my clients,” she said. “So I disagree that my performance hasn’t been–I haven’t met performance expectations, when I certainly have.”
She then questioned why her manager wasn’t the one to do that call, claiming that her manager had “no idea” that she was being laid off. Pietsch once again asked for an explanation about why she was being let go, before the HR manager told her that she’d “follow up separately” with an answer. When Pietsch asked if that answer could be had during the call, the HR manager denied the request.
Pietsch’s video continued with her telling the HR workers that she saw the call coming, after knowing how “extremely frustrated and upset” her peers were after being let go. She then criticised the HR workers for how they were allegedly laying employees off.
“I know you guys must not be able to understand that,” she said, referring to her former co-workers’ frustrations about the situation. “It must be very easy for you to just have these little 10 minute, 15 minute meetings. Tell someone that they’re fired, completely wreck their whole life, and that’s it with no explanation. That’s extremely traumatising for people, if you can imagine that.”
She emphasised that the lay-off was “very, very shocking”, since she gave “[her] whole energy and life to the job”. After noting that getting let out without a reason was “a slap in the face”, one of the HR workers said that while she understood Pietsch’s feelings, she couldn’t give an explanation for the layoff.
“I’ll be honest with you, there’s nothing we’re going to say in this call in the time that we have that’s going to undo the way that you feel right in this moment,” the HR worker said. “I personally will do everything that I can to give you as much specific information as I can after this call.”
Pietsch once again reflected on the “constant praise” from her managers and “the great meetings” she had, to address her confusion about why she was being let go. The HR worker claimed that while she couldn’t speak for what Pietsch’s manager had previously, she just said that she was “being let go for poor performance based on [her] attainment and leading indicators of data”.
The TikTok user then asked for an explanation of those “performance metrics,” before the HR workers said they couldn’t get into the specifics. She then asked them if they were really aware of why people were being let go.
“Do you guys even know who you’re talking to each day? Every single 10, 15 minutes,” she said. “Like why you’re letting these people go. When you don’t even understand that kind of work and everything they put it…It just doesn’t make any sense that you guys have still not been able to give me a reason why I’m being let go.”
The video concluded with the HR managers reiterating that there was “nothing they could say” that could change Pietsch’s feelings, before she agreed to move on with the next steps of the layoff process.
Pietsch’s video has quickly gone viral on social media, as it has received more than 22.8m views when posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. In the comments of the video on TikTok, many people went on to praise Pietsch for posting the call and standing up for herself during it. They also criticised Cloudflare for the way they laid her off.
“SO proud of you! Firing someone because of poor performance and not being able to cite any performance metrics is BS,” one wrote.
“You were very composed and respectful. I think HR everywhere has no clue and idk how they live w themselves,” another wrote.
A third added: “You did so well in an impossible conversation/situation. Their vague corporate jargon drove me insane. I hope you find the employer you deserve!”
On the other hand, some people on X had a different take on the situation, as they questioned Pietsch for deciding to publicly share the phone call.
“This feels icky to watch. Oddly voyeuristic. Some conversations are meant to be private,” one wrote, while another added: “The points she made were valid, but it’s a bad career move to post this online…”
“Getting fired is tough, but it’s important to handle it with dignity,” another added. “Firing someone is also hard, requiring compassion and respect. Total disaster on both sides here.”
After Pietsch’s video went viral, Cloudflare’s CEO, Matthew Prince, took to X to discuss the layoff, noting that his company fired “40 salespeople out of over 1,500” during its last quarter.
“When we’re doing performance management right, we can often tell within 3 months or less of a sales hire, even during the holidays, whether they’re going to be successful or not,” he wrote. “Sadly, we don’t hire perfectly.”
He then specified that Pietsch’s video as “painful” for him to watch, noting “managers should always be involved” in the process of their employees being laid off.
“HR should be involved, but it shouldn’t be outsourced to them, No employee should ever actually be surprised they weren’t performing. We don’t always get it right,” he wrote. “And sometimes underperforming employees don’t actually listen to the feedback they’ve gotten before we let them go.”
Prince concluded the post by expressing his regrets about how Pietsch’s layoff was handled, writing: “We definitely weren’t anywhere close to perfect in this case. But any healthy org needs to get the people who aren’t performing off. That wasn’t the mistake here. The mistake was not being more kind and humane as we did.”
The Independent has contacted Pietsch and a representative for Cloudflare for comment.