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CEO Who Fired Workers Over Zoom Is Taking Time Off

Better.com's board made the announcement about Vishal Garg internally on Friday
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2021 11:14 AM CST
Updated Dec 11, 2021 6:02 AM CST
Better.com CEO to Staff: Sorry About Zoom Firing
Screenshot from video of Garg's termination announcement.   (Twitter)

(Newser) Update: The CEO who shot to infamy last week after opting to fire 900 workers during a brief Zoom call is "taking time off." The board of mortgage lender Better.com announced in an internal email on Friday that Vishal Garg would be taking a break "effective immediately" after the "very regrettable events." Vice has a copy of the email, which notes that an independent outside firm will be conducting a leadership and cultural assessment of the company. In its report on Garg's break, the New York Times spoke to one fired employee who said his severance was increased from one month's pay to two on Thursday—and that he had gotten a Christmas package made up of a trophy, certificate, and T-shirt. Our original story from Dec. 8 follows:

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The consensus seems to be that Vishal Garg's idea to fire 900 Better.com workers last week over a Zoom call wasn't a great idea, and now he's acknowledging the same. The CEO has posted a message on his company's website saying how "deeply sorry" he is for how he carried out the termination of 9% of the company's workers, which he said "made a difficult situation worse." CBS News notes the apology is addressed to those staffers still employed by Better.com and that it's not clear if Garg has directly apologized to those he laid off.

"I failed to show the appropriate amount of respect and appreciation for the individuals who were affected and for their contributions to Better," Garg said in his mea culpa. "I own the decision to do the layoffs, but in communicating it I blundered the execution. In doing so, I embarrassed you." One of the fired employees says the Zoom firing was a "surreal" experience, made worse by the fact that, as he was trying to find out more after the termination announcement, access to his company phone, email, and computer were all cut off. "It was one of those things that you don't believe it's going to happen," former Better underwriter Christian Chapman, the sole breadwinner for his family of seven, tells CNN Business.

On the Blind community app for workplaces, someone else made their feelings known, posting what they called "Vishal's joke of an apology." "Hilarious and expected," one commenter noted under that post. As far as "expected" goes, Chapman tells CNN that although he was surprised about the firing, he'd become used to Garg's "outbursts." Forbes, meanwhile, last year got its hands on an email from Garg to employees that stated, in part: "HELLO—WAKE UP BETTER TEAM. ... You are TOO DAMN SLOW. You are a bunch of DUMB DOLPHINS and…DUMB DOLPHINS get caught in nets and eaten by sharks. ... YOU ARE EMBARRASSING ME." (Read more apology stories.)

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