Drug Maker Defends Mass Layoff by Conference Call

December 22, 2010 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – News that pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis laid off 1,700 employees via conference call has garnered emotional headlines and blog responses.

But, the company stands by its decision. “We acknowledged in the call that delivering this news on a teleconference wasn’t ideal, but given the scope and scale of the reductions, there was no other way to share this news quickly and consistently,” Jack Cox, the senior director of media relations for Sanofi-Aventis, told the Huffington Post.  

According to news reports, employees received emails instructing them to call in to a conference on December 2 either at 8:00 a.m. or 8:30 a.m.  Those who called in at 8:30 were told to stop working immediately. The employees were told they would be paid through December 31, and given a severance package.  

While employees may have felt slighted, Cox said: “Rather than cascade these announcements and stretch the notifications over the course of days, we decided to address these colleagues at one time, to explain the rationale for the reductions, and express appreciation for the contributions they’ve made to the organization.”