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Kicked to the Curb by Text: A New Way to Be Fired

WFTV(NEW YORK) -- Employees of an Italian restaurant in Winter Park, Fla., say they were fired from their jobs not in person, or by phone, but by text message, ABC News affiliate WFTV reports.

Jodi Jackson, now an ex-employee of Barducci's Italian Bistro, denounced owner Gregory Kennedy's method for delivering the bad news, telling WFTV, "I think it's immoral.  I think it's cowardice."

The text message she received on July 4, she told the station, began, "Jodi, I unfortunately need to inform you that I have been forced to close Barducci's effective immediately."

Kennedy then went on to say that, despite his best efforts, "There were circumstances I was not able to address."  He wished her "all the best."  Any final payroll checks would be attended to, he wrote, "after the accounting has been finalized."

Efforts by ABC News to get comment from Jackson and from Kennedy were not successful.  WFTV says it tried repeatedly to reach Kennedy by phone.  Eventually they heard back from him -- by email.

"Unfortunately businesses are forced to close across Orlando every day especially in the restaurant sector," he wrote.  "I am working to resolve issues including final paychecks as quickly as possible."

Deborah Keary, vice president of the Society for Human Resource Management, tells ABC News she finds such behavior on the part of an employer appalling.

"The only reason I can think to do it," she says, referring to firing people all at once by text or email, "is to get the same news out at the same time.  That way, you stop rumors from starting."

Asked if there might be a right and a wrong way to fire someone via email, Keary says: "I can't think of a right way, unless you followed up with a phone call to each of them to tell them how valued they are and how unfortunate it is the business can't survive; to tell them that you cared about them, and where they might look for another job."

Firing somebody, she says, is a highly personal transaction -- not something to be done at arm's length.

She allows it's only natural for people -- including senior managers -- to want to avoid conflict.  But to avoid it by using email or text is to show the other person disrespect.

"Text should be used for telling your kids it's time for dinner; not to tell employees their livelihood is being taken away," Keary says.

"You don't want to insult them," she says.  "They'll complain.  They'll get representation."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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