The Viral Layoff
You might want to keep in mind that more employees are choosing to record their layoffs and share them on social media.
Here are today’s highlights:
That new rule for 1099s? Gene Marks says you can ignore it.
Some big companies are still trying to insist, but the five-day club is shrinking.
A new book documents the South’s fading tradition for gas-station food.
At a Mexican restaurant in Phoenix, TikTok drives pretty much everything: “AZ Taco King first went viral when someone posted a TikTok of the birria ramen sold from their taco cart. Three months later, business owner Ilse Jazmin Valenzula Sears and her husband, Samuel, were able to open their first brick-and-mortar. Sears said it was a challenge at first, as she and her husband had to manage an influx of customers who were showing them pictures of exactly what they saw on the app, wanting the same thing. But TikTok then became a vital part of her business plan, and she launched her own account @aztaco.king about a year later in 2021.”
“She said it does get a bit overwhelming to consistently post on TikTok or other social media, especially since they have multiple locations to manage, but she stressed the importance of posting every day, replying to comments, and answering questions.”
“‘We can tell the difference if I didn't post videos for a couple of days, you could definitely tell the difference in the sales right away,’ Sears said. ‘People come to the restaurant and the first thing they do is pull out their TikTok and say this is what I want or explain to us, TikTok sent me here.’”
“The content Sears records for TikTok includes making the food and day-to-day moments in the restaurants, where she's also the quality control critic in the kitchen. She wants to ensure that the quality of food that people see on TikTok translates to the food they eat in person. That’s something they emphasize to all their employees.”
“After the success of AZ Taco King, Sears experimented with opening a new business based on what was trending on the social media platform: a snack shop called AZ Frescas. It all started when she saw that Chamoy pickles were trending on TikTok.” READ MORE
Gene Marks says companies should just ignore the new rules on contracting: “A new rule from the Department of Labor goes into effect on March 11, and it will have a significant impact on my company and millions of other businesses around the country. The rule updates the testing requirements for determining whether or not a freelancer or independent contractor should be classified as an employee. It reverses the prior test established by the Trump administration and updates a number of guidelines, the most concerning of which requires employers to determine whether or not a contractor is ‘integral’ to the operations of a business.”
“For many companies — like mine — that rely on independent contractors to perform certain core processes or provide services to their customers, this one factor could mean that we would have to classify those independent contractors as employees.”
“One strategy is to ignore it. Here are four reasons why. The first is that the new rule is being contested in the courts. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is considering a lawsuit to stop the regulation from taking effect. But they’ll have to stand in line. A lawsuit was filed this month by a group of freelancers and three business groups — The Coalition for Workforce Innovation, Associated Builders and Contractors, and the Financial Services Institute — have immediately revived their lawsuit against the regulation.
“Roger Williams, who chairs the House of Representatives Committee on Small Business, wrote a public letter to the acting Secretary of Labor, Julie Su, pleading for an exemption for small businesses like mine. Mr. Williams pointed to a report from the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, which concluded that the rule would threaten ‘the livelihood of many small business owners by re-implementing a confusing multifactor analysis to determine whether a worker is an IC or an employee.’” READ MORE
More employees are recording their layoffs and sharing them on social media: “Companies need to realize that anything can be recorded and shared, in an age when people are increasingly comfortable posting things online, said Lindsey Pollack, an author of career books on multigenerational workplaces. She sees it as a positive that people are sharing layoff experiences and doesn’t think it will hurt their future chances of employment. In one case, Matthew Prince, the chief executive of the cybersecurity company Cloudflare, responded on X this month to a nine-minute TikTok video of a firing at his firm. He defended the decision to fire the worker but said the company should have been ‘more kind and humane.’”
“As companies from the start-up Discord to Google have shed hundreds of jobs in recent weeks, some tech workers are taking to social media to share their layoff experiences, and many of these videos have gone viral. They show people crying as they talk with human resources or going through their daily routine knowing a mysterious appointment on their calendar is likely to result in their termination.”
“Joni Bonnemort, 38, of Salt Lake City, filmed herself crying as a credit repair company laid her off from her marketing job in April. She planned to share the video only with her family but posted it to TikTok after finding out that the company had paid out bonuses to the remaining staff a week after conducting layoffs. The video racked up more than 1.4 million views and supportive comments.”
“Vanessa Burbano, a professor at Columbia Business School who studies how company practices influence employee behavior, said remote work had emboldened people to speak out online: ‘The interaction between individuals and their company has just fundamentally shifted with the increase of remote work.’” READ MORE
While a handful of big companies are insisting upon a full return to the office, the five-day club is shrinking: “The push for in-person attendance Monday through Friday reflects a desire among top executives to fully repopulate offices and to return to pre-pandemic ways of working. Some CEOs say it is unfair for corporate employees to do their jobs remotely part of the time while front-line staffers must show up daily. During contentious labor negotiations at United Parcel Service last year, union officials said drivers and warehouse staffers resented working in-person while office employees could stay at home.”
“It is still relatively uncommon for large employers to require corporate staff in person full time. In the Fortune 500, 82 percent of employers offer at least some remote-work opportunities, according to data from Scoop Technologies, a software firm that tracks return-to-office efforts.”
“An analysis from Stanford University economics professor Nicholas Bloom and colleagues found that Americans spent about 30 percent of their paid days working from home in January 2024, largely the same from a year earlier.”
“The five-day club appears to be shrinking. The number of companies requiring full-time attendance dropped to 38 percent at the end of 2023 from 49 percent at the start of the year, according to Scoop.” READ MORE
Business groups are suing California to block climate-disclosure requirements for big companies: “Signed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in October, the law directs companies to calculate and disclose a range of emissions from their own operations, as well as those of their suppliers and customers. Thousands of publicly traded and private firms that do business in California and have at least $1 billion in annual revenue are expected to have to comply. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Farm Bureau Federation filed the lawsuit in a Los Angeles federal court Tuesday alongside four California business groups. They argue that the law violates First Amendment protections against compelled speech and that California is attempting to act as a national emissions regulator.”
“California’s law is the first of its kind in the U.S., but more jurisdictions around the world are asking companies to estimate their greenhouse-gas outputs. The idea often is to help investors and the public discern which companies are acting to address climate change and positioning themselves for a future in which emissions are regulated more tightly.”
“The Securities and Exchange Commission is working to complete a proposed rule that would require publicly traded companies to disclose their emissions in securities filings, along with other climate-related information. A recent European Union law on corporate sustainability would require thousands of U.S. companies—public and private—to report their greenhouse-gas outputs.
“California and Europe will ask them to look beyond their own operations and include the carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gasses generated by their suppliers and customers. The information would show any difference between the emissions impacts of, for instance, an electric-car manufacturer and an automaker that sells mostly gasoline-powered vehicles.” READ MORE
In the South, rural gas stations have their own culinary tradition: “New York City has its bodegas. The South has its gas stations. When you stop for motor oil in Mississippi, you can also grab fried chicken on a stick. In North Carolina, you can buy a steamy bowl of pozole along with batteries and a five-pound bag of White Lily flour. There might be shawarma next to the shotgun shells, or wedges of mild hoop cheese and packets of saltines for sale at the counter along with lottery tickets and pecan pie that the owner’s sister made.”
“Documenting these independent Southern temples of commerce and community has become a singular focus for the photojournalist Kate Medley, who, like most kids raised in Mississippi, grew up eating at rural gas stations.”
“A dozen years ago, Ms. Medley discovered a Citgo in Durham that had become a Nicaraguan place called the Latin America Food Restaurant. She developed a theory: ‘I thought I could chart the emerging immigrant foodways of the South by way of what was happening in the backs of these gas stations.’”
“Now living in Durham, N.C., Ms. Medley, 42, has spent more than a decade collecting images for her book of photographs, ‘Thank You Please Come Again,’ which the digital magazine The Bitter Southerner published in December.”
“The book began with a journalist’s curiosity, but ended up as a way for a daughter of the Deep South to make sense of the beautiful, brutal, complicated place she came from.” READ MORE
THE 21 HATS PODCAST
Have We Been Too Generous With Employees? This week, Mel Gravely, Jaci Russo, and William Vanderbloemen talk about the possibility that, after several years of the Great Resignation and the labor shortage, some owners may have given away the store. We all know the risks of not offering employees enough. What are the risks of offering too much? How do you even know when you’ve crossed the line? The owners also discuss why this might be a good time to consider acquiring other businesses. “I think this is a time to double-down,” says Mel. And Jaci explains how she and her team are reviewing everything the company does to see if AI can be employed to improve each and every process.
Plus: How exactly, in this day and age, are business owners supposed to keep track of all of the subscriptions—and all of the subscription log-ins—that they and their employees have acquired through the years? How much money are they spending on stuff they no longer use? “Thanks a lot,” responds Mel. “I’m starting to sweat.”
You can subscribe to the 21 Hats Podcast wherever you get podcasts.
Thanks for reading, everyone. — Loren