WEIGHT Watchers has been slammed by former employees who claim the company fired thousands of people on a five-minute Zoom call.
Incensed staff members have voiced their frustrations about the abrupt firing online, with some claiming that as many as 4,000 people were let go.
The company, which now goes by WW International Inc., said on Friday it planned to cut jobs worldwide as a cost-cutting measure due to the economic free-fall caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Hours earlier, Weight Watchers had announced it would begin reopening its studios as states around the country begin to lift lockdown orders, USA Today reported.
News of the layoffs first surfaced on May 14 on the discussion board TheLayoff.com, where a former employee claimed thousands of WW workers were laid off via phone call.
Those being fired were muted on an audio-only Zoom call, the former employee claimed, in which employees were read a script before they were "abruptly disconnected".
"I cried for about 24 hours because a company that I respected and valued, devoted my life to, felt I and countless others deserved to be permanently fired with a cold mass script!" the post read.
"What was that? This is supposedly a Wellness Company. Wellness is both mental and physical, and this was abject callous cruelty."
Workers claimed they were muted so that they couldn't ask questions and by the time the call ended, their employee email had already been deleted.
"For supposed champions of women, to FIRE 4,000 dedicated long term mostly women of a certain age bracket during a pandemic in a 3 min phone call is disgusting," wrote one anonymous poster.
Another named Sherron said the fired employees had been asked not to discuss the terminations.
"Oh, and you can't discuss this with anyone. No explanation to members as to why we aren't there anymore," they said.
"No options of furlough, but we could reapply in the future if any positions open. We are being swept under the rug."
Weight Watchers hasn't confirmed the number of employees fired or how many positions were axed.
In a statement to the Huffington Post, WW said on Friday that the coronavirus has forced the company to make "difficult decisions".
"As the COVID-19 crisis has forced the closure of our physical studios around the world, we have had to make some difficult decisions that have directly impacted the lives of some of our valued team members," the company said.
"We thank them for all of their efforts on behalf of our members during their years of service."
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