Posted by: Admin | October 1, 2009

“Sorry, There’s Nothing I Can Do”

If you’re unemployed, this might be a phrase that you’ve heard uttered once or maybe even twice. 

Or, it can come directly from your Manager or HR person at your previous employer.  And, let me be the first to admit.. this is the one that stings the most… probably because they could indeed help me if they WANTED to.

Here’s why this topic is coming up for me after 3 months of unemployment. 

There Goes My Nest Egg

There Goes My Nest Egg

You’d think I’d want nothing to do with (old company) after they so graciously kicked me to the curb.. and you’d be right.  But, I am still tied to them in some ways simply because I’ve been slack at wrapping up a few items from my old job.   Most notably my 401k rollover.
Here’s how this conversation went with my reluctant HR Manager. 


Me:  “I need to rollover my 401k and as I started thinking about details today, it brought me to a few questions”

HR: “You don’t need to call me about a rollover, you should deal directly with the finance company that manages the money”

Me: “I understand that however, my question relates to you (old employer) and I don’t feel that the finance company will be able to answer it”

HR: heavy sigh “Ok, what’s your question”

Me:  “Well, I was reading through the paperwork that I was given when I first signed up and it says that all employer matched contributions to my 401k only vest after 3 years of employment.”

HR: “Yes, that’s correct”

Me:  “Ok, well, as you know, my employment, through no fault of my own, ended prior to that 3 year requirement”

HR: “Yes”

Me:  wow, she’s being really helpful… “Well, I want to know if you’ve made any special considerations for these amounts to automatically vest for those of us who were let go.. I mean after all, the money is already deposited in my account.  And, I didn’t choose to leave my job”

HR: “Well, that’s not how the policy works.. you need to remain an employee for 3 years”

Me: “I know that’s not how it was set up to work, but I’m sure you weren’t considering lay offs at the time.  And, I also know that all details of a lay off package are open for modification if you (old company) so chooses”

HR: “I could talk to the owner (of old company) but the policy is the policy”

Me: “Look, (old company) was a small company and the owner is completely involved with every detail, I’m sure that if he decided he wanted to take care of his ex-employees in any way, he’d see that this is an exception to the policy that should be made”.

HR: “Let me look into it”

So, I was basically just told that as I rollover my retirements savings to an IRA,  I will get a check for my portion and ex-employer will get a check for their refunded amount.  Congratulations ex-employer.. you have not only saved the cost of my salary, but now I’m going to send you a check of “my money”.

She does indeed call me back:

HR:  “I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do.  You need to work here 3 years for those amounts to vest”

Me:  “Thanks for nothing… you guys sure do know how to screw someone over huh?”

Just Like Throwing Money Out The Window

Just Like Throwing Money Out The Window

I have to admit, I’m pissed.   Even 3 months after I leave, they are still finding ways to remind me of how much it sucked to lose my job. 

And yes, as I make phone calls today to transfer money, after my happy day yesterday…..I’m back to being bitter. 

These mood swings are going to kill me!



  1. Oh my holy GOD this is insane! How is it legal that an employer can decided to only vest your 401K contributions if you work for them for 3 years?

    This country is completely CRAZY!

    • IBC

      Just to make sure we’re on the same page… personal contributions are vested immediately but anything that they’ve contributed on my behalf (they were matching 50% of my contributions up to 6% of my salary) doesn’t vest for 3 years! (but it still feels pretty crappy!!!)

  2. If enough people were laid off during the same year your plan may experience a “partial plan termination”,,id=151798,00.html which by law requires your employer to 100% vest everyone who was laid off. I’d write a letter to them and copy in the DOL.

    • rbechtel… This is GREAT information. Thank you so much, I’ll definitely be doing some research!

  3. My situation was full vesting at 6 years. I was laid off 2 months before the 6 year mark. So klassy. I feel your pain.

  4. AH! Isn’t it soo frustrating. I’ve had multiple situations like that myself. Including the very same one you had – my 401K vested at 20% per year – my termination date was 45 days shy of my anniversary date and they said “sorry, nothing we can do” – to which I replied, ‘yeah, but you quit me, I didn’t quit you’ – they didn’t care.
    Funny enough: I blogged about HR people (and how rude they can be) today too:
    I am loving reading your blog!

    • Julie.. funny enough, I think I was leaving you a message on your blog at the exact same time you were reading this! It truly is beyond frustrating sometimes. Especially when you begin to feel like there’s not only no loyalty in the workplace anymore, but that there really isn’t anyone in your corner but you!

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