Corporate Glossary

What I Learned Watching a Co-Worker Get Forced Out

Corporate Glossary: every Friday, learn the secret meaning of common corporate words

Published in
8 min readJan 7, 2022


Photo: Markus Spiske/Unsplash

Every Friday, you get the real meaning behind padded corporate terms that get tossed around like the nice guy’s ball cap in study hall.

Knowing the reality behind the sanitized words or phrases will help you protect yourself and avoid learning these for the first time when you’re experiencing them.

Fair warning: adult language is in use here.

This week’s term: Constructive Discharge.

Our Technical Theatre class met backstage in our high school auditorium in a high-ceilinged storage room converted to an office. Our unconventional teacher had re-purposed it, probably because he’d been there since God was a lad and as a result, he enjoyed a lot of liberties. His “office” was one of them.

Every Friday, we’d wait for the bell, after which he’d stub out his between-class Vantage cigarette, inhale a mouthful of coffee, and begin our weekly vocabulary quiz on ten words from the textbook glossary.

Knowing the language meant we knew the difference between a Fresnel and a follow-spot, the difference between a proscenium and a patch bay. That knowledge empowered us and kept us safe.

That’s the goal here.

My ear to a mobile phone, a lawyer I wasn’t paying for was explaining backroom realities to me, and I was on the edge of my seat because, in over 10 years of scanning my keycard at the door, I was learning some pretty shocking realities for the first time.

“They’re trying to discharge her constructively. Do you know what Constructive Discharge means?” She asked.

As soon as I heard the term ‘Constructive Discharge,’ I knew I’d never seen it on a vocabulary quiz.

“No. What does it mean?” I asked.

She explained.

“Constructive discharge is a fancy way of saying “being forced out.” It’s not good. And if you’re not a lawyer or in human resources, you’ll…