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3/28/2003
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AOL Lays Off 170 In Utah Call Center

The layoffs are part of 425 terminations at the company's call centers nationwide

OGDEN, Utah (AP) - America Online has laid off 170 workers at its Ogden facility, part of 425 terminations at AOL call centers across the country.

The layoffs in Ogden Thursday were without warning.

"I got called to a meeting. They said, 'Please give me your badge and your headset because you're not going back into the building.' Somebody else had to go back into the building to get my purse and my keys," one employee, who asked that her name not be used, told the Standard-Examiner.

AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham said the move was part of a company reorganization. All employees in the technical support and password departments were terminated. Registration and customer retention will be the future focus of the center.

Graham said employees will receive a severance package, including help from a consulting company in preparing resumes and finding employment.

Heather Morrison said she was called on her day off to a vacant building next to AOL for a meeting she was told would take two hours and would discuss the company's focus during the second quarter.

The mother of two said the meeting was done in about 30 minutes. After a brief announcement, employees were handed a folder with a separation agreement, information about insurance, stock options and finding another job--and an AOL software disc.

The agreement said employees were to continue work until April 10, unless the company said otherwise--which it did at Thursday's meeting.

The practice of not allowing employees to return to their desks after being laid off is common at AOL and other large corporations to safeguard data and information, Graham said.

"It's important to do so for safety and the protection of employees involved, and our members and employees still at the call center itself," he said.

Graham said there are no plans to further reduce personnel in Ogden.

"Ogden remains one of the core call centers. We're very committed to the Ogden site and Ogden community," he said.

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