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Aol CEO Tim Armstrong apologises for public firing of Patch employee

Aol’s chief executive Tim Armstrong has apologised for the public sacking of a member of staff left week, after a recording of the event was leaked.

Armstrong sent a company email apologising for the manner in which he sacked Abel Lenz, a creative director for Aol’s local news network Patch.

Lenz was fired by Armstrong while taking pictures of him as he addressed 1,000 Patch employees.

“I am writing you to acknowledge the mistake I made last Friday during the Patch all-hands meeting when I publicly fired Abel Lenz. It was an emotional response at the start of a difficult discussion dealing with many people's careers and livelihoods,” he wrote in the email.

“We talk a lot about accountability and I am accountable for the way I handled the situation, and at a human level it was unfair to Abel. I’ve communicated to him directly and apologized for the way the matter was handled at the meeting. (sic)”

“Internal meetings of a confidential nature should not be filmed or recorded so that our employees can feel free to discuss all topics openly. Abel had been told previously not to record a confidential meeting, and he repeated that behavior on Friday, which drove my actions,” he explained.

The audio recording has now been heard by over 1m people according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Despite the email, Lenz remains unemployed.

The full email can be read below:

Aolers –

I am writing you to acknowledge the mistake I made last Friday during the Patch all-hands meeting when I publicly fired Abel Lenz. It was an emotional response at the start of a difficult discussion dealing with many people's careers and livelihoods. I am the CEO and leader of the organization, and I take that responsibility seriously. We talk a lot about accountability and I am accountable for the way I handled the situation, and at a human level it was unfair to Abel. I’ve communicated to him directly and apologized for the way the matter was handled at the meeting.

My action was driven by the desire to openly communicate with over a thousand Patch employees across the US. The meeting on Friday was the second all-hands we had run that week and people came to Friday's meeting knowing we would be openly discussing some of the potential changes needed at Patch. As you know, I am a firm believer in open meetings, open Q&A, and this level of transparency requires trust across Aol. Internal meetings of a confidential nature should not be filmed or recorded so that our employees can feel free to discuss all topics openly. Abel had been told previously not to record a confidential meeting, and he repeated that behavior on Friday, which drove my actions.

We have been through many difficult situations in turning around Aol and I have done my best to make the best decisions in the long-term interest of the employees and the company. On Friday I acted too quickly and I learned a tremendous lesson and I wanted you to hear that directly from me.

We have tough decisions and work to do on Patch, but we're doing them thoughtfully and as openly as we can. At Aol, we had strong earnings last week and we’re adding one of the best companies in the world to the team. Aol is in a great position, and we’ll keep moving forward. – TA

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