I Just Fired Someone

This is a person four years out of college - about 25 years old.

And she is a plagarist.

Details are both irrelevant and inappropriate, except to say that there is no question regarding the plagarism, it was detected by our client, and she admitted to it.

She was full of remorse. But frankly, this is not a second-chance type scenario. She billed for three weeks of work for “creating” this document, when in fact she spent perhaps half an hour changing some key words via search and replace.

For quasi-sincere sorrow, she reminded me of the “Laura K. Krishna” case we discussed back in March. But if her sorrow were sincerely felt beyond simply the consequences of being caught, I can’t believe she’d have chosen this road in the first place.

Anyway - she’s gone. And I’m pissed at the casual attitude that some people carry around about plagarism.


And along comes the Google ad to undercut my point.

It always sucks to fire someone (or be fired) but you definitely did the right thing. She obviously didn’t do the work she was assigned and she damaged the reputation of your firm to your client. Plus plagiarism is bad and she should be beated with a wet noodle for it.

It sounds like you did the right thing, even if it was not the nice thing. Thank god some people still maintain some professional standards.

But one question: What does sorrow have to do with the Krishna case? :confused:

This is the part that is really troubling in my opinion. The plagiarism is bad, however billing the client for legal work not done is very troubling. Tell me she wasn’t a lawyer.

I think this is why it is so important to heavily penalize plagiarisim in high school and college.

They can go ahead and bawl in my office about getting an F on one paper, and tell me how unfair and uncaring I am—better to learn the lesson here than in the workplace where their jobs, their incomes, and their repuations are at stake.

The firing definitely sounds justified to me. Sorry you had to do it, but I’m glad you did what you had to.

So you’re hiring? :wink:


Hmmm. Sounds like theft.

Bricker, your business is the law, isn’t it? Even if it were not, Virginia was a right-to-work state (commonwealth?) last time I checked, which usually means you can fire anyone for “good cause, no cause, or even cause morally wrong,” so long as you don’t run afoul of any federal anti-discrimination or whistleblower laws. Also, last time I checked, most legal arguments are not exactly works of the imagination. Boilerplate briefs are the raw material with which most, if not all, law firms manufacture billable hours, I thought. Anyhow, you’re a little premature to declare details “irrelevant and inappropriate.” In addition to the obvious “What, exactly, was plagiarized?” I can think of a few that are both:

  1. Were you ever this woman’s immediate supervisor? If not, why were you the one to fire her? If so, how did you not notice the discrepency between her lack of work and the hours she reported?

  2. Was the client, in fact, wrongly billed, or did you catch the error before the mail went out?

  3. What document was this employee charged with creating? Was it for publication? Was it a response to your client’s question that would have been as well served by simply sending him/her a photocopy of the plagiarized item?

  4. I hate plagarism too, and I hate plagiarism even more. But you’re not an academic, are you? What rules actually exist in your workplace (real rules, written down, publicized, available at short notice to those working on your behalf) that this employee should have consulted?

  5. Your client caught this, not you. What would have happened if s/he had not?

heh… remember I don’t practice law anymore - I’m a government contractor. This was an assignment to document our client’s business and technical practices. What was submitted was a white paper available on-line from a vendor that does work similar to what we do, combined with a short technical document that had already been created by our client and was available on the client’s intranet.

Surely nowadays the punishments meted out for plagiarism are just punishments for laziness. It seems that modern tertiary education only permits the use of established sources in any answer. Thus the saying that “education is the process of making the notes of the teacher become the notes of the student.” So the sackee only suffered her fate for not rewriting enough.

Where I work the worst culprits for downloading verbatim from the web are the consultants on thousands of dollars a day. Last week I had to evaluate a business proposal that referred to my organisation by 4 different names.

Okay…so what I’m getting is the person fired was supposed to do some original work for the client and, instead, plagiarized that very client’s previous work. Somehow it reminds me of the last job interview the lead actor had in “She’s Having a Baby.”

I’m curious… what was her job? What does your company do?
I support your decision and don’t really want to be in a position to hire and fire peeps… It can’t be easy.

I’m the project manager for the project in question. She reports to a team leader, who reports to a group manager, who reports to me. But I am the one who hires and fires with, obviously, input from the people that will be directly supervising.

This is a firm-fixed-price contract. That means that the client has paid us a fixed price to accomplish several tasks. We priced our bid to be competitive - that is, we figured out how much time each task would take, priced the hours for each labor category that’s needed, and bid accordingly.

Now we’ve paid three weeks out of a labor category but gotten nothing usable in return. While it’s not the end of the world, it’s the loss of three weeks that hits our ultimate fee. We now have to pay someone else to re-create the work, and that re-creation is work we never anticipated doign, and thus didn’t bid.

See above. The work she should have done was reviewing existing client documentation, interviewing client’s staff, and distilling the functions they do into a format that was provided to her ahead of time.

We have written rules concerning forthright and honest conduct. She represented to her team leader that this work was hers, that she had worked for three weeks creating it, and that it was the result of following the process I outlined above.

At some point, a senior business analyst would have used this document as the first step in creating a proposal for changes in process and procedures. At that time, it would have become obvious that the document was worthless.

Sorry you had that experience, Bricker. When I was in grad school, another student asked me to review a paper he had written and give him feedback, which was not common. However, he appealed to my vanity by noting my reputation as a good writer. In retrospect, he may have simply been trying to see if I would take note of the vast amount of plagiarizing he had done.

As it happened, we were also in the midst of a course on ethics, so I sought advice from the professor of that class, without revealing names, as to how to address the matter. Of course, the plagiarist freaked out, but ultimately the situation was resolved. I just remember feeling torn about how to handle it - he hadn’t submitted it for a grade, so he had essentially not done anything wrong yet. On the other hand, I felt that he had used me, and I also just cannot stand the idea of plagiarizing. Even worse, he wasn’t even clever about it, leaving in footnote marks and footnotes that referred to parts of chapters and such. Yeesh.

Fuck 'em, and allow them to count themselves lucky if they get to have any sort of career after such bullshit.

I feel for you, Bricker. I’ve fired many people in my day, and the ones that bother me the most are ethics violations. It just always seems so much worse than just firing someone for not showing up, because it’s not just negligence at the job, it’s ultimately a big “screw you” to the leaders and company.

I’ve fired 5 people in 3 months for trying to cheat the system and get credit for work they weren’t doing. (I work in a call center.) Unfortunately for them, it’s very easy to detect if you know what you’re doing. Of those, one stated that she did cheat, but not as much as the report stated (!) and therefore should be re-hired. Uh, no. Another brazenly admitted it and had no remorse. One more admitted it without remorse, but said “it’s a bad habit, I’ll stop”. The last one denied that it happened, and in the face of the reports, said, those were either accidents or they didn’t happen.

In all of my time working, I’ve only had one person actually apologize. We did, in her case, allow her to return to work (because she was caught as a part of a big ring of cheaters, and we couldn’t honestly afford to lose them all at once). We checked them all within a few days – even knowing that we were watching, they all cheated again, even the person who cried and apologized that reported to me. When we fired her, she apologized again and said she wouldn’t do it again. Yeah. You sure won’t; it’ll be hard to do that from the unemployment line.

Technology has opened the door to a lot of ethical issues, and plagiarism is a big one. I absolutely agree that the punishments in school should be harsh, to avoid the attitude of “it’s okay, everybody does it”.

When I fired one guy for buying lap dances with the company credit card, I was too pissed off to find it funny. Now I’m terribly amused.

And, frankly, having an employee plagiarize their own client is something that you might find very funny. Someday.

Difference I see is your moron probably did not hurt the reputation of your company.
Bricker’s ex-employee could actually cost them business with this client.

And this is why when a student plagiarises in one of my classes, I tell them flat out ‘I will see you next term, in this class, again.’

The first strike is an F in the course.