I've Got to Fire a Scary Employee Tomorrow...

Wish me luck. The guy has been with the organization for years, but has a violent temper. Though we assume much of what Scary Employee says is baloney, he has told many people about his gun collection as well as talking (almost bragging) about his drinking problem.

He’s been tolerable in his job the last couple of years, but lately he seems more and more angry and “out of it”. Several years ago he alledgedly told a co-worker he’d like to shoot a bunch of people here, but denied this when confronted.

Lately he’s taken to obsessively putting down and harassing other employees whom he considers are poor workers. He especially has problems with women. Yesterday two more complaints came to me about this unacceptable behavior. He has been repeatedly warned. Tomorrow comes the termination.

This is not going to be easy. Advice from anyone familiar with dealing with similar experiences… or just a good word …would be appreciated.

Good luck. Do you have security people to escort him out? If so, have them outside the office when this goes down.

I hope for your sake you documented all the complaints. It will help if the scary employee tries to contest the termination.

Given his history, I would arrange for extra security precautions after the bozo is gone. Might not hurt to have some sort of security present(a bouncer type) within range for after the termination.

And let the other employees know what is going on, and remind them to be more vigilant, at least for a while. If he’s seen at your place after the firing, see about a restraining order.

I know, messy and possibly expensive, but worth it for peace of mind.

And good luck!!!

Be sure to bring someone with you for the termination as a witness. If you suspect he may decide to be physical, you may want to also bring a member of the security team.

Make sure you speak only to the rule violations and repeated warnings, and provide documentation of each one. Do not turn this into a personal thing. Maintain your calm, and defuse each objection with evidence of rule-breaking.

Be sure he is monitored as he cleans out his desk, and walked out by a member of your security or Human Resources team.

Good luck to you. Terminating an employee is never fun for anyone.

This is a really snarky thing to do, but in this day and age, and taking your post at face value …

Have someone who is totally trustworthy, and has been briefed on what is going down, out in the parking lot somewhere in an unobtrusive vehicle with a cell phone. Have said cell phone set to speed dial to your telephone.

After employee is terminated and escorted out of the building, former employee is thus observed and if necessary, followed for a spell. Any observation that said (former) employee may immediately return to the building with something he had in his vehicle (trunk) should result in a phone warning.

If he leaves without incident, you might want to go so far as tail him to his home (or wherever he goes) for a while for the same reason. After all, he might return with that something to vent his anger.

Is this sort of spying over the top? Perhaps. Just consider it insurance.

No such luck. We’re a mid-size retail store. I thought about calling the cops to have them around just in case…but there’s really nothing concrete to go on. When the guy made the alleged threats a few years ago, I contacted the police but they didn’t seem to take it seriously. I guess with all the violence we see in the news, such workplace false alarms are fairly common.

Wear that kevlar vest that matches your wool suit so nicely…

But seriously, he sounds like the sterotypical case of workplace violence waiting to happen. And this type of violence often occurs after termination. This site has some helpful pointers.

#21 of the above site actually recommends that you don’t have them escorted out by security - it might only add to the humility and anger, which could fuel an anger-induced shooting spree later. However, I would see the need for armed escort if the individual were attempting to choke me to death for having just fired him…that would also necessitate a police report.

Keep cool, keep documentation, and good luck!

A couple of things:

  1. Stick to the company rules for termination, follow the process exactly
  2. Have some bodies around (preferably security types)
  3. Don’t leave him alone at any point once he has been fired
  4. Just for fun, keep a bat under your desk :slight_smile:

good luck. that is a really tough assignment.

if at all possible have some sort of security close by for a few days following.

at my office there was a guy that creeped out 99% of the women from the first time they met him. it took the men a few months more to pick up on it.

when they decided he wasn’t fitting in well and told him that he was being let go; he did not accept the termination.

he returned to the office the next business day, sat down at his desk and just went about as usual.

when he was told, “no really, you are not working here anymore.” he went off quietly. the next day he once again came to the office and sat down at his desk and started working.

this time he was told “get out and stay out, or the police will be called.” this is when he hit the ceiling and freaked out; yelling and tossing things. he had to be escorted out.

after this they finally announced that x was not working at the office and if any employee saw him trying to enter the office they were to call 911.

If the employee has access to the company network, then terminate his computer accounts befor he comes to work.

Also, they say that if employees are fired on Fridays (or whatever the last working day of the week is) there is significantly less tension.

Also notify all people that should know (receptionists, security, etc.) that said person is no longer employed. In case he tries to come back, they should stop him, or at least notify a manager.

Just make it absolutely clear that there is nothing whatever that could change the decsion.

Don’t try to let him down easily or beat around the bush. And practice ahead of time.

“Look we’re really sorry, but we are letting you go as of now. It hasn’t worked out, and we regret that. Good luck to you - if anyone contacts us, the only information we will give out is your start date, end date, job title, and nothing else. Here is your final check, and the information about your benefits. Do you need a box to put your stuff in?”

Then stand up and make it clear that you now consider the interview over, and walk him out.

Good luck. This is not fun for anyone.


Thanks to everyone. I’m meeting this individual with a witness at 7:30 tomorrow morning. I will notify the cops beforehand to make a couple parking lot drive throughs. So now I’m going to bed and practice my lines. Man, human resources is absolutely no fun.

Ugh. Sorry, Biotop.

Good luck.

Good advice. All of it’s been good.

The only thing I would add is that if you have a picture of the guy, make sure all the employees on all shifts see it, and that they’re told what to do if he returns, that it’d be okay to call 911, for example.

Are you going to offer any placement assistance to this person? Severance? If he can keep his dignity (in his own mind, anyway), that might help keep him calm.

Hope this doesn’t get to you too late…

You can easily hire temporary additional security – one or two guards for a week shouldn’t be too expensive, particularly compared to the alternative. I agree that they shouldn’t escort the employee out, but they should be close and aware.

I also like the idea of following the guy home – simple enough to hire a private detective.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes.

Was CNN involved? :eek:

I read the OP last night. By now, the employee has gotten the bad news.

I was thinking, last night, how strange it is. This guy went home as usual. No idea how fateful today would be. When we had layoffs at my last job, it was totally unexpected. My final paycheque was dated the previous Friday. I had gone home, had a nice weekend, and I was totally oblivious to what was about to happen. How strange it is to think that this guy is (or was, now) about to be blindsided.

Please let us know how it went, or at least how you think it went.

We’re all very concerned for you here.

It was an draining experience this morning. But no violence.

My human resource head and I met with the employee when he came in to work. We explained to him that we had received more complaints about his behavior, and we were going to have to let him go. The guy got angry, blamed everyone, especially me— as he “thought I was a friend.” He completely refused to acknowledge that he has any problems other than the drinking issues which, he claims, didn’t effect his work.

Near the end of the termination he started talking suicidal, which was very disturbing. I tried to tell him that he goes and gets help, and really shows me that he is making an effort to truly deal with his problems (counseling, AA, etc.), that we could talk again in a month and a half and discuss his job status.

Now that he is gone I feel emotionally exhausted. Both the human resources head and I slept little last night. I genuinely hope this guy gets the help he needs. I pray that he does not resort to violence of any kind. I did notify the police, who said they would increase patrols around the area for a while.

Damn. We gave the guy the three weeks paid vacation he had due, which was a considerable amount. I feel like we did everything we could for him, but that somehow we failed the guy as well. We’ve paid his insurance through August. What more could we do and not be somehow enabling this guy to continue his destructive behavior at our company?

So how do I think it went? About as well as could be expected. I’m just glad something this ugly and emotional doesn’t occur very often on the job, or I’d have to find something else to do.