Yes, it’s a hypothetical. Nobody’s forcing you to read it. The usual mockery toward people who do so only to complain.
In today’s story, the hypothetical “you” is the sales director for the southern region of Allied Transtators Inc. Transtators are a lucrative and growing commodity, and ATI is one of the top three firms making them; there’s a lot of pressure on you to see that current accounts grow and new accounts are procured. Your sales staff consists of about 100 field reps and 300 inside (phone) reps (who are essentially in training to go into the field and are get broomed out if they don’t qualify to do so).
Recently one of your field reps, **Abigail, **got arrested in the worse possible way: at a meeting with a valuable prospective client in a tony restaurant in front of dozens of camera-phone toting witnesses. Abigail was accused of murdering a police detective in his apartment; there were suggestions of extramarital affairs and kinky sex and other juicy stuff, so the story got wide circulation. Abigail confessed to killing the cop but claimed self-defense. Years earlier, you see, her older brother had been convicted of murder; Abigail dedicated all her free time trying to prove his innocence. Her investigation led her to believe this cop knew something that could help, so she went to his apartment to talk to him. Unknown to her, the cop not only had exculpatory evidence but had framed her brother for the crime. Realizing how close she was to disccovering the truth, he attacked her, and she killed him in self-defense. She didn’t come forward immediately because experienece had left her cyncial about the justice system. Fortunately for her, the FBI were investigating the dirty cop for different reasons and had him under surveillance. In an untimely fashion, the feds gave their information to the local DA, who decided to believe Abigail, dismissed the charges against her, and got her brother sprung from prison.
Happy ending, right? Not entirely. While Abigail was in jail awaiting trial, her sales territory was temporaily split up and assigned to the field reps of three adjacent territories. In one case, sales have increased by 5%; in another, they’ve declined by the same amount; in the third, they’re flat. In all three cases, the reps are making LESS money, because with so many existing accounts to service, they’re not productive in acquiring new accounts. Clearly the territory needs to be reconsolidated and asssigned to a full-time account exec. All three caretaker reps report that many clients in their area are antsy about Abigail’s return. Google her name now, and the top results all have the phrases “cop killer” and “kinky sex” attached. Abigail’s immediate boss thinks she needs to be reassigned to inside sales until she can rehabilitate her reputation. Her boss’s boss feels that will take too long and wants to outright fire her.
The ultimate decision is yours. All this is happening in an at-will employement state. You can fire Abigail without any cause, and even if that weren’t so, the employee manual specifically lists getting arrested for a felony as something that can lead to dismissal, regardless of the ultimate disposition of the case. At her best, Abigail was was ranked in the 65th percentile among field reps: better than average, but hardly stellar. You have more than a dozen other candidates, both internal and external, for her job.
What do you do?