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Lynne Curry: We fired him but he won't leave

Lynne Curry

Q: We own a small, struggling retail company. Our sales manager allegedly worked for us but more often worked his own small business. He was often in the parking lot talking on his cell phone.

We finally had enough and terminated him yesterday, just before leaving on a business trip. We then had a meeting with all employees and explained that it was a cost-cutting decision and had full faith in the team moving forward. We were surprised by what they then told us, proving this man had been pretending to work and pawning off his duties on others.

We're now out of town but just got a call from two concerned employees who told us the sales manager was back on site, acting as if he hadn't been fired.

We called him right away. He told us he thought we were making a mistake and insisted we give him a month to convince us we should keep him.

When we said he hadn't produced, he said the low wages we paid forced him to do other ventures on the side to stay afloat but he'd stop them. When we told him we were firm in our decision, he said it would be in our best interest to let him work until we returned.

How do we get this man out of here?

A: You can call the police and ask them to escort him off property. You may first want to call an attorney and outline the "backstory" if there are issues that would enable your sales manager to successfully fight his termination.

You're not the only organization that fired a senior manager who wouldn't leave. When Pacifica Radio Network's Board of Directors voted to fire their Executive Director Summer Reese in the second month of a three-year $105,000 a year contract, she returned to work with bolt-cutters. She cut the building's padlock and locked herself inside with her mother and other supporters.

Reese then ran the radio station as if nothing had happened, other than having her mother and supporters move in air mattresses so they could sleep inside the station. Reese claimed she had a contract requiring termination for case and called her termination unjust and refused to let Board members enter their station. This left the Board no alternative to calling the police to evict Reese, her mother and supporters.

Q: I did some stupid things as a young adult and so don't have a lot of job options. I'm out of jail and trying to build a new life. I job-hunted for months and finally got a job in a warehouse. I'm low person on the totem pole.

The guys I work with are jerks. They describe their girlfriends and women customers as sluts and bitches. They blast pornographic music through the warehouse.

I'm afraid one day I'm going to lose it and hit one of them but can't afford to lose this job. So help, I don't have a lot of options here.

A: If you lose your temper, you give immature jerks power over your life. Instead of getting mad, get even -- and help your company out.

No company can afford employees who describe women as sluts and play pornographic music at work. Use your cellphone to tape some of the more offensive co-worker comments and songs and play it for your general manager. If he doesn't take action, call the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission or the Alaska Human Rights Commission and let them know what's happening.

At least one landmark case decided by the Eleventh Circuit Court protected the only female worker in an otherwise all male work group who faced a situation similar to yours. Her male coworkers kept the work radio tuned to a station that aired pornographic talk. Every time she changed the station, her coworkers changed it back. Her complaining accomplished little and her manager used the word "bitch" when referring to female customers. As a result, the Court ruled there was ample evidence of derogatory comments toward women for her case to move forward.

You have options -- if you keep your temper.

Dr. Lynne Curry is a management-employee trainer and owner of the consulting firm The Growth Company Inc. Send your questions to her at lynne@thegrowthcompany.com. You can follow Lynne on Twitter@lynnecurry10 or through www.workplacecoachblog.com


Lynne Curry
THE WORKPLACE