Suspend Employee w/out pay or terminate?

Last post 02-08-2008, 3:19 PM by HR Mouse. 8 replies.
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  •  02-01-2008, 1:22 PM 3865

    HR Mouse is not online. Last active: 10-28-2008, 5:45 PM HR Mouse



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  • Suspend Employee w/out pay or terminate?

    A service employee (HVAC Industry - Commercial only) has been written up twice due to getting into accidents & damaging the company vehicles and written up another time for poor performance. His supervisor and manager were informed this morning that the employee was on a job site and started swearing and making comments about how stupid all of the employees of the company they were servicing (lots of swearing and lots of very nasty comments). The head of this company was standing right next to him and was VERY upset! The head of the company he just insulted started yelling profanities back at him, threatened to call his boss, threatened to sever their professional relationship with the company and THEN threated to beat him up in the parking lot if he didn't "shut up"! Instead of apologizing the employee started to yell back and (thankfully) the other technician on the job interveined and sent his co-worker to go sit in the company truck & stay there while he attempted to smooth things out with the customer. Thankfully he calmed the customer down and worked on their heater, but his boss was still called by the customer - still very upset. His supervisor and his manager are writing the entire incident up and they are planning on sitting down with him this afternoon. The manager would like to suspend him for 5 days without pay. Is this out of line or too long of a time? The manager is at his witts end with him (according to him he is socially inept in all situations!). The other write ups state the next form of action will be termination (the 2nd strikes per se), but since this incident isn't directly related to those what is the proper course of action?
  •  02-01-2008, 3:08 PM 3870 in reply to 3865

    TXHRGuy is not online. Last active: 05-23-2013, 4:36 PM TXHRGuy



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  • Re: Suspend Employee w/out pay or terminate?

    I would terminate his employment immediately.  This is not related to driving, but it is related to "performance" in my view.  In any case, the reputational and economic harm posed to the Company by his outrageous behavior exceeds whatever progressive discipline courtesy he might otherwise have been afforded.
  •  02-01-2008, 4:09 PM 3871 in reply to 3865

    pammcconnell is not online. Last active: 01-28-2009, 1:27 PM pammcconnell



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  • Re: Suspend Employee w/out pay or terminate?

    I agree, termination is certainly called for in this case.  You can show a pattern of careless behavior and performance issues.  I have a difficult time with suspensions.  In the cases I have seen, the suspended employee rarely changes their attitude and usually ends of up leaving, but only after making it difficult for everyone before they do.  I think that if there are issues of this extent, you are better off severing ties with the employee. 

    I would also mention to the manager that they should talk to the other technician about his work in calming down the customer in a difficult situation.  He may have helped to save this customer for your company. 

     

  •  02-01-2008, 8:00 PM 3873 in reply to 3865

    ilana is not online. Last active: 02-01-2008, 8:19 PM ilana



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  • Re: Suspend Employee w/out pay or terminate?

    I am assuming you are not in a unionized environment? 

    How long term of an employee is he?  Why the hesitation to terminate and the decision to suspend?

    You have grounds for termination.  Your earlier disciplinary actions specifically stated that any other infraction would result in termination.  Not sure that this current infraction has to be directly related to the previous issues.

    Conduct your investigation will all parties involved. The client, the co-worker who may have salvaged the account, and the unruly employee.  Once your investigation is completed, your findings may yield that suspension will not alleviate the problem for someone who appears to be incorrigible. If your company finds his behavior to be egrigious and not in line with your code of appropriate conduct..........then terminate. 

     You have to send a clear message to him and to others that such behaviors will not be tolerated.  Follow your company policy.

    Hope this helps!

  •  02-04-2008, 10:57 AM 3876 in reply to 3865

    IT HR is not online. Last active: Wed, Oct 10 2012, 9:46 AM IT HR



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  • Re: Suspend Employee w/out pay or terminate?

    I agree with the other posters that you have just cause to terminate this employee.  I also agree that suspensions usually don't work either. I have used them in the past to conduct an investigation to make sure we had all the facts correct prior to terminating, but I think you have all the facts here.  There is a pattern of bad behavior and bad decision making.

    Hopefully you will be able to save thuis customer based on the action of your other employee.

  •  02-04-2008, 11:53 AM 3877 in reply to 3876

    curlytop94 is not online. Last active: 02-18-2008, 4:39 PM curlytop94



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  • Re: Suspend Employee w/out pay or terminate?

    A suspension is usually a  tool to use if you need to investigate a matter and just need the employee to not be present as they would create more of a disruption.  Then while you gather the facts, you can use that time to make a decision whether to bring back or terminate.  Since this employee did NOT represent the company well, I would terminate.  The employer has the right to a reasonable representation from their employees and this person may have even cause economic harm to the company by his actions.  If he is so unahppy, he can look elsewhere.  Be certain to obtain statements from anyone who served as witness in order to help fight any unemployment claims.  Good luck!
  •  02-05-2008, 2:21 PM 3889 in reply to 3877

    HRforME is not online. Last active: 05-21-2013, 12:08 PM HRforME



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  • Re: Suspend Employee w/out pay or terminate?

    I agree with the decision to terminate. Mostly because you have all the documentation that you need.  Multiple warnings, a witness to the last incident, etc.  I agree with getting statements in writing from both the coworker and the customer, if you can.

     Because if you do not terminate, but just suspend, then when the next incident occurs it will be harder to justify termination then.  Especially if the next incident isn't as bad.   And you might have to defend why this incident was bad enough to be THE ONE. (Can you tell I  have been there, done that? With the EEOC too) 

    Personally, there are times when being nice or generous can come back and bite a company in the backside and this is one of them.  Especially if next time, he not only verbally attacks, but physically attacks. He has shown that he is unstable in the presence of a business customer.  Would you feel that he is trustworthy to go on another customer call? I sure wouldn't.  Even if this were THE ONLY incident, I would still terminate over it.

  •  02-05-2008, 7:34 PM 3893 in reply to 3889

    TXHRGuy is not online. Last active: 05-23-2013, 4:36 PM TXHRGuy



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  • Re: Suspend Employee w/out pay or terminate?

    Wow! A lot of really good points made and I'm really happy to see some of them made by new posters.

    Pamm made a good point about mentioning to the manager the co-worker's role in salvaging the situation.  Perhaps that tech should be considered for a bonus of some kind, particularly if the client remains with your company.

    Ilana raised a critical point (welcome!): is there a CBA in effect here?  If so, what are the pertinent parts of it and, also, past practice may play a role (particularly if the issue is not covered by some article or process stipulated in the CBA).  However, I disagree with the point about involving the client in the investigation.  That is something I really, really try to avoid because you end up interfering with the business end of things and it's often just not necessary.  In my opinion, the account executive or other person responsible for maintaining the business relationship shold definitely be consulted before calling clients in on a company investigation unless you can see with clarity that the Company has an obligation or a real need from a risk management perspective to do this.  Also keep in mind that the client has no obligation to talk to you and must be handled much diffrently from how you might interview a current employee.

    IT HR and curlytop94 (welcome!) are spot on in my opinion regarding suspension.  Suspension as a disciplinary tool is at odds with management practices that are increasingly focusing on internal environment factors.  In theory, you're send someone off to feel the sting of lose pay and to take time to think about their wrong doing hoping they'll come back better and wiser.  In my experience, it doesn't usually pan out that way in practice.

    HRforME's point about "when's enough, enough?" is another great one.  If this isn't sufficient for termination, what is?  What would you do if another similarly situated employee did the same thing?  This goes back to Ilana's question: why are you hesitating to terminate in the face of such egregious behavior on the part of the employee?

    Something that we haven't made the focus of a post yet is this: what is your policy?  Ilana mentioned code of conduct, but apart from that, what policies do you have that may play a role?  We have "discourtesy to coworkers, clients, or the general public" in our laundry list of things that can get you immediately dismissed.  We also have included things like "making false or malicious statements about the Company," "making false or malicious statements about the Company's clients" not to mention prohibitions against intimidation, which may play a role here as well depending on why the client threatened to beat up your employee (insulted? feeling threatened himself?).  Do you have a code of conduct?  What do your own policies say on this matter?

    Another consideration, going back to HRforME's point: have you had anybody else in a situation even remotely like this?  If so, then what did you do and why should you do anything differently this time?

  •  02-08-2008, 3:19 PM 3928 in reply to 3893

    HR Mouse is not online. Last active: 10-28-2008, 5:45 PM HR Mouse



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  • Re: Suspend Employee w/out pay or terminate?

    Wow! Thanks to everyone who responded - I really appreciate all of the feedback. It turns out the employee has been suspended without pay & an investigation with management is currently underway. The owner of the company was informed of this situation (he is at the company headquarters in another state) and is now in town assisting with the investigation. I believe the employee will be released from his duties on Monday.

     And to quickly answer some questions posed, no the company is NOT unionized, no there has never been a situation like this before in the company's entire history, the company code of conduct policy (signed by the employee at the time of hire) states many things including that vulgar language & discourtesies to co-workers & clients will not be tolerated, the employee has been employed for just under 1 year now (his anniversary date is at the end of Feb), etc.

    I believe management balked in terminating him for reasons that should not play a role here such as not having the time to look for a replacement, but it seems things will work out in the end (next week) when he is back in the office/shop.

     Thanks again to everyone!

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