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Texas - Threatened "I'm going to KILL someone"

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  • Texas - Threatened "I'm going to KILL someone"

    I work for financial institution in Texas. Job title: Human Resources & Executive Assistant. Besides benefits administrations, etc. I was tasked with administrating their Dormant Accounts (By myself - In my spare time) As it turned out, it became clear that one person can't possible do this in their spare time nor has it been done properly in the past. I was instructed to turn in a few accounts to the comptroller then to move the dates of the remaining 1,500 or so accounts to the current date which would take them out of the dormant status. As I conversed with the State and read the requirements I realized this was in non compliance. I did this the first year as instructed because the CFO stood over me and gave me the directions at my computer. I also realized that this has been done for many many years.

    2 months later as I prepared for my 1st annual review, I documented all of my job processes into my personal review material including the dormant accounts and gave it to my boss, the CEO. During my review the CEO called the CFO in and he came unhinged and yelled, "I don't like how you threw me under the bus over the Dormant accounts." The CEO did nothing. Since then it has been hell. The second year, I wanted to get written permission from my boss before changing the dates but he seemed to avoid me regarding them. I did not change the dates. The CFO continued to be hostile towards me. Note; His hostility is also towards many employees. it is so unbearable that in one year we had a 50% turnover rate.

    In 2016 the auditors saw something in their Dormant account findings and called me into the conference room. I answered their questions honestly. After management received the auditors findings all hell broke loose and the CFO and accounting dept. had to go to great lengths and changes to their Dormant account process. He was livid and directed his anger towards me in every way.

    Two days ago the CFO was across the room from me telling 2 other co-workers about an unemployment claim. He said the former employee had reported to the TWC the financial institution was engaged in unethical practices that included dormant accounts. His voice raised at that time and he completed his statement in a vicious tone, "I'm going to kill someone, I'm going to kill someone". Well there is only one person there that caused him this anger over the Dormant accounts.

    The next day one of the employees that was there confirmed the above. I feel threatened and afraid; I fear for my life. I AM H.R., but after I was hired it became clear that the CFO took care of all the disciplinary actions. Therefore, no disciplinary actions are taken against him. Even the CEO is afraid or intimidated by this man for some reason. If I do report this to the CEO and he "talks it over" as usual with the CFO, the hostility will be worse. What should I do? What options do I have??? (Side note: I have never been disciplined and receive 5 - 6 percent annual increases and have wonderful relationships in the workplace with every one else.) Please help, soon! Thanks
    Last edited by HRLaw; 05-27-2017, 05:09 PM.

  • #2
    At this point I don't really see any recourse you have because there has not been an adverse action against you for reporting the issue to the auditors. If there was its slightly possible that a whistleblower claim could be made if it falls under Sarbanes-Oxley. If not and your CEO will do nothing about it, you're faced with waiting until something happens or finding someplace else to work. I don't see any other recourse that you have ... if you have more details about the hostility he is showing told you, you can put it out here but there's nothing illegal about him being a jerk. Hostility isnt really retaliation because it's not a specific acts like lowering your pay or demoting you.

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    • #3
      In theory, this is a death threat and you can call police.

      But we do not (yet) have a labor law issue based solely on what you have said so far. If the person in question behaves this way to a bunch a different people, that is maybe legally interesting. Employers have lost court cases where that was a factor, although that factor by itself is generally inadequate. Point of fact, it is not illegal for the boss to be an a**h****, although certain actions taken together might be illegal.

      In the 1980s my employer lost an CA-DLSE hearing we should have won solely because my boss insisted on attending and giving the ALJ his "opinion". I spent an hour pretending that I did not know this guy. The only reason my boss did not end up in jail is being an a**h*** is not illegal, at least not at an CA-DLSE hearing. There is an old cartoon HR had up at the same time where the Jury found "the defendant guilty and his attorney obnoxious". Same idea. Being an a**h*** is generally not illegal (by itself) but there are usually consequences.

      Something bad is going to happened to this guy. It just might not happen in time to help you.
      Last edited by DAW; 05-28-2017, 05:25 PM.
      "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
      Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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      • #4
        Response to DAW & HR for Me

        Thank you DAW and HR for your helpful responses. I have folders full of documentation. I originally started documentation based on compliance issues to protect myself. Ex: All personnel files initially were not in a locked cabinet. It took an attorney on the Board to inquire and remedy that. After we got the file cabinets he said, "That's what you are getting for your Christmas Bonus"(Instead of a check like everyone else). Merit raises are not given as stated in policy; at the first of the month after employee reviews but delayed for months with no retro pay. Employees are so disengaged by this. Employees are hand picked internally for positions; there are no internal requisitions/postings. They were not complying with Senate Bill 51 at first, regarding termination of benefits and he hatefully demanded to see the bill before allowing employees to continue benefits through the month of their termination. He demanded that I change dates on retirement deposits at the end of the year in order to balance. His comments about this and the above issues are: "Who's going to know?" "You can make this as hard on yourself as you want, but if you make it hard on me, I'm going to be mad." He is a time bomb and no one knows when he is going to flip a switch and go off. For me, it is constant but I am always polite to him and try not to engage him in any way if necessary

        When the auditors were there he passed me a bunch of paperwork they were asking for. I replied that it was a big report and that it should supply them with all the pertinent information they required. He said, "Or bury them in so much they can't find anything." He also said he was going to bring his dog, a vicious German shephard and put it in the room with the auditors and lock the door. Every one knew he wasn't kidding. He brought that dog to work one day on his leash but you could see he enjoyed every minute of watching the employees shriek in horror as it charged towards them wildly trying to get off the leash; growling, barking and baring teeth. It was terrifying. I have only been there 3.5 years. I came to this job from a Fortune 50 company that was top notch in every aspect of HR, employee engagement, leadership, training, compliance, etc. I left that company because of the travel. This new job has been a nightmare. I am 3 years from retirement and I had hoped to finish my career here but I don't know if I'll make it. Thanks again!
        Last edited by HRLaw; 05-28-2017, 03:12 PM.

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        • #5
          much of what you post is not illegal, just a different way of doing things, but possibly not best business practice (while it's best practice for files to be locked specifically , it is not required that they be in a locked file cabinet, the employer's duty is to safeguard the confidentiality of the information in the files -- maybe a locked cabinet is the solution, but it is not the only one). Changing the retirement deposit date is iffy, but depends on circumstances. Employers can deposit early, just not later than a specific date. If it is something against the law, hopefully you have backup that he ordered you to do so -- even if it is just an email back to him confirming his instructions.

          Sounds like this is a small, possibly not-for-profit organization. They are often run much differently that a large Fortune XX company in regards to most of what you are posting. Many times an HR person comes in and tries to correct issues (like the 51 bill) and sometimes its works. A lot is going to depend on the decisionmakers and whether the HR person is brought to the table when decisions are made. Generally a job title that combines ExAsst with HR is not one of those decisionmakers unfortunately.

          Personally it sounds like a very terrible fit. Especially since you and he seem to have much different expectations about what your job position is.


          eta: I work for a small group of businesses in Texas and am the HR/payroll person. When I was first hired, I went to the CEO and asked what his/the company's position was on issues such as you have stated. I am very black/white on sticking within the laws, common laws and best business practices. He agreed with me and we had a relationship where I could go directly to him (around the CFO, COO, etc) if I had an issue. He pretty much had the final say and backed me many times over the rest. If you don't have that, I am so sorry. I know plenty of small companies that skirt a lot of issues because they think they are too small to get caught, but like you found, the auditors do eventually find something. (we had a full IRS audit about 5 years ago and they found absolutely nothing wrong with the way we did business and that was back when the company owned not only a Gulfstream jet but a deep sea fishing boat!)
          Last edited by hr for me; 05-29-2017, 12:32 PM.

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          • #6
            To: HR for Me - Know Just How Far To Go

            Thanks HR for Me for taking your time to share you thoughts and experiences. Transitioning from a company that totally had it together to a smaller one that is something out of the "Mad Men" series has been a challenge for sure. When I started 3.5 years ago I quietly and respectfully asked questions about their procedures and made suggestions as a team player in order to help them avoid serious violations. Such as; when I found that their applications still asked for age and race or that they immediately threw candidate applications away based on accents, age, or looks. My trainer said to me in a whisper, "Don't try to change anything because they won't do it." Since then I have navigated carefully and communicated softly about how we can make small changes that can protect them. Of course you have read some of the results of those attempts above. He is a smart guy and he knows JUST how far to go (and then some) to inflict a painful and toxic work environment for most of the employees there. They are scared to death of him and maybe I should be after his indirect threat. If the IRS doesn't care about Gulfstreams and deep sea fishing boats I doubt they will care that a down payment for a car loan was made with fire arms; and the CFO took them, then tried to make the VP of lending sign off on the augmented deal. The CEO is there in name only, indifferent, offering little buffer to myself and other employees; waiting for his contract to run out so he can retire. Guess who is line to take his place? .....Yep! Thanks again!

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            • #7
              They didn't care about the boat or airplane because we had done it correctly. we pay taxes as we were supposed to. Not because we hid it well.

              That said if I were you I'd find another job as quick as possible. You're not gonna change the culture unfortunately. And I hate to see you get dragged down on something.

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              • #8
                I know it's easier said than done, but yes, get the hell out of there. As others said, nothing he has done is specifically illegal-he seems to know just how far to go without crossing the lines to serious violations. And there comes a time when a job simply is not worth it at any price-being threatened by a vicious dog certainly meets that standard.

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                • #9
                  Thanks Ferretrick

                  Thank you Ferretrick for taking the time to read and respond to my posting. I believe you are 100% right. It has been so helpful and comforting to be able to share my experience and hear your advice and the the advice of others. It's just mind-boggling that these type of employment issues exist today and that employers can get away with it; and you are right, he knows just how far to go. In the meantime I will be a silent warrior, never let him see me sweat and continue to document everything until I can get out. Thanks again!

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