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Difficult employee

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  • Difficult employee

    I have supervised a woman in a small No. California co. for a year. Her attitude has become increasingly negative over the past several months. She has verbally attacked other employees because she doesn't like the hours they work. I have told her that she is not their supervisor and she has no business doing that. She puts her phone on Do Not Disturb so anyone who rings her extension(both inside the building and outside calls) can only leave messages. She is supposed to distribute the mail and sometimes she will keep my mail up at her desk until I go up and get it. She slams doors if someone is using a printer or copy machine. She has been rude to me, her supervisor, to my face. She has come out and stated on several occasions that she hates the company we work for and she hates her job. When she does this I tell her that if she is that unhappy that she should go out and get another job. Even one of the owners of the company has told her to look elsewhere. But she keeps coming to work and complaining. Last week she directly refused to perform a routine task twice with no explanation. I told her that was totally unacceptable behavior. After incidents like this she will usually call into work a day or two later and state that either she will not be in that day or will not be in until the afternoon. I am tired of putting up with her bad temper and disrespect towards me and others in the office. Would I be wrong to assume that on those occasions when I have told her to go out and find another job that those were verbal warnings of a possible future termination?
    Last edited by calisuper; 07-10-2005, 05:59 PM. Reason: spelling

  • #2
    You would not be wrong, per se, but you'd be on a lot safer ground if you had provided written warnings and better yet (though not legally required) had her sign them.

    It would be legal for you to fire her with no warnings at all. However, if you do you will likely be on the hook for unemployment. Written documentation would also be helpful if she tries to claim she was fired because of her race, religion and so forth.

    My advice would be to go back and document everything you can remember in as much detail as you can, getting witness signatures whenever possible. Going forward start documenting EVERYTHING and make sure she is made aware, first, that her behavior is unacceptable and second, that if it continues her employment will be terminated. Something on the order of, "Eleanor, we've talked about this before. Your job is to (fill in the blank) and you are not doing it. Your attitude also needs an immediate adjustment (be specific). You have ten days to show me that you intend to improve; otherwise, you will be fired. This document spells out what I have just told you. It is to be considered a written warning and it is going in your file. I'd like you to sign it now, please."

    Then follow up with it. The longer you let this go on, the harder it will be later as the UI and any other agency she pulls into the act will want to know why, if her behavior was unacceptable, it was allowed to continue for a year.

    BTW, if she refuses to sign the warning, you COULD use that as a reason to term her right there. I'm usually inclined, however, unless an employee is REALLY insubordinate about it, to simply write on the form that she refused to sign (ask her to initial it - I'm not kidding, sometimes they will) and stick to the ten (or whatever) day notice you gave her. Sometimes it pays to take the high ground.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


    • #3
      Thank you

      Thank you for the advice, CBG. It is much appreciated.
      I did infact terminate her today. It went pretty smoothly, though she did think she should be supplied with a specific reason for her termination in writing. I told her that there was an accumulation of reasons, and that basically is was because she had repeatedly expressed a deep satisfaction with her job and the company and that because of her unhappiness she needed to seek employment elsewhere. I provided her with her final check and COBRA papers, as well as some other customary termination documents. I followed her back to her desk and retrieved her building key. She packed up her personal effects and left the building in a few minutes. I wrote a memo for her personnel file enummerating the specific reasons I terminated her, including dates, circumstances, and other employees involved, etc. Since this is an "at will" state, I understand that I could have terminated her at anytime and for any reason(as long as it is not illegal) and be within my rights.
      Also, I have discussed the UI issue with one of the owners of the co. and she agrees we will not contest a claim, should one be filed.
      Last edited by calisuper; 07-11-2005, 04:39 PM. Reason: Additional information


      • #4
        Sounds like things went as well as possible; congratulations!

        Unless you are a public utility, you have no legal obligation to provide her with a written reason. In California, public utilities must, and other employers may, provide service letter.

        I think you're wise not to contest UI. It's probably not worth the hassle.

        You're right that you were entirely legal, and it sounds like you won't have any problems with her in future. But if you should run into the situation again, remember to document as things happen. It can be a lifesaver!
        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


        • #5
          Are you serious!!!?

          Nobody acts that way and keeps their job for so long unless they are having sex with the boss. Start preparing for a sexual harrasment suit or something this one does not sound over.


          • #6
            sex with which boss?

            I was her direct supervisor. I am a 51-yr-old straight woman. The only other bosses are a married couple who own the co. I was her supervisor for a year. Her previous supervisor for 4 years was a straight woman in her 30's.
            The work environment is casual. There are about 8 of us in the office, and that includes the 2 owners, neither of which is in the office more than 3 days a week for a few hours each time.
            So there is no way there was any sex going on with any boss. Her previous supervisor was also unhappy and didn't really care about making things better, she just left when she got another job and I inherited the situation and decided to do something about it.


            • #7

              Sorry just fantasizing out loud.


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