Ridiculous Terminations

Once in a while in HR we have to make ridiculous decisions to terminate an employee.   Maybe it’s a well liked, popular employee, an employee with long tenure close to retirement, an employee who did something supporting their beliefs but still wrong, etc.  Those kinds of decisions come in all shapes and sizes.

What about firing an employee who was abused by a spouse, and because the company feared the spouse might come to the placement of employment, HR terminated the employee to protect all the rest of the employees?

What do you think about that call HR friends?

I have had to fire some employees for reasons I did not support in the least, but I was directed by a senior executive to do it.  Period.  I had two choices – 1. Fire the employee, or 2. Lose my own job and someone else would fire the employee.  While those few and far times don’t sit well with any HR Pro, most of us are put in that type of situation at least a few times in our career.  Do I become a martyr and quit to show my support for this employee, or save myself?  I’ve always decided to save myself.  Family to feed, mortgage to pay – does it really matter the reasons – either way I’ve had to compromise my true beliefs and do something I didn’t believe in.

As Paul Smith says – “Welcome to the Occupation!” (Great HR blogger, BTW, Check him out)

So, what about our example above with your employee who is being abused and you fire her because you don’t want her crazy husband showing up at your office with a gun?! What did you decide?  Let this poor woman fend for herself, or are you going to help her and put all of your employees at risk?  I bet a fair amount of you are not going to fire her!! What if I told you she was an elementary school teacher and her place of employment was surrounding 400 children. Now what do you do?!?!

From Gawker and a real-life example from San Diego, CA:

Earlier this year, Carie Charlesworth and her four children were removed from Holy Trinity School after she gathered up the courage to disclosed her struggles with domestic violence to the school’s principal.  After what the second-grade teacher’s called “a very bad weekend with [her ex-husband],” the unidentified man arrived outside the school, prompting a lockdown.

She was subsequently put on “an indefinite leave,” and then formally terminated three months later.”

Of course the employer wouldn’t comment on publicly about personnel issues. (I love that HR statement!)

Want to know why women don’t come forward about domestic violence issues? It only takes a few examples like this.  This is one HR firing I don’t think I could have done – losing my job or not – I’m positive my wife and kids would have understood. I understand you need to protect all of those children – but you need to try some other things before throwing out an employee and 4 of those kids onto the street to fend for themselves.

5 thoughts on “Ridiculous Terminations

  1. Talk about damned if you do and damned if you don’t. This is a highly complex and sensitive situation. Quite the anomaly. I hope with this termination came with a significantly enormous severance package. My cognitive abilities tell me that’s unlikely. The world we live in…

  2. Ladies –

    I agree with you – seems crazy you would ever do this someone who is being abused. But – I wonder how do we as HR Pros reconcile the safety of all those kids at the school? Very tough situation – and one that demonstrates how difficult HR can be sometimes – no easy decision on this!

    You would not want to be the HR person who said – we are keeping her – then the guy shows up and kills a bunch of kids…

    Ugh! Terrible situation all the way around –


  3. When a person is being abused, man or woman, their job is extremely valuable to their wellbeing. They’re usually cut off from friends and family, meaning that they don’t have anyone other than the abuser to depend on. That woman’s job was her only hope of being able to leave.

    Did the school at least put her in touch with domestic violence resources to help her?

  4. I agree with Eva – I don’t believe I could have fired her either. Wouldn’t it have been better to help her and her children in to a domestic violence shelter?

  5. I couldn’t have fired her. This just shows the ex that he won. This gives battering husbands reason to go to their wives employers. They can get them fired and the women end up dependent on them and the cycle never ends. This is just sad.

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