In The Trenches

Okay, HR fans, here’s the game, I give you a real-life HR scenario and you tell me how you would handle it if your were the HR person in charge of handling it. Got it!?  Here’s the issue:

You’re a Regional HR Manager of a major chain of Pizza restaurants, most of your business is home delivery.  This means you primarily have location managers, pizza cooks and drivers.  It’s a random Tuesday in the Detroit metro area and one of your drivers leaves on a delivery to local address.  When the driver arrives to the address and goes to the door, there are two armed men there to rob him of his $37 and change, and of course the pizza. 

Unbeknownst to the would-be robbers and you, your driver grew up on the streets of Detroit, and he is legally carrying a concealed weapon of his own (gotta love the D!).  He decides he’s not giving up his $37 or his Pizza without payment, and he let’s off 3 shots into one of the would be robbers and takes off.  Your driver didn’t get hurt, didn’t get robbed, but he also didn’t deliver that pizza!  The shot robber was discovered by police at a nearby hospital and booked, the other robber has yet to be found.  (By the way – this is from an actual story in Detroit this week!) You get the call from one of your District Manager who wants to know what she should do with your driver, who is looking to return to work, he’s got a family to feed.

Now, what do you do Mrs. or Mr. Regional HR Manager of Jet’s Pizza?  (a very good pizza place, by the way.  Also, little known Michigan fact for those who don’t live in Michigan – for some reason Michigan is like the large pizza chain capital of the world with both Little Caesars and Domino’s being started and headquartered in Michigan. No one knows why.)

Classic HR theory would have us look at our policies and past practices.  What? You mean you might have had this happen before?!  It’s Detroit, it might have happened earlier that evening.  You have a policy against your employees shooting your customers? Again, it’s Detroit, the policy might actually spell out when it’s alright to shoot customers.  Regardless, something will happen to this young man. Will you fire him, do nothing, set him up with EAP, reward him so other employees do the same, etc.?

Hit me in the comments and let me know what action you would take if this was your HR shop.  I’ll follow later with what action I would take

7 thoughts on “In The Trenches

  1. Hey Tim…I posted this on TLNT earlier: Talk about a HR nightmare…if this was my call, irregardless of stats, I would probably move to terminate the employee. Albeit with some form of severance or bonus or whatever you may call it.

    As a disclaimer, I am totally pro 2nd amendment, and honestly believe that people should carry (at their discretion) for protection. I have my CCP and always carry (when I’m not at work). I also make it a habit of getting to the range as often as I can to make sure I stay proficient with handling my firearm. I honestly believe this guy did a great job in defending himself and not hurting any innocent bystanders in the process. While this particular employee did well in the use of his firearm during this particular situation, what goes to say that the next guy will do equally as well in a similar situation?

    Guns in the workplace just opens up the employer to too much liability. While I’m all for civilians arming themselves, the reality is that your average person isn’t prepared to deal with a situation once the sh*t hits the fan. A firearm in the hands of someone who is not proficient with the weapon can cause irreparable harm to innocent bystanders. Would the employer be liable for that? Chances are yes.

    For an employer to allow their employees to carry in situations such as the one’s described in your post without proper AND ongoing training is reckless (although by the sound of it…seems like Detroit offers plenty of opportunities to gain weapons proficiency). If the employer isn’t willing to take on the additional training costs for developing weapons proficiency among it’s employees then I would probably develop a policy to ensure that the workplace is a gun-free zone (as much as it pains me to say that).


  2. Oh this is fun! HR is not hard, a lot of times it really just boils down to making sure we do the right thing. The awesome thing is there are so many policies and guidelines and legal parameters that are worded in such a way that we have the ability to make an argument for any action we take. I say throw him in an EAP (I imagine shooting someone is a little traumatizing, but then again I’ve never lived in Detroit) and start thinking of how you want to best equip your workforce for situations similar to this going forward. But hell, what do I know, I’m just a millennial…

  3. I started my life as a pizza delivery driver in a rural town, and we had several instances of standoffs between armed robbers and pizza delivery folks. I’m not sure if this happens everywhere, but it seemed commonplace enough when I was 18.

    If anyone flashed a piece at us, we’d try and avoid the situation; however, we had 3 delivery guys (of 5) who carried weapons with them while they were out. While no one was ever shot, people definitely got shot at on both sides. It was a risk we all understood that we were taking, especially delivering to certain areas.

    If the driver had a CCW, he is legally within his rights to carry. The shooting is a different story, and unless he was in some serious danger, then I think that was a massive error in judgement. Almost killing someone for $37.00 dollars and a pizza without being severely threatened is silly.

    If the shooting happened arbitrarily, fire him. If he was genuinely threatened, then let him return to work and try not to make a big deal about him almost killing someone over two Jacksons.

  4. Since the driver presumably has a CCW license, he should be put back to work as soon as possible. There is enough precedent set in Detroit that if a gun is pulled in a robbery 8 times out of 10 the person on the receiving end of the bullet will die no matter what. Sad to say, it’s a reality here. If I’m not mistaken, if you have a CCW, you must keep the gun with you at all times. If you are driving it should be kept in the glove compartment. But, again, this is Detroit and it is a pizza delivery guy.

  5. This really does get down to company policy, and prevailing circumstances. As a company with drivers who routinely work in dangerous situations, we have a CCW policy that allows employees to carry while working. Though the policy certainly does not specify that employees are allowed to shoot anyone, I don’t think you can have a policy that allows an employee to carry a weapon and then expect them to not use it under certain circumstances. If if was one of our drivers, we would not terminate an employee solely on the basis that they used their weapon, however, there is also no guarantee that we wouldn’t terminate. That would depend on circumstances and whether there was a reasonably safe alternative to shooting the assailant.

  6. This is a complex situation on may levels.

    1. You don’t want other employees to follow this example because if they do in the future and get hurt/killed that’s worst case scenario. Therefore, you do not want to promote this type of behavior. In bank robberies Tellers are instructed to give everything up without a fight. That is the best practice to avoid potential injury.

    2. You want your employees to defend themselves because if they don’t this type of thing can start happening more often. Also, the employer doesn’t want to infringe on their Second Amendment rights. Do you sign up your delivery drivers for range time? Wait, that’s not the answer either…

    3. Yes, what does policy state? Is this Florida where you can legally carry at work? No, it’s Michigan. You shouldn’t be carrying at work but it’s not that simple in the D…

    4. Boy this is complicated.

    5. Professional Final answer. Terminate the employee. While he has a constitutional right and an intrinsic value to protect himself – ultimately he can’t go firing at customers even if they are robbers. This isn’t the example Corporate wants set. He could of given up the $37 and pizza and called the police afterwords. It is bad for Jet’s brand and can ultimately hurt the business in the long run.

    6. Personal Final answer. Praise the employee for standing his ground and his bravery. Did he fire on them because he feared for his life and it wasn’t about the money or the pizza? If that’s the case I don’t blame him. Give him employee recognition for setting a precedent, promote him to management, and give him a bonus for hazardous pay.

    7. As with anything in HR – it depends… after a full investigation and learning all the details surrounding the situation and consulting with policy, attorneys, and leadership then the course of action will be decided.


  7. I would let him back to work. This is Detroit after all. The chances of someone else trying to rob him are now much slimmer since they know what can happen.

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