Can't wait to fire this guy

I'm working on a termination of an employee that I've been dying to fire! He's on a written warning for viewing porn at work (questionable as to whether illegal child porn or not - they sure look under 18 to me) and is currently having an amount deducted each payperiod for personal charges to his company credit card that he wasn't able to pay. That credit card was cancelled, but apparently he also had quite a large limit on his company purchasing card - that bill is paid directly by the company and the employee goes in and reconciles the charges (to a project, client, his own dept, etc.). Apparently, he had been using that purchasing card for monthly personal purchases and never reconciled so the charges hit his dept each month (manager didn't notice). Purchasing finally gets fed up and notifies HR. We went back a year and the amount is several thousand dollars. We're definitely terminating, but the question is - would you deal with the money he's basically stolen as theft and notify the police (not sure what they would do)? or sue him (not sure legal would want to do this)? Waiting for our attorneys to return from an out of town meeting, but wondering how you guys would handle.


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  • Dear Caey,
    As for the money he has used for personal reasons through the company credit card. Do you have clear guidelines that state the purpose and intent of this card, and what that consequences are if this is violated? But, even if this is not in written format, as long as you have proof that he has been charging items for personal use you can terminate. However, what has been yur past practice, how do you know that someone else is not doing the same thing and you have not caught him? NOW... the issue of the porn, does your company have securities in place to detect inappropriate access with the company PC's. If not get them in.
    In the last year we went through similar situations. The first, in the process f investigating a theft, we discover several employees missuse of the cell phones assigned to them. We consulted with our attorney and we terminated. With respect with the porn, the FBI contacted us to let us know that someone in one of our facilities was accessign porn sites (kitty porn) It has taken us three months to catch this prson, because we did not have the propper securities with in our computer system. We contacted our attorney, and his recomendation was cooperate with the FBI, et them take the first step. If it was one of our employees, once caught by the FBI we could make our move. (Be carefull with this, you can ruin a persons life if yor ducks are not all in a row on this one-BIG liability for the company)
    This last weekend we caught the person, he used to work for us many years ago, no one knew he had a master key that he was still using to gain entry intoour plant during times were the plant was closed.
    I say, get him for the use of the card and if you want recoup the money, you have to take him to small claims court. You can not decuct what he owes from his last check. Terminate for grossmisconduct, he will not be eligible for COBRA nor for rehire.

  • It's amazing what people think they can get away with at work. Did he think he would not get caught?! x:o No need to answer that. I'm a little stunned.
    Your lawyers are the best people to talk to. They will guide you through the best way to handle this. The company should be able to press charges. I hope everything works out.
  • I have no answer for you, but I'm interested in what others have to say. We had 2 supervisors (in same region, in same month) run up $1200 and $1400 cell phone bills on company phones. Our policy, which they must sign at hire, says they reimburse for personal calls, but of course, neither could pay it. So we ended up setting up payroll deductions (just as you described) to get the money back. Meanwhile, we were keeping these people just so they'd have to pay back, but we would rather have terminated them. And of course, they quit before they paid off their bills. We had this same discussion at work ...what to do? And to top it all off, one of them had the nerve to apply again several months later...she couldn't believe she wasn't eligible for rehire! I'm very interested in what others tell you.

    BTW, why didn't you terminate him when he had the porn & the credit card charges?


  • I would think this could be handled the same way as embezzeling funds from the company. Legally what you can do depends upon how much money is involved. Contact an attorney about this.

    I would not want this guy working for my company any longer. If you can afford it, take the hit and fire him. If the money is substantial, advise him that you will be filing charges against him. If he is convicted, he will have to pay restitution.

    As far as the one about the cell phone usage, you need to make the payroll deduction large enough to "hurt". Don't allow them to pay $10 or $15 a pay period. This will not deter this type of behavior. Make sure you put a policy in place that abuse of cell phone may lead to revoking of cell phone and or termination of employment.
  • You have several issues. First, viewing porn (whether or not it child porn)should be just cause for termination (assuming you have it in your rules). Second, you have to speak to your attorneys about getting the money back. Abuse of a credit card should also be cause for termination.
    Finally, you state that the manager didn't notice that there was not a reconciliation of the charges. Why not? The fact that the manager let the situation get out of hand should not be overlooked.
  • I have always wondered if it is legally permissable to discharge the employee and then advise him that if he does not repay the full amount to the company within 30-60 days that a police report will be made. That might solve 2 problems........he is fired....and you get the money back.
  • What memories this post brings back. I previously worked for a very large company, Fortune 500. This company gave out corporate credit cards way too much. I have two stories to share:

    The first employee allowed his spouse to use the corporate card to shop at the best stores in the area, because she was depressed. He thought this would make her feel batter. When he was confronted he agreed to pay back the personal charges, then filed bankruptcy two weeks later. So we only got a fraction of the money owed. We couldn't terminate based on the opinion of our corporate attorneys.

    The second employee was working out of town. His supervisor asked me to monitor the spending, because it went up sharply when this employee joined the group. During my initial sit down with the employee I noted their were several charges to a 'limo' service, sometimes 3-4 times per day. When I asked him about this, he said there were no taxicabs in the state of Arizona. Needless to say I did some checking and found out this 'limo' service did not offer transportation, but it was an escort service. This employee was treating his fellow workers to rides of a different kind. When I had all of the information to confront him he still denied it. I told him we had contacted the ladies who had completed the charge slips and they were able to describe him in great detail. The gig was up and he did end up paying back the $19,500.00 charges for the rides.

    In both cases we should have terminated, but didn't. The individual in the first story went on to steal from the company a year later. However our corporate credit card agreement was improved to close the loopholes and help us get the money back.

    I guess my advise would be if you terminate them, you will have a devil of a time getting the money back, and in your case I don't think you want to keep him. Please update this post and let us know what happens!
  • I say terminate immediately. File charges with the DA as to the misappropriation of funds. As others suggested, restitution may be forthcoming, but do not keep the EE on just because of the debt. Some things are more important than money. The internet porn, especially if it is child porn, and the misappropriation cannot be condoned. Send the message to this EE and your entire staff that you will not tolerate this behavior. Even if you never get a nickel of it back, take the hit, send the message and move on. You are better off without this EE on staff.

    Someone else mentioned the problem with the supervisor - do not let that go. That supervisor is your first line of defense and needs to understand that these responsibilities are important.
  • Don't wait - term immediately, try to get reimbursement or at least an agreement. If he doesn't, file charges. My brother-in-law has his own law firm, and while his office manager was not viewing kiddy porn, she was doing other egregious actions - plus she owed money. He's not an employment lawyer, neither does he have any on staff. I told him to term and get her out. They'll probably have to sue to get their money back, but in the long run the stuff they've dug up since she's been gone makes them realize that if they had let her stay to pay the money back it was going to cost them a lot more in the long run.
  • Okay - I'm a brat. I agree with others about term'ing the ee & pursuing legal action, but here's where the brat comes out...Why would you put an ee on a written warning for viewing porn at work - doesn't your policies allow termination under those types of circumstances? Also, my purchasing & accounting departments go through every bill with a fine tooth comb & it's not because they have a lot of time on their hands, it's because we have policies in place that MAKE IT THEIR JOB to do so. Finally, if the ee views porn at work, uses the company credit card to purchase personal items - my money's on the fact that this ee has probably broken A NUMBER of other policies as well - what's their attendance like? I'm not trying to irritate you or even one-up you, by mentioning these things, I am simply asking - how good are your policies & how well are they implemented & who's accountable if they are not followed & who's responsible for updating them when the policies don't provide the company the protection it needs (x;-), okay four question in one sentence). I hope you do follow up with the supervisor, but I also hope that you and your organization take a look at the four questions above and see how y'all can improve the process. Just my thoughts. I'm sorry if I offended you or others.
  • I love it when you talk----- plain.xclap
  • No offense taken at all - this guy has frustrated me for months! Our policy doesn't allow us to term for the first porn offense - so we did the written. We are a very large company, so our expense procedures are pretty well automated. That's my guess as to why our reports aren't scrutinized, but this went on way too long and our accounting group needs to put some procedures into place to red flag these issues sooner. We only went back a year on his account, but he's had it for four, so I'm sure there's more. Performance-wise, this guy's a star, which is why he's still here (I mean besides the kiddie porn and embezzlement!). He works long hours (much of it unsupervised at odd hours) but his manager has told me he produces great work and his clients are happy.
  • Before you fire this guy , the star embezzler -
    maybe you better have a good replacement hired , aboard and up and running- so that the clients stay happy and don't take a lot of business elsewhere.


  • ABout six years ago, we had a manager receive a a five day suspension for viewing porn. He brought his lawyer in. The lawyer stated that the computer was in an open area, and "anyone could have used his computer." Needless to say, at that time we did not have a policy regarding personal use of the internet. We now had all ee's sign an internet policy. Last year we terminated over seven employees for misuse/personal use of computers. We have all types of monitoring systems in place now. The sad part, is we had to give him back the five days. He retired last year!!
  • Thanks for all your responses. Some of you brought up issues I hadn't thought of (like COBRA ineligibility). We do have policies on both internet usage and credit card usage. We followed our policy on the porn issue and he received a written warning and would be terminated for another violation. We investigated to see if it was illegal child porn and our corp security didn't think it was, so we weren't able to go to law enforcement (and we would have terminated then).

    I found out this morning he has just about paid off the previous TWO Amex "overages" totalling about $5,500 (his balance is $300 now). All of that happened and the payroll deductions were set up without HR knowing about it. I imagine his manager did, but now he has a new one. This latest Amex issue was brought up by purchasing, but only after a long time of him not reconciling the charges. It's a Purchasing issue since the charges are not easily identifiable by a manager on the reports they get each month. Purchasing needs to do a better job of identifying and following up on these sorts of charges. We do have his signed acknowledgement when he got the card that it was not for personal use and violation could result in termination. We are terminating as soon as we can get his final checks cut, but will ask him to agree to let us withhold his final pay and we will agree not to pursue legal action (small claims court and criminal prosecution). If not, we'll have to give him his pay and I will get to take a trip to Small Claims Court.

    You are all right - even if we couldn't get the money back, we (or at least I) want him out of here. His manager is still wishy-washy on the subject of termination (but we didn't give him a choice) because he's "such a creative talent." There have been other issues (charging a client for time when I'm certain he was here looking at porn on Sundays) that the manager chose to ignore because of his "talent."
  • One of the most 'creative talents' I extremely intelligent and likable person, took advantage of holes in the accounting reconcilliation system for over 8 years and six figures. I say get rid of him before he can figure out another way to take the company.
  • Ok, so I know between accounting and the guys supervisor someone should have caught the personal items sooner, but do not overlook the other person who knew about the personal charges, the guy making them! He has an attitude that he will pay you back if you catch him. What kind of a game is this. Knowing violations of the policy over and over, perhaps for several years? That seems like grounds for termination to me.
  • Just be careful when you term!!! /:) We had a GM that misappropriated $500,000, gave himself a $1,200 monthly car allowance and had all personal dry cleaning done at company expense. We followed a lawyer's advice & termed. We are now paying him a $250,000 settlement x:'( because we didn't terminate him correctly (he didn't get a chance to speak in front of the board of directors before being termed). Make sure you follow to the letter.
  • RLCD,

    I don't understand your process. Are you saying taht your company, or perhaps your state, provides a hearing in front of the board prior to termination? Or is this a policy for firing exempt employees? Is Illinois an "at will" state?

    Just curious,

  • As General Manager, he was supposed to be able to talk to our Board of Directors regarding the allegations before being terminated. He talked to them individually, but never was put on the agenda to speak at an actual board meeting.
  • We don't work very quickly at this company, but we have followed all of our procedures and he is being terminated tomorrow. He will be shocked because he has always gotten away with it. This is one term where I'm having Security outside the door and they will escort him to his office to pack up and to his car to watch him drive away. Hopefully I'm overreacting - we'll see how it goes.

    I'm trying to suppress my sympathy - he's got six kids (good Mormon).
  • It is indeed unfortunate that children might suffer, but I hope you had your tongue in your cheek when you said he was a good mormon. This guy has been ripping your company off without a qualm, for a lot of money and for a long time. I don't think that qualifies as "good."

    Stay strong, and consider having his supervisor in the office as a witness.
  • Second warning for looking at porn at work? Embezzling money?

    I live in Mesa, AZ, home to one of two temples in the state. We indeed have a high Mormon population in the city. And those that I know would hardly call this guy a good Mormon - or a good anything for that matter.
  • The "Porn" scenerio happened to us just about a month ago. EE was off (his garage door opener didn't work, and he couldn't figure how to get out of the garage, sort of like the dog ate my homework story), anyway, another EE's computer crashed so he used the EE's computer. As he started going on the Internet, he saw some unusual websites popping up and reported and brought me into the picture. We immediately took the computer down (after running a list of sites the EE was visiting.) I obtained his time and attendance so we could match his work schedule with his "viewing times." We wanted to make sure he was using the computer and not someone else using his computer. Everything matched up. We couldn't figure out how he was able to get away with the viewing, it went on for hours, and he is in a small room with three other guys. He would bring the site down on his screen and keep it small and would view during lunch time and breaks and whenever else he could. I think part of the thrill was to be getting away with what he was doing. I packed his desk up and had his final check ready. When he reported to work the next morning, his Manager and I greeted him at the front desk and ushered him into "the room." He at first tried to wiggle out, but I very gently slid my paperwork over one collage of "12 year old" girls (facing towards him.) Bingo, gotcha!!! Maybe you should look at the Manager who wants to keep someone like this, might need further investigation into his habits.
  • My head is spinning! I can't believe that this guy is still working for you. I have to agree with all of the responses but mainly: if he's doing this stuff, it's probably only the tip of the iceberg--my guess is he's got the whole system figured out!
    FIRST PORN VISIT! What on earth is that about? What kind of business are you in? I can't think of many businesses that looking at porn would be bonafide business usage of the company's IT system.
    Stealing is stealing--nearly $5500 of inappropriate credit card charges is probably a felony--I would have pursued charges.
  • UPDATE: Okay, you guys are going to love this. SherryAnn - not that this will stop your head spinning, but we don't disallow personal use of the internet at work. We know that we have dedicated employees who spend a lot of time at work, and don't want those employees to be violating policy to check their bank balance or send flowers online, so we allow it as long as it doesn't become a performance issue. We do have a specific policy about viewing inappropriate websites, however, and followed that policy in this case by giving a written warning for the first offense. (This guy's first offense turned out to be a second, but no one passed the first on to HR to handle, so it slipped through the cracks.) His official first offense included A LOT of porn sites over a two day period primarily. Anyway, this isn't really the issue now since I've had IT Security pull a report each month since this happened and he's stayed clean. The new news on the stealing issue is - he's still our employee!! I know, I know. I was actually in the process of inputting his final timesheet so payroll could run the check and his manager called and said a VP wanted to talk to the employee and to my manager. That VP had his talk and then had a chat with a President and the two of them decided that the employee had a "disease," was remorseful, would pay us back, and they were confident it wouldn't happen again. We went to an HR VP who said he would not go over the head of the other VP/Pres so there we were. I drafted a final written warning basically saying if does anything wrong, he's gone and a repayment agreement ($5000 due now and $500 a month payroll deduction until the $9000 he owes is paid). Found out after that he had charged another $2400 to the purchasing card and have since turned it all over to internal audit. I'm hoping that it's got enough Corporate attention that the decision to not terminate will be over-ridden (if that's a word). But for now, am in a wait and see mode. Still checking his internet usage. There's a lot more to this story, but I've typed enough for now!

    And, yes of course I was joking about the "good" mormon comment. He is Mormon (he gave generously to BYU using company money), but I don't think anyone would consider him to be good.
  • Aside from all that's been said, I've noticed a couple of things that I think may be borderline inappropriate. "I can't wait to fire this guy", and "He's been frustrating me for months". You make it sound so personal, if not personally satisfying. I would think the goals of the company would be in the forefront somewhere, rather than a personal desire for some sort of revenge. A religious remark is also inappropriate. We all have similar feelings from time to time, I guess, but, it's something about the way they seemed to be 'the cattleguard at the very front of the locomotive', as if those things were larger than the company's business decisions and interests and were the driving force behind all of your actions. I don't disagree that he should have been terminated a long time ago.
  • Don - from one of your posts, "I suspect it may indeed be best if the new secretary is a man. Perhaps there won't be all this petty competition going on at the business. He can also run out and get toilet paper and office supplies and won't mind parking on the far side of the parking lot."

    I don't think it's necessary for us to debate what's inappropriate. You read way too much in between the lines to come up with the driving force behind my actions, but I appreciate your comments.
  • There's no debate intended. I post my opinions. I find your whole approach to your dilemma inappropriate, personal and something you seem to delight in. Watch that machete. You might cut yourself. Your claws tend to show.

    A responsible decision would have been to terminate the employee quietly a long time ago. I think you will see that as a majority opinion in all of the posts. x:-)
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