20 Year Employee Termed

While I was on vacation last week an ee of 20 years was terminated for joking with a fellow employee that if he were fired after 20 years of working here, he would go home and get his gun and blow X,Y, and Z away. The other employee informed management of the conversation. Management followed our written anti-violence policy on this termination, and I have no doubt that we made the only decision that we could have under the circumstances.

However, now I am left to deal with the fall out. The termed emplyee was well like by almost everyone. Our GM has had issues with the ee before, as well as every other black person that works here and most of the white employees too at one time or the other. The GM claims that the only issues he has with the black employees are performance issues, yet there are no write ups in the file to verify performance issues. I don't think he is gunning for them because they are black, but because of the personalities involved. We all know how perception creates a persons reality and, our 3 of our employees feel that they are treated differently because they are black.

The GM just asked me if I could give him an example of his being percieved as being racist & I told him that he personnaly handed out everyone's Christmas bonus except the two black ee's on day shift. He made excuses and said that he didn't personally hand out everyone's Christmas bonus and use a department that is housed in another building about a mile away as his defense. He has an answer for everything.

Morale is in the toilet and I am at a lose of what to do to turn it around. Does anyone have any suggestions? Valuim?


  • 6 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • The first thing I would do is fix your anti-violence policy, if it is so strict that it left you with no option in this case.
  • C Wilson,

    I agree with Frank. Also, if your company is part of a larger organization you might consider talking to corporate HR about the GM. He seems to have a few issues and needs guidance.

    Good luck.

  • Also, it sounds like everything has been said with the GM, but if you do get another opportunity, you might remind him that you were not giving him examples of when he was racist, but rather examples of when he might have been [I][U]perceived[/U][/I] as racist. The employees only see what is right in front of them, and they thought they saw him handing out Christmas bonuses to all but the 2 blacks, whether it is correct or not. If you stick to perceptions and remind him of what they are NOT seeing, he might be less defensive and more open to changing his ways.

    Either way, it sounds like your GM could use some training himself.

    Good luck!


    I am curious, did the employee who reported the joking really believe it was a joke? Or were they uncertain? Your policy sounds too strict for us, but sometimes it depends on your business and culture as to where you have to draw the line.
  • I agree with others that your zero tolerance policy needs some consideration to give you flexibility to deal with nuanced situations such as this. Even you wrote "I dont think the GM is GUNNING for them because they are black".. Its funny how a figure of speech really seems to jump out in a situation like this.

    The thing is, this kind of joking is not funny and given some of the recent shootings, you can't really ignore it. Something needed to be done. Unfortunately, the GM's prejudices and personalities are now at issue and you have a big mess.

    To be totally honest, I think you also have a security issue to deal with. Yes, the employee was joking but even a joke indicates something. Of course, you would need to be very careful about this.

    I am not sure any of this is a solution other than my heartfelt hope that your organization is able to weather this situation and move forward.
  • We are a privately held corporation and employ around 100 people. We have a zero tolerance violence policy for several reasons, one is the type business that we are in. Over the years, there have been 3 workplace shootings with in a 10 mile radius of our location. We made the decision to err on the side of caution.

    Nae, the employee that reported this threat worked side by side with ee that made the threat. The reporting employee said this was not the first time a threat had been made, but this time there was a different tone to the conversation and he felt he had to report it.

    Paul, I agree, gunning was a poor choice of words. To my knowledge the GM and the employee that was termed had a good relationship. I wish that were true for all of our employees.

    We called the police to be on standby for the termination meeting, and it went off without incident. The GM spoke to our attorney on Friday and considered a 50-C restraining order.

    There was a court hearing this morning and the ex ee agreed to a “By Consent No-Contact Order” if the 50-C was not filed. Our attorney is drawing up the document now for signatures.

    We are having an employee meeting with first shift staff at 2:30 today to try to clear the air and move forward.

    Thanks everyone for your comments.
  • Thanks for the update C. With the general environment you are in and the details you gave, it sounds like you did the right thing. It is hard to let someone go in this economy, especially if they have been a long term employee. However, it would be much worse to try to explain to surviving family members why you kept the employee after he went on a shooting spree.

    Keep your guard up for awhile, just to be one the safe side.

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