HR Strange But True!
March 27, 2008

There is nothing funny about people losing their jobs. We understand that. That is not to say, though, that some terminations--or their precipitating or consequential events--are not stranger than others. The following reader submissions illustrate the point.

Not Quite Sinking In

"As the real estate loan officer at a former employer, I decided that, due to poor attendance and error-filled documents, I had to terminate the employment of a clerk. She looked at me and said, 'I'm not leaving,' and sat down at her desk. I told her she could sit there, but as of that minute I was no longer paying her to do so."

In a somewhat similar vein was this one:

"The director of our laboratory and I were finishing up a termination meeting with an employee we were firing for well-documented issues surrounding his incompetence. Before he left, the now-former employee asked if he could reapply for his position after 30 days if we hadn't filled it with someone else. I explained that in situations such as this, employees are not eligible for rehire. What I really wanted to say to him probably would have gotten me fired!"

He May Have a Point

"Many years ago, early in my HR career, I had to deliver a termination message to an underperforming employee. When I told him that he was being terminated, he told me that only God could terminate him."

Let's Go to the Videotape

"A male employee was found to have used a company video camera to secretly videotape female co-workers, paying special attention to an attractive female employee. The video included zooming in to certain body parts. When confronted with the evidence, the employee admitted that he had taken the videos because 'he was bored.' After being told that he was terminated, the employee said, 'OK, but can I have the videotape?'"

Scatological Commentary

"My strangest termination happened this way. A memo was posted for our forklift drivers to start coming in 15 minutes before shift to do a safety check on their forklifts. They were to clock in and be paid for this time. One employee complained to his supervisor that we needed 2-ply memo paper, because his finger had poked through the memo. Apparently, he had taken down the posted memo, gone to the bathroom, and used the memo as toilet paper! That's not all--he proceeded to repost the memo with his 'personal comment' on the bulletin board! Needless to say, he was terminated for insubordination and did not receive unemployment benefits."

Maybe His Next Job Was Here ...

"I worked in a high-tech company for years. In general, our offices and restrooms stayed relatively clean. Suddenly, we started having issues with one of our men's rooms. Someone was smearing--how shall I say this?--nasal and fecal matter on the walls of the stalls. Since you can't videotape restrooms, we were at a bit of a loss to identify the perpetrator, so we tried sending out a companywide e-mail asking for the behavior to stop. You can imagine how effective that was. Employees even put signs up in the bathroom, but to no avail. Then one day we let one of our temporary employees go. After a couple of days, we realized that the 'marking' of the restroom had stopped. I guess we found the perpetrator after all...."

What Procedure Would That Be, Exactly?

"An employee was found drunk in the kitchen and fired. A couple days later, he came to the glass doors in front of the HR office and mooned the HR rep. We installed a panic button the same week and created a procedure."

A Dangerous Undertaking

"I had terminated a young woman in my office toward the end of the day and then walked her back to her workspace, which happened to be at the front desk of a medical clinic. We still had patients in the waiting room. She proceeded to kick her trash can across the room and then kicked me really hard in the shin. She got me right at the really tender spot in the shin and tears immediately formed in my eyes, although I managed not to yelp in pain. I think I moaned a little but was able to keep my composure to escort her (limping the whole way) to the door. That was my most 'painful' termination, literally!"

And, finally, loyal reader Deldra described this incident:

"I worked for a nonprofit and had to terminate a very long-term employee. During the termination interview, he didn't say anything. I wished him the best. The next day, I was looking out my window and saw him in the parking lot quickly heading toward the building. It was 80 degrees but he had on a long black coat. I was sure he had a shotgun under his coat and was coming for me! Because I didn't have time to close my office door, I jumped out of my chair and hid under my desk. I heard him as he walked past the receptionist. He didn't say a word! I knew I was a goner! Apparently he was just going to payroll to get his check. As he was leaving, I heard him tell the receptionist to tell me he was leaving and I could stop hiding. I didn't realize he could see me because the front of my desk didn't come down to the floor!"

Source: Our intrepid readers

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