HR Strange But True!
August 24, 2006

We like to think of this column as providing a public service: While we greatly enjoy your stories about stupendously bad employees (and let's face it - it saves us work), there also seems to be some cathartic value in letting you vent about them. Take this week's entries, for example:

"As I was counseling an employee for excessive absenteeism, she somewhat indignantly explained that she had to be missing so much time because her kids were sick, she had to take them to the doctor, etc.," wrote "SP in VA." "The employee's supervisor, who was sitting in on the session, asked why the employee's husband couldn't share the load a bit so that she did not have to be calling in so frequently. 'Because, Alice, he has a job!!!' (We still aren't sure what she thought her situation was...)"

Other employees don't bother calling in at all. "I had an employee who did not report for work for 10 days. He did not call, and calls to him were unanswered. On the 11th day he was at his desk, somewhat engrossed in a project. I asked him what his reason for the unexcused absence was. He asked if he could speak to me privately, so we went into my office.

"To make this short, he informed me that he was an undercover operative for the FBI, and that because of the nature of his work, he could not tell me anything more. He also advised me that the FBI would state that he did not work for them, because of the 'secret work' he was doing. I fired him for the unexcused absence with the note that if he could produce evidence of his alleged activity, I would consider rehiring him. Fortunately, I was never given the opportunity to rehire him!"

Some employees haven't learned that honesty is not always the best policy. "How about the woman we hired a couple of months ago?" one of our readers wrote. "After 2 weeks, she explained that she would need to take time off occasionally because she was still interviewing! We fired her that day."

The problem of sleeping receptionists is more widespread than we knew. "On her second day, I found our receptionist sleeping on the job. The next day, when I had a witness in the room for the termination process, I told her that while she obviously could not perform the smallest task, sleeping on the job is certainly grounds for immediate termination. She asked whether I caught her sleeping in the morning or in the afternoon. Flabbergasted, I asked what the difference was. She said that if I saw her sleeping in the morning, it was because she was tired from drinking the night before. If I saw her sleeping during her afternoon shift, it was due to 'this f***ing boring job.' She then asked for a month's severance."

And then there are those bad -- and scary -- employees. "Psyched Out in North Carolina" sent us this story: "The worst employee I ever had was a 2nd lieutenant who worked for me when I was a captain in the Marine Corps. I don't know if she didn't like working for another woman or if she was just plain lazy, but I could never get her to do anything (she was dumped on me after being transferred around several other departments -- no one wanted her in their unit).

"The last straw was when she started leaving 'anonymous' (or so she thought) notes on my desk that read, 'I wish your head would explode.' I am not making this up! I quickly sent her for a psychological evaluation, where she was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and immediately discharged from the Marine Corps. Maybe I'm the one who should have been paranoid!"

With all this talk about bad employees, the really bad bosses out there have been getting a free pass. Send us some nominees for the Boss from Hell (and we'd still like to hear more bad employees stories, too). Same address:

TGIF - It's HR
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