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Message Thread:

Toxic Employee

Factory Owner Member

Business owners,

I need help with this one.

I have a small 11 man operation and like the rest of you have a hard time getting decent help. All of them are under 30 yrs. old

I hired a young female who is extremely attractive and has a very engaging personality, smart, wanted to work in a shop environment and learn how to run the machines. She has been with me for 10 months now.

I should have recognized the warning signs earlier, but I didn't, when in her interview she kept talking about how bad her former management was and how she wanted out of her work situation as fast as she could get out.

I am now everything she was saying about her former bosses.

She pushes everything to the limit in that as soon as I'm off of the shop floor she's shirking her duties and off talking with the boys, she'll take 45 mins. in the morning to get her machine fired up, then there's the trips to the bathroom to make a call on her phone away from the din of the shop, and the list could go on.

The real problem is she has the guys wrapped around her finger and has them convinced I'm the great satan and I'm constantly yelling at her, treating her different, and that if I lose her it will be a tremendous blow to the shop, and many of them have bought into it.

I know she has to go as there is not much of a chance at redemption and am putting an employee handbook together so I can start to enforce the rules and build a case for termination that will hold up to challenge.

Here's my question.

The few instances when I have said something negative about her behavior to any of the employee's it got right back to her and we would have this big blowout between us, so now I keep my observations to myself.

Is there a proper way to start to neutralize the alliances she's forged, by that I mean starting to speak to some of the guys about the issues we're having, or just get the process rolling as fast as I can to get rid of her?

Looking forward to your responses and giving more details if needed due to lack of clarity.

1/23/16       #2: Toxic Employee ...

Never hire a woman named Mel, just sayin'...

1/23/16       #3: Toxic Employee ...
D Brown

Maybe track each persons production to see it on paper also .

1/23/16       #4: Toxic Employee ...

I'm betting the reason you have not ripped the band aid off as fast as possible and fired her is you are afraid of the repercussions of such an act. Because despite the PC narrative many women lie and allegations are often false as you are finding out.

Now you've let this go on so long that you are almost assured of one, so my advice would be to be patient for one more month and video and audio yourself the whole month. Therefore when the allegations are made and she gives times and dates, you can prove they are wrong.

Anybody worth keeping will quickly shape up after she is gone. If not, folks are replaceable. Business will go on- as long as you are free (as in outside of the bars, without charges or your reputation smeared or pending) to run it.

Good luck. No matter what anyone says anytime you interject a pretty woman into an almost male space there will be problems.

1/23/16       #5: Toxic Employee ...
RobertNH  Member

First, the conversations do not happen with other employees.
Direct your comments to the individual in question.

I just had a 'like' conversation with an employee.
Basically went like this:
"I hear you have issues in how I run our company. If so, I want them brought to me, not other employee's. I am always here to listen, may not agree, but will listen."
That put the individual on point that I know what is happening.

Being the Boss is not an easy task, but it is 'your' business.
I find confronting it, making it known that I know and telling them what the consequence of a continued act is, puts the choice and result in their own hands.

We have a Company Policy in place which is a 3 strike rule before termination.
First being verbal, second being written, third is termination.
This would be part of the Handbook and a very good move to do so.

In general, I do the first also as written so it is on file if brought into question.

I am sorry that you have to go through this, yet eventually we all have to.
I didn't like it when we did it, but like you, it was brought upon us.

1/23/16       #6: Toxic Employee ...

A handbook after the fact is a bit late! But no time like the present. Document everything, in writing. You are starting off in 2nd/ 3rd place. Don't discuss other employees with employees, sets a bad president. She can cause you far more problems that a similar male employee. But taking action sooner than later is always better.

1/23/16       #7: Toxic Employee ...

A bad president - but enough about politics!

1/23/16       #8: Toxic Employee ...
Pat Gilbert

"young female who is extremely attractive"

I like how this story starts, and begs the question what could possibly go wrong?

Er ah what you describe...

Maybe talk to a lawyer to make sure you are not doing any of that stuff that the department of compliance frowns upon. Or just a google search on what not to do in this situation.

1/23/16       #9: Toxic Employee ...

There is no way that this can end well.

1/24/16       #10: Toxic Employee ...
Rich Kuban  Member

Website: closetexperts.com

Be forewarned she may be watching what is offered here. Pretty easy to access this forum.

I experienced an attempted union organization many years ago. I will never forget the words of a lawyer I was fortunate to engage to successfully repel the organization. "Whatever you are inclined to do, don't." He guaranteed human nature would worsen the situation. If she is smart, she will already be aware of how to turn your actions to her advantage. Not to take anything away from the well intentioned advice here, but I doubt anybody here is a lawyer familiar with your state labor laws. An hour or two of expert opinion purchased now may well save you thousands later. Good luck!

1/24/16       #12: Toxic Employee ...
james mcgrew Member

I had to pay that few thousand,,, Knew the employee for some years... Some how forgot the circumstances they created ten years before leading to the first departure, Not sure why I thought it would be different,

Excellent organizer, aggressive to a fault, created and took on projects without my knowledge and actually created a position they were representing them selves as in my company without my authorization,, found some of it out.

came in one day and Chaos was the agenda for them that day, they had done some really dumb stuff in their personal life. I needed to keep my schedule that day and it was not gonna allow for a Major disruption of any kind. I had to stick to my day. in my desire to attempt the best outcome, I simply asked them to take the day off, chill play with kids. we would work on any problems later. I have done this a thousand times with excellent results of caring for the employee.. They did not want nor try to see it that way, Was I firing them NO, did not even intend to. Just saw it as a part of the human experience and for the most part Knew it would take some time to gel out the kinks and get them and Us to a profitable and happy place. They all come with some baggage Ya'll

One smart move was this, the state requires a document declaring when and how much an employee gets paid and some basic rules, as time has gone on I have created a contract of employment one piece at a time. it include rules for overtime , expenses outside of permission it has some flexibility for both parties,, one thing it is is an "Ageement of minimuns" Disruptive or personal behavior is a clause. I try to upgrade it each year and it becomes a good individual conversation with each "Co worker" for both of us.

THANK GOD I HAVE A CAMERA and am smart enough to pull out My cell phone and hit record on video. even if you just hold it in your hands it will record audio..It is a magic moment of experience when one is smart enough to use all the tools at their disposal.

What happened next is well recorded and saved my A$$. once that horrible day was past then came the audits, the federal complaints the local and larger lawsuits. It took a year and at each one the employee documentation and the video got each and every one dismissed.
eventually the gone employee stop attending the hearings, court cases etc. even their own lawyer had to state "I cannot find my client" but I and the lawyers had to go through each and every complaint, one by one till it was done, took about a year.

Now I hope you noticed I speak not of Gender, race, age none of it. "EMPLOYEE" I do run a team fun shop and pray daily they want to be here, not all do on any given day but the mix is good and We all ultimately get the work done. One rule is you can have a bad day but if it turns into two or too many close together then they better be ready to talk about it. There has to be a reason in some form and a plan to deal with it. I am a recovering (&%^$#@^!) with 24 years I have seen those plans work.

Years ago I was afraid od what I did not know, expensive lawyers consultants etc. when I look back on the few hours it took to start to build that contract it seems like it was no big deal I started with what was required one piece at a time it has come together. I am not gonna get into all of the when's and where's in it but it allows for some timed dates. it spells out some reasons I will fight unemployment (Never tell them they cannot file for it) and remember sometimes it is an investment in your company to send them to a better place for them !!

And actually I owe some thanks to all at Woodweb and the online advisors I get from guys like you. I learned a lot of what to do and on that lousy day it came in handy.

1/24/16       #13: Toxic Employee ...

It's not clear, even after two attempts at reading what McGrew "wrote" just what he was getting at, but as someone who has spent a lot of time around lawyers and in civil court, I will say that having at least a tape recording of the plaintiff behaving badly can save tens of thousands of dollars. Been there, done that - record your interactions - it's now easier than ever.

1/24/16       #14: Toxic Employee ...

Do not just record yourself while you interact with this individual. Do it 24/7 for the whole month. It makes all the difference in the world she is a female and there are allegations that can be made that won't cost you thousands of dollars but years of your life, your marriage and access to your children. Better than a recording of her being nasty (although that is good, being nasty is almost dismissed if you are a woman in today's world especially if she is being "harrassed" or assualted), is a recording of you sitting at your desk talking with a client on the phone drinking coffee at the time while she claimed you were sexually harrassing her or raping her. Record 24/7 without anyone knowing.

1/24/16       #15: Toxic Employee ...
Kilgore Trout

When I last worked as an employee, the otherwise draconian place did have an effective way to deal with this. We were in a State that has an "Employment at will" clause regarding terminations. Fear of firing should never be a reason to not fire.

A final check would be prepared, paid for the day. Towards the end of the day, the employee would be called into my office and I would begin a discussion about how they have a few problems with the way things are done. They would eventually agree.

I would then agree that not everyone would agree with what I do, and we do not expect the employee to have to labor under such a burden. Being the supportive company, we want to encourage the employee to find employment in a better environment, more to their liking.

I would stand up, hand them a paycheck and extend a hand, while walking to the door. I would wish them luck and tell them to be sure to use us as a reference. Done well, the ex-employee was in the parking lot before they really knew what happened.

1/24/16       #16: Toxic Employee ...
james mcgrew Member

I film most everything in the shop 24/7 Dropcams hold data 10 days for a decent fee

1/24/16       #17: Toxic Employee ...
Factory Owner Member

Man, RoberNH,Larry, Rick,Kilgore, Pat and James (when I can sift through his dis-jointed sentences),

I appreciate your thoughts and input.

I already have an appointment set to speak with an Attorney that specializes in labor law, so I'll get versed in the do's and don'ts of our state. I'll also have him look at the employee handbook before it gets issued and have it blessed.

I'm not too concerned about the accusations being brought against me to be in the sexual harassment area, as my wife works the office end of the business and is there most of the time.

Man, you hit the nail on the head quite succinctly with your band aid analogy.

RobertNH, after making the original post I knew it wasn't a good idea to speak with the other employee's. I am making a conscious effort to spend more time with the guys on the floor so they see the side of me they were used to seeing, rather then what's being portrayed at times.

Rick, this is why I went anonymous on this post. I don't think any of my guys read woodweb, but I am aware this is a public forum.

I am interested in the legality of having secret camera's filming the shop. Good question for the Lawyer.

After reading Paul Downs "Boss Life" I will have a video camera rolling when the day comes.

Stay tuned, this will take months before it gets taken care of properly.

1/24/16       #18: Toxic Employee ...

I'm also in an employment @ will state BUT that doesn't protect you form much. They will make OSHA complaints, sex, race, gender discrimination, civil suites alleging all sorts of things. We've got written documentation but now you guys have finally made me decide to put the video cameras in.

1/24/16       #19: Toxic Employee ...
james mcgrew Member

It is your shop you can film what you want at any time, you can pull out a cell and hit record. only taping someone on a phone w/o consent is Illegal.

need to have a conversation of Note. then simply walk over near a camera in recording. they will never remember them like you do..

Some employees grumbled at first but when I proved it was not a Gotcha and it caught some unsafe situations which saved jobs now there are no complaints the Cameras protect them as well.

now the plus factor, We were doing a big desk for a Zoo client balked at paying for stored materials within minutes I sent a live feed of the desk built and stored safe the check got here the next day.

View higher quality, full size image (1018 X 717)

View higher quality, full size image (1260 X 711)

View higher quality, full size image (1162 X 716)

1/24/16       #20: Toxic Employee ...
james mcgrew Member

In the Bar business in 92 I was s et up by a law enforcement agency considering alcohol laws and underage drinking , I had been quite vocal of the methods of enforcement on legitimate businesses and it was no secret they did not find me funny. the night we were raided I told the enforcement to follow me to the kitchen where it was quieter, (WE were packed and slamming full of law students at 25 plus in age) Now those dumba$$es followed me in to the kitchen and were on vid and tape from that moment forward, I let them scream and say what ever they wanted to even antagonized them a bit. Hummmm. a couple of monts later some (At top levels Lost their Jobs) the agency SC ABC commission Was abolished and I eventually sold my last bar (Now that is a tough trade). I proved Entrapement. Now if anyone thinks I am not gonna research and do what I need to do to protect my business and employees based on an internet troll has lost their mind. Grammer Boo hoo that's why I pay a lawyer and try to learn from Guys like ya'll

1/24/16       #21: Toxic Employee ...
james mcgrew Member

Laws Concerning recording both video and Audio come down to a legal term called "One party" or "Two party" consent, in SC One party consent is acceptable in California it is two party.

look it up and know it for your state, good question for your lawyer, my Lawyer is one of my bestist Buddies like my CPA I would not employ him if I did not trust him, this is why I have not switched either in a couple of decades. that said I still look up everything he tells me.

Dude, I can appreciate your jealousy of our Southern Lingo, dialect, Salang or whatever you wish to call it. but Down heyaa most of us tend to not give a damn about what Yankees think !

1/24/16       #22: Toxic Employee ...
Pat Gilbert

He meant "not".

Give it a rest. How's about that Venn diagram that might be useful.

1/25/16       #23: Toxic Employee ...
james mcgrew Member

Website: http://mcgrewwoodwork.com

Thanks you guys, We have seen them before and He will not be the last,

Any of you want to see my shop, have a CNC, have an interest in the software I use. then I invite you to my Aspire Camp held annually. If you think this will be good for you then you know how to contact me. there is a facebook page with some info

Aspire Camp

2/6/16       #24: Toxic Employee ...


Never hire a woman named Mel, just sayin'..."

I'd agree. Trust me--most of you couldn't handle it. If that's your bad, or a Mel's bad,... well who will ever know? Might as well call it a Mel bad. :)

2/8/16       #25: Toxic Employee ...

Seriously? This thread is all over the place. The bottom line, (regardless of how or whether you extract yourself from this mess) is that you're a man, probably middle-aged and you got smitten by a young woman. It happens.

Am I incorrect? Let's look at your words, any competent lawyer would.

" I hired a young female who is extremely attractive and has a very engaging personality " ........... " I should have recognized the warning signs earlier", ( but I was too googly eyed )....... "when in her interview she kept talking about how bad her former management was " ( and I thought to myself I'll save you, damsel in distress ) instead of thinking I should probably check with that former employer.

"The few instances when I have said anything negative about her behavior to any of the employees it would get right back to her and we would have a big blowout between us"......the only thing missing here obviously is a blowup mattress and some candlelight.

Really, this isn't a shop/factory. This is a frathouse that hired the hottest cheerleader on campus, the one who got the other frat brothers to vote you out as president.

You're screwed buddy, and you're the one who did it. Cameras, recordings, etc. All good, after the fact.

How do you get a shop up to 11 employees and then realize I should probably have a handbook with rules?

Best of luck with this mess, but don't stand there looking like you didn't contribute to it. Next time leave the hiring to your wife, she won't be employing any hotties.....


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