My brother owns a structural engineering firm and has an employee who has a physical disease that causes him to be late and/or call in sick a lot. I can be sympathetic with this young guy’s health situation, but I believe he uses it to get away with things the other employees would never be able to get away with. My brother is good to all his employees, but he tends to overlook things this young man does that he wouldn’t overlook with the others. Most recently, my brother recommended him for a small side job so he could make some extra money. The customer was going to be out of town when the work was scheduled to be done, so he paid the young man in advance. The young man didn’t do the work. When the customer got home and saw the work wasn’t done, he was understandably very upset and called him to find out why he didn’t do the job. The young guy only said he forgot about it. He not only didn’t apologize or offer to do the work, but he also didn’t offer to return the customer’s money. The customer had to tell him he wanted it back. Despite his disease, this employee should have handled this incident (and other incidents) much differently. He not only made himself look awful, but he also made my brother look real bad since he recommended him. I told my brother he should fire him, but he hates conflict, so I’m concerned he’ll just let it go like he does so many other things. How do you think my brother should handle this?
-Termination is the only option
Dear Termination is the only option:
First, as you obviously understand and your brother must also understand, when this employee is working for your brother or doing a side job because of his recommendation, your brother’s reputation is at stake as much as the employee’s.
Second, this employee’s most recent inappropriate conduct had nothing to do with his physical disease which makes it intolerable. But if your brother has always been lenient with him and has never held him accountable for this kind of behavior, I cannot say he should be fired at this point in time. Your brother needs to have a firm talk with the young man where he provides him with detailed guidelines as to what is and is not acceptable behavior, and what will be the consequences if he does not adhere to these guidelines. Termination should be one of the consequences detailed in these guidelines. Equally important, your brother must make sure this employee understands everything he communicates to him during this talk. Then, if the employee does what the guidelines say will lead to termination, your brother is not only justified in firing him but should do so unless there is some extenuating circumstance(s).
Best of luck to your brother!
© 2014 Rozanne R. Worrell