Bad Employees: Bringing Everyone Down

From the 2016 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition in Washington D.C.! We all know how damaging bad employees can be. Besides their own lack of productivity, they can be like an infection—causing others around them to misbehave as well. Today we’ll get some tips from Greg Hare, an employment lawyer at Ogletree Deakins Law Firm in Atlanta, GA.

Hare began his session, titled Bad Egg Employees: Don’t Let Them Make Your Organization Stink! by suggesting that when you hear the term “bad employee” you just might have a few specific employees in mind. He then asks “What can you do about bad employees?” According to Hare, lots of people respond by saying they can’t get rid of their worst employees. He responds “It’s actually quite possible to get rid of some employees, and hopefully your bad employees are among them.”

Why Is It So Hard to Let Someone Go?

When it comes to the question of why America’s work culture is so litigious, Hare asks a simple question: “How many people on that jury have been the employee?” The answer is nearly all of them. According to Hare, this is why employers rarely win jury trials.
Because of this, Hare has a crucial piece of advice for any company that might be going to trial over a termination: file a motion for summary judgement. If things go well, your case will be decided by a judge, not by a jury filled with employees.
A better strategy is to get ahead of a situation that might land you in court. It’s important to know how to identify problem employees, know your legal rights when it comes to addressing them, and protecting yourself by having good practices in place.

Who Are These Bad Employees?

Hare’s general position revolves around the notion that some employees simply cannot be fixed. Hare states that at some point “you just have to realize that you are spending way too much time on the squeaky wheel that needs all of the grease.”
Hare suggests a few types of employees whom you need to look out for.

  1. The hypersensitive and easily offended. It’s just a matter of time before this kind of employee decides that an otherwise innocuous business practice is reason enough to take legal action against the company.
  2. The unprepared and those who are not prepared for conflict at work. Whenever a coworker is uncomfortable airing his or her grievances with the boss or the HR manager, they build an emotional bomb that will 1 day explode in a spectacular and potentially litigious way.
  3. The unpredictable and passive/aggressive. Hare says that some people simply cannot accept that their manager might occasionally criticize them. If they can’t accept the criticism and move on, they just might start incorrectly forming the notion that theirs is a hostile work environment.
  4. The two faced kiss up/kick down boss. Hare says that this kind of boss always looks perfect in front of the person who is higher than he or she. The second this boss is not supervised, however, he or she comes down hard on the workers. These are the bosses who act like chameleons to upper management and can create an environment where the good workers are leaving but the bad bosses remain. It creates a toxic environment, according to Hare.
  5. The equal opportunity jerk. These employees may not discriminate, but according to Hare, they just spread the negativity around no matter what. They can run off the good workers as well, or worse; they can create a legal situation when they treat someone poorly or in a discriminatory manner who is part of a protected class.

Tomorrow we’ll hear more of what Hare says you can do to deal with such employees.

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