Last week, an Illinois factory worker showed up to work with a gun, when he thought he was going to be terminated.
According to news reports, the worker, Gary Martin, brought the gun into a meeting where he suspected he was going to be terminated. As is typical of such terminations, the Human resources manager was present, together with the plant manager, a supervisor and an HR intern. Many of my clients have been terminated in similar meetings.
Mr. Martin was a 15-year employee of the company, Henry Pratt Co., in Aurora, Illinois. I have had many clients who have been long-term employees, and who were fired. The termination happens in meetings just like the one in Aurora. Clients of this Houston employment lawyer and Miami employment lawyer have had jobs at a company for 20, 30 and 40 years when they are suddenly terminated for “performance” issues, or often, when they get a new supervisor.
I have often wondered how HR or upper-management lets this happen, that is, the termination of a long-term employee who has done a great job, but may have had some incident at work or a new supervisor or some other relatively minor issue compared to their storied career. With all the HR seminars that go on across the country, you’d figure they might discuss the possibility of having an ombudsman to advocate for these long term workers. After all, the knowledge that has been accumulated and the long term stellar record of work, are compelling reasons to want to keep such employees.
Of course, shooting and killing the HR manager and plant manager can never be justified. Unfortunately, this has happened many times before, especially within the U.S. Postal Service, thus, the phrase, “going postal.” I wonder if HR professionals will start to have armed security present in their termination meetings. I’ve certainly had cases where my clients have been escorted off the premises by armed security at their company (always very embarrassing to the employee).
Surely, HR professionals will be reevaluating the termination process in light of last week’s incident, and perhaps coming up with ways to save the jobs of experienced, long-term employees, rather than firing them in that dreaded termination meeting. Or, perhaps, they will be discussing safer ways to do such terminations where they are not forced to risk their lives.
Bruce Coane is a Houston employment lawyer and Miami employment lawyer representing workers, nationwide, in cases of wrongful termination. He may be reached at 713-850-0066 or 305-538-6800, and via email at [email protected].