High-Risk Termination Case Study
September 28, 2020

Overview:

A remote employee was asked to join a virtual call to discuss productive concerns. As a result, the employee physically threatened the management staff and a union representative. The employee also threatened self-harm.

Background Details:

  • Employee usually works in an office setting, but due to COVID, he has been working remotely
  • His manager had previously discussed production and performance concerns with the employee
  • Employee had failed to comply with previous directives
  • As a result of the continued poor performance, the employee’s manager, human resources, and union representative set up a virtual call
  • Concerns for the need to improve were discussed along with an action plan to assist the employee
  • Employee became verbally aggressive
  • He threatened that he would come to the office and harm all the individuals who were on the call
  • He also stated that he would commit suicide
  • Employee said he had firearms
  • Individual was terminated

Challenges:

  • Police were contacted, and they spoke with the employee
  • No weapons were found at the employee’s home
  • Police were limited in what they can do
  • Individuals that were on the call expressed concerns for their safety at their homes

Action Taken:

  • Three employees were potential targets
  • Employee who issued the threats was put under surveillance
  • Surveillance was to act as an early warning
  • Address information for all parties was provided
  • Surveillance team was to advise the three employees if the disgruntled employee was within five blocks of their homes
  • Security was set up at each home
  • Security and surveillance teams remained in constant contact
  • Disgruntled employee drove to his manager’s neighbourhood
  • He parked and proceeded on foot towards the manager’s home
  • Manager was alerted, and police were called
  • No incident occurred
  • Employee returned to his vehicle and went home
  • Residential security ended after three days, as the threat level lowered
  • Surveillance remained in place for seven days
  • During the surveillance period, the disgruntled employee was seen in the gun and crossbow isle of a Sail store
  • Nothing was purchased

Learnings:

  • Human resources learned that they were not able to share the terminated employee’s personal information
  • Legal reviewed privacy concerns
  • Staff safety was of the utmost importance
  • Employees’ files were remotely accessed and found to be not accurate or up to date
  • Management further investigated the terminated employee’s past behaviour
  • There were a number of past incidents involving the disgruntled employee that had gone unreported

Conclusion:

The unreported incidents indicated that the employee was in distress and struggling prior to working from home. Although his past behaviour was not as serious, they should have been previously addressed. The union representative was also aware of some domestic issues outside the workplace. Co-workers also shared information about addiction concerns and disturbing social media posts.

Steps are now being taken to identify problematic behaviours in advance and ensure all employees feel secure reporting them.

The situation resolved itself without incident.
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