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4 tips for responding to employee rants and raves

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in Centerpiece,Firing,Human Resources

unruly employeeDisciplinary and termination meetings are emotionally charged events that carry the potential for nasty words, hurt feelings and even legal troubles. Be prepared for employees who “let it all out” in long, loud rants, complete with screaming, insults and threats.

Follow these four do’s and don’ts to defuse rants and avoid lawsuits:

DO listen. Don’t interrupt or try to silence the employee—that can strip away the person’s dignity. Fired employees who don’t feel they were heard or who feel a loss of dignity are more likely to file lawsuits.

DO document the rant. Have a witness (another HR rep or a manager) in any meeting that could turn confrontational. Then, take notes right after. Make a written record of any insulting words, facial expressions, hand gestures, mood, voice volume and tone. Contemporaneous notes will help your defense if the employee later sues.

DON’T ignore complaints that could lead to lawsuits. For example, somewhere in the middle of her tirade, the employee says: “My supervisor is a sexist pig,” and then she continues yelling about something else. A court could say the comment served as official “notice” of potential sexual harassment and, therefore, the organization must investigate. Prepare to look into any allegations.

DON’T tolerate threats. If the employee becomes verbally abusive or even hints at physical violence, leave the room and call for help to escort the person off the premises. Write down exactly what happened and how it made you feel, especially if words or deeds made you fearful.

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