Wendywoman on Firing an Employee…

Inquiry from a reporter:

Do you have any horror stories about firing an employee?

Every once in a while, terminated employees are like a boomerang – they come back and hit you.  Several years ago, I got a call from a local company to tell me that my assistant was using my corporate American Express card to rack up charges.  For weeks, the company insisted on talking to me, and she continued to give them her phone number and impersonate me so she could keep on spending.  When they finally tracked me down and gave me the details, I called my boss to advise him of what had transpired.    He had me immediately escort her out of the building and type up a report for the human resources department so they could begin a formal investigation. While I was busy doing a complete audit of my expense reports (which she processed) as well as hers, she went home and typed up a 7 page letter accusing me of squeezing her arm and bruising her while I walked her out of the building and to her car amongst other crazy accusations.  Interestingly enough, despite the fact that over the prior 6 months she had managed to spend close to $6,000 in unauthorized charges, the investigation quickly shifted from her to me.  I found myself in the middle of an internal audit investigation, which is no picnic!  While I was completely exonerated of any wrongdoing, it was not without a lot of pain for my family and me.  She was finally terminated, but not before she attempted to extort money from me and continually left threatening messages on my voicemail.  Turns out she had multiple aliases, a criminal record which included jail time for armed robbery with a gun and I finally had to go to the police to put an end to her harassment.  In the span of one week, I managed to go to hell and back.    While the story had a happy ending, it is frightening to think about how one disgruntled employee could have derailed my career.