Should I warn another employer about an ex-employee?
October 3, 2008 6:22 AM   Subscribe

I had a seriously unpleasant experience with a former employee in the aftermath of his termination, and I have since learned that he is employed at a similar business in another city. Is it my place to warn them?

This person stole money (which led to his termination) and then after being fired, attempted to retaliate in various ways, including destruction of property. There is much more to the story but let it suffice to say that the person proved himself to be unquestionably a bad news character, perhaps even sociopathic. I do not, however, consider him a danger to anyone (at least in terms of a physical threat).

Upon learning that he was employed at a similar business elsewhere (he left town after all the aforementioned went down), it occurred to me that perhaps I should warn the relevant people at this other business. They hadn't called for a reference. I don't believe my motivation to be vindictive, but rather, for the reason that I would have appreciated such a warning from a credible source before hiring the person. Still, I can't decide if it's the right or wrong thing to do. What Would Metafilter Do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (24 answers total)
You have nothing to do with this guy anymore. It's none of your business where or what he's doing now.
posted by meerkatty at 6:24 AM on October 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

If it's just your word against theirs, as a manager, I would be very wary of your motives if you called me with this info. However, if there was a police report and charges filed, that might be a different story - particularly since they likely would have been asked to disclose any criminal record (felonies) when applying for the new position.
posted by HopperFan at 6:30 AM on October 3, 2008

No. Stay out of it.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:31 AM on October 3, 2008

No you shouldnt warn the other employer. It is none of your business.
posted by The1andonly at 6:31 AM on October 3, 2008

No. Even if they ask, you should say nothing.
posted by FergieBelle at 6:41 AM on October 3, 2008

As much as I can see why you're tempted to warn the other company, I think on balance it's easiest to stay out of it now and just remind yourself why you should ALWAYS ask previous employers for references.
posted by Hartster at 6:43 AM on October 3, 2008

If your unsolicited reference results in anything negative happening to him (firing, demotion, etc) you could be opening yourself up for a lawsuit. Do you want to take that chance?
posted by blue_beetle at 6:43 AM on October 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

Don't try to warn the other business. It's their concern now, and if they didn't do proper reference checks then they'll have to take the consequences.
posted by orange swan at 6:51 AM on October 3, 2008

If they ask, absolutely say something about it (why wouldn't you, sheesh? that's the point of them asking and that's the point of leaving a company amiably.)

But you should not tell them otherwise.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:59 AM on October 3, 2008

Voice of dissent: I can only ask three questions of you ...

1) Right now, do you wish the employer previous to you had warned you about this individual? Your problem today is someone else's problem yesterday. Would it have been nice if someone had done something about it way back when?

2) If a strange person had called you up and said that they were this person's previous boss, and warned you, would you have heeded said warning? Your warning may fall upon deaf ears.

3) If the answer to the first two is "yes," then can you find a way to warn the new employer anonymously?
posted by adipocere at 7:07 AM on October 3, 2008

I just want to add something else. Usually when I interview people I ask for business references. For business in which money is handled (such as like yours) those references are usually called. Going forward you should change your hiring process in order to include this....if you had done this then what happened to you wouldnt have happened....This is the same reason why you should not get involved with the other business....if they check their references they will eventually call you and let you know.

Also you may not be busy enough if you have time to call other businesses complaining (or warning) about someone you fired. I would take this extra time to concentrate in keeping my current employees happy rather than wondering about the well-being of other competitors this way you do not have a similar incident.
posted by The1andonly at 7:11 AM on October 3, 2008

Don't call them.
And frankly, even if they call you, be careful what you say. Don't say anything for which you don't have very good proof.
posted by inigo2 at 7:16 AM on October 3, 2008

Following up on inigo2's comment, this goes way beyond whether you feel nosy by talking. You could be opening up a legal can of worms by saying anything negative about this person. Talk to your HR dept and your firm's general counsel. This type of situation is exactly what you pay them for.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 7:26 AM on October 3, 2008

Forgot to add: If you're a manager at your firm, you may be obligated to go to HR/counsel FIRST about this type of situation. Doing anything else could put your company at risk, and they're kept on staff/retainer to mitigate your firm's legal risk. IANAL/IANYL.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 7:28 AM on October 3, 2008

This is a good way to get sued.
posted by smackfu at 7:32 AM on October 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

Yeah, bad juju, move on, stay out of it.
posted by mattoxic at 7:38 AM on October 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

If this man did things that were against the law, you should have called the police. That was your chance to narc on this guy. That window of opportunity is closed now.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:44 AM on October 3, 2008 [3 favorites]

Was this person charged with theft? Arrested? If not, then anything you say to the new employer is merely hearsay and can be potentially considered slander if it ever get back to the former employee that you are spreading such stories.

Depending on the state, even if the new employer calls you for references, the most you can say is whether or not you would ever re-hire the employee. Going into specific details opens you up to some major legal issues.

Stay the hell out of it.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:01 AM on October 3, 2008

Your HR department probably has a policy you'd be violating.
posted by Pants! at 8:27 AM on October 3, 2008

No, leave it alone.
posted by number9dream at 9:22 AM on October 3, 2008

You'd be exposing yourself to all sorts of liability. Keep it to yourself. Maybe they've changed? Maybe they found the lord and have decided to walk the correct path? Maybe their HR department are a bunch of idiots? Who knows. Not your problem.
posted by Ponderance at 9:32 AM on October 3, 2008

No. It's possible he's changed since the incident at your company, either on his own or with help. I'm not saying it's likely (although even that depends on just how long ago the incident was, which you don't say), but it's within the realm of possibility. If he has, there's no reason he should be haunted by his past misdeeds.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:37 AM on October 3, 2008

Lawsuit waiting to happen. You should have pressed charges then; if it was a substantial amount of money and there is good proof you probably still can. That is the only part of this where you have a real option.
posted by dhartung at 2:34 PM on October 3, 2008

Of course, if you want to go about it sideways sometimes, if you are ever going to do any kind of business with this other company, clear it with HR and then if you have to background checks on employees a that company so they can access your systems or whatever, make sure they know he has a police report. If he does. If he doesn't, that was a mistake.

If you really think he's a danger ranger, you could find out if the new company uses a background check and which one and see if his police report is in there - again, this only works if he has one.

Nice of you to feel responsible, though.

If I were you, I would not be able to help myself from keeping an ear to ground to find out if he as hired without mentioning your company, or with refs from your company.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 6:37 PM on October 3, 2008

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