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Mon, Apr. 4th, 2005, 10:50 am
Moral Dilemma?

So, I have a Situation.

There's this guy I know. I call him a guy only out of kindness, as he barely deserves to be called a human being. He is incredibly selfish, a liar, a cheater, and someone who likes to take advantage of people who are not in a situation to resist. I hate very few people in this world, but this guy is one of them. He never did anything particularly wrong to me, but I was a witness to a great deal of abuse that he heaped on my less-vocal co-workers until I blew the whistle and got him fired.

Now he's hiring for his new company, and using an email list I frequent to do it. Should I warn people about this guy? Should I assume he's mellowed somewhat in five years? Should I get in touch only with the people I already know and make sure they don't touch him with a ten foot pole? I would never want someone to be in the situation I was in, especially without recourse to anything but quitting should this guy still be, frankly, evil.

Okay, I'm done now. Did I mention I despise this man?

Mon, Apr. 4th, 2005 03:15 pm (UTC)

Yick, that's tough...definately tell the people you know already about him.

The problem with telling the whole list is that he could get on your case for libel or defemation of character. (He seems to be enough of an asshat that he'd play that card, too.) If there's a way to tell the list without him seeing, go for it. If not...tell your friends, and ask them to tell their friends, and so on. Beneath him it shall devour and such.

Mon, Apr. 4th, 2005 03:17 pm (UTC)

hm. that’s a sticky question.

first off, at the very least i would recommend contacting the people you already know offline and letting them know about your experience. that’s private communication, and there shouldn’t be any issue there; i would say you’re almost obliged to do at least that.

as for posting something to the list… i can see pros and cons. first off, do you know of anyone else who would be willing to corroborate your statements? is there anyone else on the list who worked with you and him at the old place? if it’s not just you speaking up, it makes it look a lot less like a personal vendetta and a lot more like a “valid complaint” (whatever that means). if you can get in touch with anyone who can back you up, contact them ahead of time and ask them to post to the list shortly after they see your message.

also - how much of a reputation do you have on this list? do most people recognize your name, or are you a lurker? the more of a public rep you have, the more weight your word is likely to carry.

be aware that depending on what you say on-list, the guy may respond. difficult as it may be, you’ll need to make it clear in your original posting that you have the moral high ground, which means, well, not saying mean things about the guy, and maintaining as clinical a tone as you can manage. be specific about dates and times, e.g. “I worked with Individual X from Date Y to Date Z. During this period of time, he repeatedly exhibited Behaviors A, B, and C. He was eventually terminated by Manager M with cause. As such, I would recommend that others exercise caution before entering into a working relationship with X and that anyone considering such a relationship communicate with X’s superiors concerning these issues.”

if he’s a real asshole, be prepared for him to call you a liar, to impugn any aspect of your character or personality, and so on and so forth. the more restrained and professional you are in your statements, the worse he looks if he gets ugly. if he sends you a nasty email in private, then you’ve really hit the jackpot; post it to the list and let it speak for itself.

in conclusion; i figure you should be able to warn individuals offline without it causing a massive headache. if you do decide to make a public statement, there are ways in which you can do it that put you in a strong position from the start and can minimize grief for you.

good luck!


Mon, Apr. 4th, 2005 03:18 pm (UTC)

Dude, what the man said. :-)

Mon, Apr. 4th, 2005 05:43 pm (UTC)

"He was eventually terminated by Manager M with cause."

Saying this about a past employeeto a prospective employer can get you sued successfully even if it is 100% factually correct. For this reason, many employers will only verify dates of employment and refuse to say anything else good or bad.

This situation is not exactly the same, but I would tread carefully.

Mon, Apr. 4th, 2005 05:03 pm (UTC)

Nuke him till he glows and then shoot him in the dark.

I'd encourage you to make a public statement because I know what an ass-hat this guy is, and in more than just professional ways. I think you need to say something.

Rather than being specific, I would be vauge. I would say that, for reasons of profesional courtisy, you don't want to get in to specifics, but that you and others have had a bad experience with him. If he responds to you I would just ignore him, no matter what he says.


Mon, Apr. 4th, 2005 05:40 pm (UTC)

To be honest, I would probably let it lie. What you absolutely do not want to do is say something that might be actionable. Asshats love to run to their lawyers, and in a legal environment where someone can be successfully sued for giving a negative and completely factual recommendation of a former employee, it is not much of a stretch to make the same argument from the employer side.

It does you credit that you want to reveal a bad apple for what he is, but I recommend keeping any comments you make private rather than public.

Mon, Apr. 4th, 2005 05:46 pm (UTC)

Oh, and one more thing. If things he has done in the past are potentially actionable, keep records. That way if you hear about him up to old tricks again with someone else, you can join forces to nail his ass to the wall.

Mon, Apr. 4th, 2005 06:37 pm (UTC)

I'd post a long comment here but all I could ever say on the issue has been said.. Now, that *Said* ;) I will say this... :)

You are a good person, in fact you are a great person and your compassion for others shows. Warn/Inform those you know and try and help those you don't. Hopefully they will listen and avoid a similar experience then the one you faced and now have to warn against. But no matter what happens, know you did the right thing...


Mon, Apr. 4th, 2005 09:16 pm (UTC)

I concur with theczech. Saying bad things about him puts the onus on you, and the legal action against you can really ruin your day. While revealing him for the jerk he is certainly the right thing to do, consider treading carefully.

Mon, Apr. 4th, 2005 09:42 pm (UTC)

Thanks for all the advice, folks! I think that I'm going to post on the list that I (and others - I'll see whether I can get permission to name names) have had very bad experiences working with this guy, and to email me offlist for details. That way I'm not saying anything bad about him publicly (except that I've had a bad experience - carefully keeping it about my own feelings so he can't sue or something) but people will still, hopefully, get the message.

Does that sound like a reasonable compromise?

Mon, Apr. 4th, 2005 10:13 pm (UTC)

Perhaps, rather than saying you have had a "bad" experience with him, you should simply state that you have worked with him professionally before, and would like very much to share your experiences with those who are considering his offer of employment so that they can make a more informed decision.

That way you are not setting yourself up explictly as a source of negativity. Anyone who reads it can probably infer the sort of "experiences" that would make you go to the length of posting thus, but since there is nothing that actually says you're going to put him down, he can't come in with lawyers blazin'.

Still, be prepared for a trollish repsonse from him, as I'm sure he'll figure out that you're not going to be giving him a rosy reference. Regardless, this way people are only coming to you of their own free will, and you are not stating outright that your review of him is going to be negative, so there shouldn't be anything he can do.

Mon, Apr. 4th, 2005 10:55 pm (UTC)

Oh, that's brilliant. Me likey.