Ethics | 'HR fired for only caring about results'

    'HR fired for only caring about results'

    In any company, HR are often seen as the mediators.

    Part of their role is getting to the root cause of any office conflict and nipping it in the bud before it escalates, dealing with performance-related issues and disciplining employees for communicating with colleagues in a disrespectful manner. While these are common issues within HR’s remit, employees may be surprised to see HR failing to practice what they preach.

    However, a LinkedIn post asked users whether an employee – particularly someone from HR – should be fired for calling a colleague ‘stupid’. It quickly went viral and attracted a lot of attention from interested HR practitioners.

    To add context to the series of events, the LinkedIn user started off the post by saying: “We fired our HR for calling a member of our team ‘stupid’.

    “I was walking through the offices when I heard someone talking angrily. Then I heard, ‘Your performances have dropped, and you have no reasonable explanation for that.’ I walked in and saw our secretary crying.

    “I asked what was going on and the HR said she'd been poor at work lately for some stupid reasons. I looked at the Secretary; her eyes were red. Our HR had threatened to get her fired.

    “This was a woman who just lost her husband a few months ago. Our HR expected her to deliver at the same level. That's inhumane. I thought within. I invited both of them into the office with my partner to investigate further. The Secretary had been finding it hard to get over the shock of her husband’s demise. But our HR was only concerned about results."

    "Further enquiries showed she had been rude to other team members. We fired her."

    “We don't want to work with people who have no respect for others welfare. We reduced our Secretary hours at work and ask her if she needs more time off. Her performances improved significantly, and she came back to her best.

    “If you don't understand that business is more about people, then you have no business leading them.

    “Workers' welfare comes first. Everything else follows after.” (sic)

    Was firing the right decision?

    While some agreed with the employer’s decision to give the employee the boot, one LinkedIn user explained that giving them a second chance should have been their first resort – with firing being the last. They continued: “If the HR has been doing this for a long time and it is only now you are figuring this out then maybe there is an issue in the communication and reporting of a problem in the workplace (sic).

    “Maybe the HR needed some mentoring this why coaching and mentoring is important in the workplace. Would like to hear the other side of the story though, just my thoughts.”

    Another user added: “Best message I have seen on LinkedIn all day. No HR member or anyone should be dehumanising someone for being human. It is unfortunate that the HR representative couldn't see her frustration with the secretary was coming from her own self inability to help solve problems for her team and motivate.

    “It doesn't make others a failure when we fail to inspire it just means we need to work harder on ourselves to others can see the value in how we lead and why they should want to follow.”

    However, one LinkedIn user was adamant that this decision was ‘right on’. They added: “Treat others as YOU would want to be treated. Not much of that going around these days.”

    Can an employee be fired for name-calling?

    According to, calling someone ‘stupid’ may be belittling, but in many respects it is not considered illegal. However, it would constitute as discrimination if the verbal abuse occured because of a protected characteristic under the 2010 Equality Act.

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    Comments (2)

    • Mike Butler
      Mike Butler
      Wed, 7 Aug 2019 1:30pm BST
      This another example of HR going beyond its remit. Too many in HR believe it is their job to drive results. Except within their own department, it is not. The role of HR is to support the management team deliver the right results and ensure the right training and development is in place to enable this. If a person is not performing to meet their objectives, it is up to line managers to find out and understand why not and take the right action. They should be the ones who know the ins and outs of their team, anything that is going on in their lives that might impact on work and take from there. Calling people stupid tends not to elicit the desired results, especially from someone in HR who really should know better.
    • Boris
      Wed, 7 Aug 2019 1:18pm BST
      While it's always a good idea to get both sides of a story in this instance where HR are actually doing something which could be considered bullying I don't think the employer made the wrong choice. What people have to remember is that employees talk to each other and if they feel that they can't speak to HR they simply won't. This can cause issues to escalate and become even worse, so in this instance it's nice to hear of an employer who's really interested in their staff and are willing to stand up for them. If only more employers were like this.

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