What to do when an ex-employee harasses your business

Letting employees go can be a difficult and emotional experience, and it’s normal for people to be upset. What happens, though, when a former employee starts bad-mouthing your business online, calling your office repeatedly, or even showing up in person to cause issues?

When an ex-employee is upset and making it known, it’s hard to know what to do without making it worse. Luckily, we have a few guidelines to follow when dealing with an unhappy former employee.

Reach out

With the rise of social media, upset ex-employees can slander your company or business online. Apart from the usual social media platforms, sites such as Glassdoor or Yelp provide an open outlet for people who are upset to detail their version of events with an audience. In this case, the best thing you can do is try to reach out to the person privately to see if the situation can be resolved.

No matter the behavior of your former employees, though, you should remain professional while representing your company. Reacting with anger can get you in even deeper trouble, and can exacerbate the situation. Stay calm and level headed.

Let it go

If a former employee is unwilling to make peace, resolve yourself to let the issue go. Hateful words on the Internet are just that, words, and most people know that not everything written online is true. Claiming defamation against a former employee who is spreading negative information about your company oftentimes brings more attention to the issue and makes you seem like you have something to hide. A former employee posting harsh words online will eventually run its course.

Keep your current employees safe

“Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you,” goes the old adage. But a former employee who takes physical action can put your employees in danger. Report any threats made by the ex-employee, and contact the proper authorities if a visibly angry former employee shows up at your company or business. The drama of a physical altercation can be distracting and unsightly, so try to absolve the issue quickly and quietly. Anger manifests itself in many forms, and it’s important to protect your employees from harm.

Document everything

In case of either party moving towards legal action, document everything to protect yourself and your company. Even before you terminate an employee, make it a habit to document warnings and discussions beforehand. Keep track of any negative interactions after a termination as well. Before taking legal action, try to work directly with the ex-employee or with authorities to try and remediate the issue.


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