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Work Tip: Don’t Offer Copious BJs Over E-mail to the Person Taking Your Shift

It’s not a joke, it’s one of the first HR problems I had to deal with as a manager.

I was working as a manager in a student-run computer lab of a major university. We worked closely with a mixed group of classified employees and student staff. Since there were shifts between students and things always came up, we had an automated way of students requesting for people to take their shifts.

We basically had them send out a request to the listserv to be distributed to all staff regarding when their shift was available and whatever reasons they were looking to get it filled. One day as I was about to leave at 5:30, I get an e-mail that says:

To: listserv
From: “Matt”
Subject: Shift available

Thursday 3/31
5:00pm — 9:00pm
Building C

Reason: I have a big lab I have to do. Copious BJs to the person who takes this shift.

I froze. I re-read. I froze again.


I call Matt and tell him to come to the office right now. I call my IT guy and the other managers to have them come in. In between that time, I get e-mails from three people on my staff that can’t believe what they read. One of them is going to file a complaint with the Human Rights Department.

Thank God I don’t work for a university anymore.

Whenever Matt comes in, he is completely unapologetic. Whenever I tell him he is going to get fired, he gets defiant and starts asking me to cite what policies he has broken. I told him we work for a university that has a zero tolerance policy on sexually harassing words. This isn’t one of those things I could overlook, it’s something that we had to take care of right now.

After he leaves, I tell our IT lead to kill his account but he was going to go home first and do it later that night. That’s when I realized the advantages of having all the ducks in a row and pulling the cord before it goes down.

Matt sent an e-mail out about 45 minutes after our conversation. Whenever I received it, I was thinking that it was just sent to me. It wouldn’t be the first time, no doubt about it.

Then I read the message and I noticed the “To:” field said it was sent to the listserv. I again was shocked to what I saw. A diatribe by Matt regarding how “the man” (not making this up) had brought him down and that our corporate culture was an enemy of human rights.

It was laughable stuff, especially in sharp contrast to the note he had sent out not two hours earlier (not to mention the fact that we worked for a university). What floored me was that the e-mail was even sent. I called the IT guy at home and did what I knew how to do best. I asked a question:

“So did you turn off Matt’s access?”

“Of course I did. Why?”

“Have you checked your e-mail?”

“No.” click click click “Oh crap!”

“Way to go, now will you turn it off?”


So ended my optimism when it came to people leaving an organization.

Thanks to Matt (and some new experiences) I now take much greater precautions and expect the worst of every single termination I am a part of. Most of them go well but I don’t bet on it any more.

Originally published at on June 12, 2006.

By Lance Haun

Strategy for The Starr Conspiracy. Former HR pro. Portland guy (Go Blazers!) and WSU alum (Go Cougs!). I get to write about what I want here.

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