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Firing employees isn’t easy, regardless of the circumstances. But what happens when an employee is underperforming for valid reasons? Here’s a story of a boss who does the unthinkable to an employee under stress.

An Unsympathetic Boss

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The original poster (OP), Will is a VP of sales at a software company. He started working with Alex earlier in the year.

Alex was a great employee and was up for promotion despite having worked for Will for less than a year.

Here’s when things took a twist.

Employee Receives Shocking Message // Shutterstock

Alex was a high performer at work, and his role had high expectations. Despite only being 22, Alex excelled in his role and made close to a six-figure salary.

However, things took a turn when Alex lost his parents in a tragic car accident.

Grief in the Workplace


Shortly after the incident, Will allowed Alex to take a month of paid leave. Will had genuine intentions to allow his employee time to grieve.

The problem occurred after Alex returned to work. He was unmotivated, and his performance tanked.

“He’s super unmotivated, not cold calling.”

The Difficulty of Balancing Compassion and Business Needs

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Will wasn’t the only one who took notice; the whole management team did.

The management team and Will came together and concluded Alex’s fate.

Employee Rights

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After giving Alex’s situation some thought, the team knew they had to have a meeting with him.

It was a beautiful Friday afternoon, and Will asked Alex to join him and his management team for a brief meeting.

Most people dislike having meetings on a Friday, but this was worse than an average Friday meeting.

How Companies Should Handle Employee Grief

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Will and his management team told Alex that they’d decided it was best to let him go.

They reasoned that he would need months to get back on track, and the team couldn’t wait that long.

“We decided to let him go because we feel like he’d need months and months to be able to produce again and we can’t just wait that long.”

Alex was upset, to say the least. He got up, made some rude remarks, and left the room.

What People Really About Firing Someone

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“YTA for firing him without first going through the steps of describing his issues to him and giving him a chance to improve. He’s been back for only 2-3 weeks.”

Ideally, the management team should have given Alex more time to adjust rather than letting him go.

Bad Business

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“Honestly. Not even a single correct and counsel meeting? That’s just bad business.”

“It’s also wildly unrealistic in today’s business climate. No HR department would green light such a decision and take the risk of incurring some kind of legal action that costs the company many times what he makes in a year.”

It’s always good to let an employee know there’s a problem before you fire them for it.

No Warning Messages

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“Generally people receive a warning about their performance before they get fired. You gave him bereavement leave and then fired him immediately after because he wasn’t performing.”

Finding the balance between compassion and good business practices can be tricky, but these people think Will went too far.

Consequences for the Boss

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Managing people isn’t easy. Throw employees’ personal issues into the mix, and things can get ugly fast.

What happened to Alex is unfortunate. We can only hope he found a better alternative and healed from his major loss.



Chris founded FWO, the ultimate destination for those looking to achieve financial independence, explore the world and stay motivated daily.

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