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  • Writer's pictureMaddie Cohen

How to Deal with a Disgruntled Ex-Employee

Far too many employers have been there.


Most are in agreement: dealing with a disgruntled ex-employee is a difficult, stressful experience.


Here are some strategies for handling an erratic former team member:


  • Develop a plan.

One of the best ways to manage a disgruntled past employee is to have a clear protocol for this type of situation. The plan should outline the steps you will take to mitigate any negative behavior.


The goal here is to take action if needed. This means you’ll want to make sure your managers and any other key personnel are aware of the plan. You’ll also want to confirm they’re familiar with it and prepared to follow it if necessary.


  • Stay professional.

Chances are you no longer want to communicate with your ex-employee. If silence isn’t an option, it’s best to keep the conversation professional. Avoid reacting defensively or emotionally.


Listen to your former staff member’s concerns, and address them calmly and respectfully. Do not engage in arguments or confrontations, as this will only escalate the situation. Instead, make an effort to find some common ground and work toward a solution.

  • Maintain a safe workplace.

If a disgruntled former employee has made threats or shown signs of potentially harmful behavior, it’s important to take steps to maintain a safe workplace. Be proactive, and don’t just sit back and wait.


You may decide to change locks or security codes, install security cameras, or alert law enforcement of the disgruntled ex-employee. Above all else, plan to make sure all team members are aware of potential threats. Be proactive, and confirm your staff know what to do in an emergency.


  • Document everything.

Does your former team member seem volatile? Make sure to document any negative behavior. It doesn’t matter whether they lash out via email, by phone, or in person—keep a record of everything.


It’s crucial that you document any incidents that occur in the workplace. If your ex-employee causes damage or threatens other staff, call the police immediately. By that time, you should have plenty of evidence to take legal action. Remember to keep all documentation secure and accessible.


  • Seek legal advice.

If a disgruntled ex-employee is causing major disruption or making threats, it may be time to contact a lawyer. An employment attorney can help you handle the situation in a thorough, professional way.


While safety is a top priority, working with a lawyer can protect your business from potential legal action. Be sure to act quickly and seek legal advice as soon as possible. Waiting too long can make the situation worse and limit your options for resolving the issue.


We get it: dealing with a disgruntled ex-employee can be challenging for any employer. By implementing a plan and seeking help when needed, you can keep the situation from getting out of control.


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