Wednesday, July 13, 2005

A strange coincidence, and coming out in the open

Huh, I started thinking about this earlier today and I realized, I wrote this letter to Kim DuToit a year ago almost to the day:

I was just fired a few minutes ago. Officially I was “terminated without cause”, and that for future employment inquiries they will report that I “decided to leave”. Unofficially I learned that the decision had been made by “senior management” to fire me about three months ago, but that they had kept me on to finish up my projects.

Coincidentally, about three months ago I was at a social function with my boss’s boss when he took me aside and said to me “Is that a gun?”—I was, as usual, carrying my Kahr K9, and he had seen the gun under my shirt—“Would you mind taking that out to your car? I really don’t like guns and I don’t think it’s appropriate for you to have one here”.

I said “Sure, no problem, but let me just say this...”, then I explained to him that I was carrying a weapon legally, that I never carried while at work or with clients, that this was not a work function, but that even if it was the company had no firearms policy which they should if they want to restrict gun possession around the company. I told him that I always carried outside of work when it was legal for me to do so, but that I had no problem taking my gun back to the car if it made him more comfortable.

The next week a new supplement was issued to our employee handbook that prohibited possession of all firearms at company facilities, offices, events, functions, company-related functions or events, company-sponsored functions or events, or any organized gathering of employees, clients, customer business partners or vendors.

It also made very clear that any violation of this policy would result in immediate termination.

Well when I received this I politely refused to sign it as it violated several state and Federal laws (right to privacy, right to freely associate etc...). I told my boss this, and the head of HR, and I suggested what needed to be changed to be legal. I also informed them that pursuant to state law if they wanted to ban firearms from the building they had to post a sign at all entrances saying such. All of this was offered to be helpful, not in any way adversarial. I have no problem complying with a company policy as long as it’s legal. The policy had apparently been dashed off boilerplate and hadn’t been vetted by the lawyers. They issued a new policy the next week which was worded differently and didn’t try and restrict out-of-work functions as much, but was still pretty restrictive. Unfortunately I can’t share it with you due to a non-disclosure agreement, but even with the new language I doubt if it would stand up in court, but I just didn’t want to fight it any more. They still haven’t put up the signs.

A few days later my boss told me on the sly that his boss was looking for a reason to fire me. He also let me know that his boss was going to make him give me a poor performance review; his quote “I hate to do this, but there’s nothing I can do, and you need to start watching your back a bit more”. Finally I was reprimanded for my “unprofessional behavior” in carrying a gun around my co-workers.

Please don’t misunderstand me, my boss is great. He’s been behind me 100%, very supportive, and really one of the best bosses I’ve ever had, but when the Number Two guy in the company decides you have to go, that’s just the way it is.

So anyway a few weeks ago my major project ended, but I was already booked in on two more projects. Well let me just say I aced them. The sales guys for both projects, and the customers raved. My boss gave me some really positive feedback and we talked about the great opportunities I had just created with the two previously very difficult clients. Then he told me that he had to give me an official warning for poor performance because I had been lax in some of my paperwork, and that I had taken too much comp time for all of the uncompensated mandatory overtime I was doing. We talked about how this was going to affect my bonus, and what we could do to improve things in the future.

That was a week ago. Today at 3pm we reviewed the projects again in preparation for wrap-up meetings. Again I got some great feedback on my performance and for creating these great new opportunities, and then my boss’s boss came in and said “I’m sorry, we’re going to have to let you go”.

He in fact wanted to have me escorted off the premises immediately. He actually looked frightened of me and left the room quickly. My boss said he would stay with me while I copied my personal files and cleaned out my stuff. We talked for a good hour about what had happened. He confessed to me, again off the record, unofficial etc… that his boss has been afraid of me for months, and when the decision had been made etc… He said that his boss was honestly afraid I would pull out a gun and shoot him.

At this point I was understandably not happy, but I was pretty calm. My boss apologized for the bullshit, and said that he felt like he had let me down.

So basically I was fired for being a gun enthusiast employed by a GFW.

I think I’ll be spending a lot of time at the range this weekend.
That was on July 15th 2004; now one year later, if not to the day, to the week... Weird huh. At the time I asked Kim not to reveal who I was, but I feel fine in coming forward now to say it was me.

That is twice I was fired for my political views and actions in 12 months.