I had to. She was warned. Twice. Warned that the third time was the end.
Four years ago, we decided that we needed a full time translator. We had used a part time one but the work load was too heavy for her and she only wanted to spend four hours a day here, four days a week. So, we parted ways with Donna. Very congenially. She still brings her kids in occasionally to visit and let us know how things are with her.
So we hired Marisa. It felt wrong from day one. But, I was the only one who didn't fall under her friendly spell. Marisa was in her late twenties and this was her first job out of college. She had a degree in Spanish, which I found confusing as she grew up in a Spanish speaking family but said that she learned English when she went to grade school.
Maybe this sounds petty, but it seemed like sort of a lazy degree to get. I mean, she was fluent in Spanish and obtained a degree in Spanish? But, I let it go.
At her interview, I kept noticing this habit she had of picking her zits. She had a few. She would pick and then when she thought we weren't looking, observe her fingers for...what....pus? And then she would sort of roll whatever she had found into a ball and surreptitiously wipe it on her leg. This totally nauseated me but when I brought it up to my fellow interviewers, they gave me blank looks. Had not even noticed it. Maybe I am too well trained to observe all body language. I don't know....but it bugged me. I thought that if she would do that in a job interview, she would surely do it more freely after she was hired.
I was correct. She did. And yes, we all noticed, but no one thought that was reason to fire Marisa.
On the surface, Marisa seemed almost exuberantly friendly. She reminded me of Socks when he was a puppy, always jumping up for attention, seemingly never to be in a bad mood. Marisa was a talker and loved nothing more than to visit with anyone and everyone. I thought this might work in her favor since she WAS our interpreter. And she was SO excited to be working with me, a LESBIAN!!! her first lesbian friend. I almost told her that actually I was bi-sexual, but I just didn't want to share or burst her bubble of excitement, so I never did. She would come into my office to talk and pick up photos of Bing and me and say, "You two are so CUTE!" The few times that Bing came in to meet me for lunch or bring Liv to see me, I thought that Marisa might faint with sheer excitement. There we were: A LESBIAN couple with their offspring! How hip! How cool! How freaking CUTE!
A year passed. Little by little, we all began to dislike her. Except for one of our secretaries, a shy loner whom Marisa had brought out of her shell quite skillfully. I did admire her for that.
Marisa's job was pretty straight forward. We told her up front that her job was mainly a desk job, that a big part of it would be to translate medical records and documents from English to Spanish and vice versa. She would also be called upon to translate, in office, when one of us had a child to treat who only spoke Spanish. She was told that many of our children were in the foster care system and that their evaluations were court ordered. Occasionally, she would attend lectures and presentations that all of us took turns giving and that she would translate for any attendees who only spoke Spanish. She said that she understood and that she was so happy to be here, yada, yada, yada.
Well, after a few months, Marisa began to beg to go with whichever one of us was presenting at some conference, etc. even when we didn't need an interpreter. She loved outings. She was like a dog seeing his human put on a coat. Can I come!? Can I?! PLEASE!!!?? I'd tell her that no, I was speaking to a group of health and human service social workers and they all spoke English, so there was no need and besides, didn't she need to be here to translate all those medical records that needed to be sent to the state? She'd sulk like a tween, actually dragging her feet, hangdog, back to her desk, glaring balefully at me over her shoulder.
We were notified by the state that we were late in sending documents. We talked to Marisa. Told her how important it was to be timely. That if a document needed to be sent by December 1st, that meant December 1st, not the 21st. She would shrug and sigh as if we were telling her to get moving on that algebra homework.
She lied often and badly. She was married and had been raised by her grandmother. She told me that she had moved in with her grandmother when she was 12 because her mother made her stick to unfair curfews. (What's an unfair curfew at TWELVE years old???) She told a co-worker that she had moved in with her grandmother because her mother drank too much and that she had been taking care of her grandmother ever since, who was practically a cripple. Her grandmother stopped in one day and she was Joan Rivers' Hispanic twin, dripping in big fake jewelry and loudly dressing down a secretary for "having a gut on you." Not crippled. She told me that her husband was a mechanic. She told a secretary that he was a car salesman. Maybe he was both. She told me that her husband had no health insurance, but declined when I offered to have her husband put on her insurance with us. She told another co-worker that her husband had private insurance but that it was killing them financially. I have no idea where the actual truth was. But, it was unsettling.
She found out that I liked the show Walking Dead and started watching it because "If you watch it, it has to be smart because you are so dang smart, Maria!" And after that, she became my nightmare on the day after a Walking Dead segment. She would come into my office, plop down in a chair across from my desk and say, "Ok, let's dish DEAD, babeeee!"
I think I could have put up with all of this if she was a diligent worker. But, she wasn't. She could not sit in a chair for more than 20 minutes before jumping up to go find someone to talk to. And her work was shoddy and late. A lot. She once infuriated me when she sat in while I was doing an initial visit with a Spanish speaking child and his foster parent. That particular foster parent was a very unsavory person, anyone could see that. But, we must treat everyone professionally in my business. Instead, Marisa sat across from me and made comical faces at me, mocking this woman. I was horrified and told her so when they had left.
Marisa was bewildered. But that foster parent was SKANKY, surely I saw that? Yes, I told her, but we DO NOT make fun of people behind their backs. Every person who we see needs to be treated with professionalism.
I said, "This isn't a high school lunch table, Marisa. I don't want to see you do that again. Do you understand?"
She sulked for a week before she was back to her usual chummy self.
But, then things started getting darker. She went to a chiropractor who told her that she should file a Workers comp form because her back pain was due to sitting in a chair for too long. I informed her that she was told that this was a desk job from the get go and that she had not been observed sitting in her chair for more than 20 minutes at a time before popping up, so her job was hardly the culprit. I told her to go ahead with the form if she really felt it necessary, but that this office was prepared to fight back on it.
She dropped it. But a few weeks later, she didn't show up for work and didn't call in sick. I instructed the secretary in charge of payroll to please call Marisa at home and see if she forgot to call in sick, etc. The secretary came into my office and said that she had texted Marisa and that she had texted back that she was sick and to leave her the fuck alone. I immediately called Marisa and when she answered, I curtly informed her that in compliance with our office policy, she was to please call in sick when she was not coming into the office. She burst into tears and said, "I'm just stressed, please leave me alone!" I said that I hoped her day improved and said goodbye.
The next day, she came into my office and said that she had felt violated by the secretary who had called her and by me, for calling her at home. That she had had an argument with her husband and she didn't want to come in to work. She felt that we had treated her this way because she was Hispanic and "we brown girls always get picked on." She said that she was pondering talking to a lawyer about this. I told her to go right ahead, that the secretary had saved her texts and that I had saved our phone call. If she wanted to look like a fool in a courtroom, DO IT.
She immediately saw that I meant business, apologized and said that she was just so stressed! It took everything I had not to remind her that we ALL fight with our spouses and that one of our secretaries had a son who was in Afghanistan and our nurse had just found out that she had lupus, but we were all managing to deal with our lives and get ourselves to work. Instead, I asked her if I could be of assistance. She said that she was just so sick of her husband wanting her to party all the time. Couldn't he ever just stay home with her, why did he have to drag her to bars all the time?
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? THIS is why she couldn't come into work? Instead, I suggested that we take a look at her calendar and see if she had any personal days/vacation days/sick days that she could take.
Of course, she had none.
They were gone when she went on vacation for nearly a month with her husband to visit friends in L.A. several months ago.
My partners and I immediately contacted a lawyer that we keep on a retainer. We were advised to start documenting everything she did that was against office policy. And that we should immediately give her a warning when we had enough documented. And then a second warning. And then we needed to fire her, but to make VERY sure that we dotted all of our i's and crossed all of our t's. There should be no room for her to have anything on us to throw a lawsuit at us.
Marisa began strolling into the office at least a half hour late every morning. We're a pretty laid back office and no one cares if someone is late occasionally or needs to take a long lunch hour or leave early to pick up a sick child at daycare. But, she took things to the limit. She was constantly late, began taking two hour lunches daily and actually took to sneaking out our back door 45 minutes early each day.
There are two others who are my partners in our business. We all talked to her at one time or another. She always promised to do better. She never did. We documented.
She started wearing jeans to work daily. Fancy jeans, I will admit, with rhinestones on them. But, the day that she wore a tube top with jeans and high platform heels, one of my partners told her that this was unacceptable. She was expected to wear business attire to work.
Last month, she was given her last warning. She was told that this behavior had to stop or she would be fired. She pouted back that she was looking into another job anyway, that she felt unappreciated here.
She was telling the truth because I received a call from a local non-profit business. She had applied for a translator job. Could we talk about Marisa? I sighed. I wanted to lie. It would have been such an easy way to get rid of her. But, I couldn't do it. I told the truth.
So, yesterday, we gave her two weeks notice.
She, (as we predicted) flew into a rage and had a raging tantrum in our conference room. Said we were all a bunch of racist bitches who didn't appreciate her hard work. I sat very quietly and finally, working as hard as I could to keep my voice even and strong, informed her that her work was sloppy and inaccurate. That we had been cited by the state twice for lateness in document return. That she was habitually late, took two hour lunches and snuck out early on a regular basis. That she was lazy and had a bad work ethic and that none of this had anything to do with the color of her skin. And I told her that as of February 28th, she was out of a job with us. That we wished her well, but she was not going to be a part of our office anymore.
She actually stomped her foot at me and said, "You are such a high and mighty lesbo bitch. You think you are so special walking around in your Chanel suits and Jimmy Choo shoes. (I don't own Jimmy Choos...but maybe she meant Salvatore Ferragamo? Guilty.) I hope your ugly pretend wife cheats on you."
And she flounced out. Cleaned her desk out in ten minutes flat. Stole several pads of paper, a stapler and a box of pens with our logo on them.
But, she's gone.
So...if you are looking for a job? This post is pretty much what NOT to do.
Have any of you had to fire someone? Have you been fired? Tell.....