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Employee Terminations: Lessons Learned From Ceridian Canada Stabbings

In April 2014, Ceridian Canada in Toronto exercised its right to terminate employee, Chaung Li. By all accounts, the Human Resource Professionals present during the termination were experienced in conducting employee terminations and are believed to have handled the situation in a scripted manner without finger pointing or attempts at demeaning Mr. Li. Something went seriously wrong during the meeting and no one could have predicted the outcome; the stabbing of four Ceridian employees by Chaung Li.

The events as they unfolded at Ceridian Canada highlight the risk to which employees are exposed during an employee termination meeting and prompted many companies to review protocols and policies regarding terminations. A revitalized focus on the implementation of violence prevention programs and employee assistance programs (EAP), procedures that improve the physical security of HR and other company personnel, and policy revisions that address concerns beyond the day of termination are some of the actions taken as a direct result of lessons learned from the Ceridian Canada stabbings.

Although human behaviour has some degree of predictability in its unpredictability, there is the requirement that adequate information be at hand. In an employer/employee relationship much of the required information is often missing and there is just no way of knowing which employee has the potential for violence. The safest course of action for employers is premised on the lessons learned:

  1. No employee termination is routine.
  2. Prepare as if every terminated employee has the potential for violence.

While this may seem extreme or paranoid to some, the alternative is to risk a situation akin to that of the magnitude and horror experienced by the employees attacked by Chaung Li.