For background, I own and manage a large scale gaming community (Minecraft) where we are a registered company, though the company registration part doesn't matter too much. One of our employees who I agreed to give 25% royalty to a gamemode he develops frequently makes malicious remarks whenever we are having casual conversation, and would make them in a jokingly manner.

Let's call this person Jeff. Jeff would sometimes make joking remarks about wanting to leave backdoors in other companies he's actively working for, or talk about how far he'd go to ruin someone's personal life if they were to ever screw him over etc.

I'm not exactly sure why he's making these remarks directly to me, especially given I am his employer. However, because we are friends I pretend to laugh along with his remarks. From a business perspective, something like this is seriously concerning and given the kind of malicious remarks he's making, and makes me wonder if he contemplates doing the same thing to us. Jeff tells me he is only joking when he makes these remarks, however it indeed uncovers what kind of person he may be.

Removing this individual is easier said than done, due to the whole royalty and licensing agreement. There could potentially be other serious events that unfold, such as backdoors I have mentioned. I should note this person considers me a close friend, but I cannot see how that is the case when the code we are running on also has backdoors which he claims serves as protection incase I were to "screw him over" etc.

  • Hey David, welcome to The Workplace :) would you mind making it clearer what your goal here is? Currently the question you ask is if "this is bad", and that may be closed as opinion-based. Mind rephrasing your post to include a question that we can answer?
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 22:15
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    That being said, here is a related question I asked that may help you get some insight to this situation: Dealing with “tolerable” jokes on critical moments
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 22:16
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    Yes it is bad the an employee makes malicious jokes.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 22:39
  • You are in a better position than we are to judge what Jeff may or may not be capable of, as well as what you want the company culture to look like. Not being able to trust someone is usually a very bad sign. Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 23:19
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    Are you saying you know for a fact that he's already placed these backdoors in the code or did you mean you don't see how he could consider yourselves friends if he did this: when the code we are running on also has backdoors which he claims serves as protection incase I were to "screw him over" etc.
    – BSMP
    Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 4:50

3 Answers 3


This Jeff sounds like a sociopath and a potential threat to your business. Even if he doesn't have the capacity to backdoor (gain access to a computer through stealth means) or ruin people's lives, that's serious enough to sit him down and say, "That's not funny and it's not a joke." That may be just enough for him to stop.

Otherwise, I would keep track with progressive discipline (verbal > written > final warnings), documenting everything, and then I would send Jeff packing, like Ben Mz suggested. The people who would say those kinds of jokes and then say "I'm only kidding" are not worth the risk to keep employed.

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    Moreover, if the backdoors he talks about are actually there, this is less a joking matter and more of a serious issue.
    – Liquid
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 22:57
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    Small change: Instead of "Your jokes may be taken seriously..." I'd say "It's not a joke. What you say may be taken seriously..."
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 11:10

If you worry about whether you can trust him, then get rid of him.

If you worry that he will be a bad example for other employees, then get rid of him.

If he makes you or others unhappy or uncomfortable at work, then get rid of him.

If you worry that he is hard to get rid of, then get rid of him because he will only become more entrenched over time.


He's joking (maybe)

So check, if he's leaving backdoors in software you own, find out, and get rid of him.

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