A few years ago, I was fired by Mr. Visibility, the boss of the X company. It's hard to explain why, but I believe it occurs because of the differences of philosophy.

One year later, Mr. Visibility has gone too, I believe he had arguments with other collaborators and a courageous associate put him out (don't know what happens exactly).

For one year now, I work again for X company (only because Mr. Visibility has gone). X company has become a very horizontal one, with no management at all. Things are ok. I am about to "invest in the company", I mean, it's going to switch to the Scop status - A Scop (société cooperative et participative) is a cooperative enterprise in which the employees hold the majority of the company’s share capital.

So as soon as this new status will be granted, I will be involved on everything, including hiring new people. Now Mr. Visibility contacted us to ask if he could come back and work with us again in a position that he is qualified for and is currently open. It's interesting to know that he is also still involved in the company capital as a historic founder, but because of the new status, he would not have more rights to decide than any other employee. One cooperator, one vote.

While I am not a manager, the business management is to be done collaboratively.

Honestly, I don't want him back, retrospectively this guy stresses everybody and has a negative karma (don't know who to explain it, too much conflicts over the guy, always arguing privately with different people). And if this person were still here I would not have come back to the company.

As the guy fired me, although I asked for a contractual termination because our relationship was disrespectful and unprofessional 3 years ago, I am pretty angry, even if I can control myself now. I don't really care about professional conventions but don't want to do stupid things either.

Because of his previous success and what I believe are business abilities to achieve some of the goals for this position I do not want to discount him purely on the basis of my personal opinion.

So how can I properly make a decision about rehiring? What should I be considering?

Note : as some of you notice, my mother language is not English. I'm sorry for not being better but I do my best. Feel free to edit the question if I make mistakes that said my past boss is a WW2 super-villain, that's not what I mean.

Note about "violence" : No blood, no physical fighting. It was verbal or psychological abuse that has been deeply felt by different persons from daily very unpleasant stress to very serious depressions. I am used to call it "violence" or "harassment", this kind of guy call it "management". In my own experience, this soft violence happened until I loose control, and I committed some faults that justified a firing.

  • Thanks for the edits, smonff. I've reopened for answers. However, the community may still continue to tweak this or ultimately decide it's not quite a good fit. So I suggest being open to more feedback, if needed. Good luck and hope this helps! – jmort253 Jun 22 '14 at 22:12
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    I don't understand the question. If you dislike him so much why are you even considering 'voting' for his return? – jcm Jun 22 '14 at 22:52
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    I can not imagine a situation where I would choose to collaborate with a former employer who was disrespectful to me. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jun 23 '14 at 2:25
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    Why would you even consider working with somebody like you describe. My advice before the vote even happens bring up your history with this person. Its likely he was toxic to other people as well. – Donald Jun 23 '14 at 11:01
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    You may also want to mention to the oters making the decision that you absolutely do not want to work with this person under any circumstances, and if he is hired you may need to find another job. This information is important to the others in your group, because it makes it more than just a "hire/no-hire" question. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Jun 24 '14 at 16:26

It's your vote - do what you want with it.

It sounds to me like this person fails the basic test of "would you want to work with him again?" which is a fine reason to vote "no". If there's a public/community discussion of candidates, it's also fair to bring up your past experience with him, particularly the facts of what happened and why it was problem.

It's also fair to speak with those who hired you privately and say "look, I came back because this guy wasn't working here anymore. If this guy returns to my workplace, I may feel forced to look for other work." It sounds like the relationship was bad enough that this is how you feel - the description you give makes it sound like you can't be happy in a work place he's in.

Lastly, you've mentioned "violent" several times, but from the description, I can't tell what the physical interaction level was, so I can't tell whether this was verbal abuse, or physical violence. Neither one is OK, but realize that "violent" is a term that will make people wonder if he hit you, or otherwise physically assaulted you. If this is the case, bring it up both with the current head of the company and anyone responsible for legal/HR issues - having a person who's demonstrated physical violence in the workplace is never OK.

If it was more that it was verbal absuse or "violent dislike" - watch this word. If the verbal abuse is direct and easy to prove, the work violence is fine, but claiming violence can be associated strongly enough with physical harm, that it can sound overdramatic. It's all in the eye of the beholder.

  • I try to do my best to use a decent English. Physical violence never happens. It was verbal or psychological abuse that has been deeply felt by different persons from daily very unpleasant stress to serious depression and daily tragic situations. I am used to call it "violence" or "harassment", sadly, this kind of guy call it "management". And I'm sure he is persuaded to be a kind and good person, maybe don't even realize he can break people. In my experience, this kind of soft violence happens until I loose control, and I committed some faults that justified a firing. – xrb3 Jun 23 '14 at 13:57

A "horizontal" organization usually ends up being an organization where the lack of an official hierarchy means that there is no recourse when someone higher up in the inofficial hierarchy is causing problems.

Given this, I'd think at least twice before voting to bring in someone who's both proven to be bad at cooperation and communication, and who will also have an immediate status boost due to his status as a founder.


The only conclusion to come to on the information you give is:
absolutely do not vote to rehire him.

People who cause stress and hassle for lots of other employees are demoralising all round.

If everyone treats staff well it becomes a great place to work and everyone contributes cheerfully. Conversely, if staff are given a bad time and there's unpleasantness, even if it's just with some of the staff, you lose talent; the good people who can get a job anywhere see what's going on and leave for somewhere more fun to work, so you're left with the staff who can't get another job.

Hire someone who has a positive attitude instead. It's much harder to get rid of a problem person than it is to fail to hire them, so the company will save itself a lot of trouble by leaving him out.

Your vote won't be the deciding factor by the sound of it, and the people at the company need to know there is some dissent anyway.

Depending on your jurisdiction, it might not be legal to hire him without properly advertising the vacancy - someone with a responsibility for HR needs to check. Going through the process of advertising and interviewing candidates is healthy anyway. If you have sway over the job description or person specification, you should add clauses about being supportive of colleagues and having a positive attitude.

(We have a member of staff, Z, we gained from a merger who is absolute poison, profoundly upsetting staff repeatedly. Z is always initially very friendly and positive but then turns on people, being extremely critical, sometimes personally so. Z has been moved around time and time again following problems with each team worked with. If we could have failed to acquire Z that would have been so much better.)

  • Not a very cooperative answer though should not Mr Viability get a second chance? – Pepone Jun 23 '14 at 11:43
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    @pepone, it is bad for the cooperative to give this person a second chance. He is violent and angry, that is toxic in a workplace. – HLGEM Jun 23 '14 at 13:13
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    He is the one who will have to work with him, if he feels the other person behaved vilently then he should honor his own feelings and vote not to twork with such a person again. – HLGEM Jun 23 '14 at 13:20
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    @Pepone When we hire we have to choose one person from perhaps 25. We have to turn down 24 people and choose the best one person. It makes no sense to always use your vote as yes on the grounds that that's more cooperative. – AndrewC Jun 23 '14 at 15:07
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    @Pepone The cooperative will be a much more cooperative place if you don't hire bullies. I don't know why you assume Mr Visibility will have reformed, and I don't know why you would want to risk the cooperative by finding out the hard way. Advertise. Pick the best person. Use your knowledge of this person to place him in the list of candidates. It's important to use your vote to get good people, not to randomly rehire unpleasant ones. That's not uncooperative, it's insisting on mutual respect and cooperation. – AndrewC Jun 23 '14 at 15:13

It looks like you are the forgiving type. If you weren't, you wouldn't be asking us whether you should vote to rehire him.

Perhaps, basing your vote on other considerations should help you make up your mind. Is his coming back to the firm actually good for the firm? Will you be able to work on critical projects with him, knowing both yourself and him the way you do? Will he be good for the firm in the sense that he will treat everyone INCLUDING YOU fairly? From his past interactions with other employees, do you believe the the firm will work as an integrated, smoothly functional unit, or will the place be turned into a bedlam? I think, if you work out the answers to these questions, which way to vote will be a no-brainer for you.

One last piece of advice:

  1. Don't do anything stupid. Because you don't want to do anything that gives him ammunition to justify himself and create reasonable doubt about his past behavior at the expense of your present credibility. You don't want to muck up the waters that way, by giving him credibility that he doesn't deserve through your own actions, understandable as they may be.

  2. If he is as bad as you say he is, the positive way to react is to EDUCATE your fellow co-op members about how he acted and what he did. The more objective, the more dispassionate you come across as you educate your fellow coop members, the more devastatingly effective you will be in making your case against his candidacy. It's not revenge, it's performing your duty to your fellow co-op members to inform them as a matter of due diligence(*)

(*) Thanks to @Pepone, whose comment that job candidates must pass a separate "good fit" interview with coop members triggered this paragraph into existence :)

  • and in the early days of a coop you really want to start off by "blackballing" some one? Not a good start and doesn't make a good impression on the other co-operators (that's the technical term for a member of a coop) – Pepone Jun 23 '14 at 11:45
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    @Pepone I've blackballed people on the first day. Because they said something to me that got all my alarm bells ringing. In 10% of the cases where I blackballed someone right from the first hour of the first day, it was a false alarm, I was incorrect and I had to eat crow and make amends. In the other 90%, I was right from the first hour of the first day and my employer found out the hard way that I was right. I am usually chill. I let people reveal themselves over time, and I give them enough rope to hang themselves. Sometimes, they don't want to wait and they use the rope right away :) – Vietnhi Phuvan Jun 23 '14 at 12:12

If from past experience you objectively believe that the person would damage your company, then that is what you should tell your peers.

If you and this guy hate each other, for totally non-objective and personal reasons, then having you both will still objectively be bad for the company and your peers should now about it.

And if you believe that this person, if hired, will try to damage your position in the company, then you should put your interest ahead of everything else.

If on the other hand, this person's action three years ago, even though painful for you, was correct and he is a good person for the position, then you should vote for him. Avoid actions that make you vengeful and avoid actions that turn you into a martyr.


Should I vote to rehire someone who fired me violently some years ago and is currently asking to join a collaborative project?

You should leave personal issues out of the decision.

As an active participant, and part-owner of your company, you should vote to rehire anyone who can advance your company sufficiently and you should vote to reject people who don't.

Also weigh other factors beside this individual's ability - professionalism, risk, etc - just as if you were hiring any other individual. In this instance, you just happen to have more detailed information.

  • And remember the option of interviewing more people before making a decision. You don't have to decide in a vacuum. – keshlam Feb 17 '16 at 0:13

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