Client’s Challenge: Manic Outbursts Lead to Termination
A partner at an intellectual property firm with an international client base contacted Hillard Heintze Chief Executive Officer Arnette Heintze with a pressing matter. For several months, a former U.S. employee had been harassing and slandering employees at one of the firm’s Texas offices on both their work-related and private email accounts – and on numerous social media outlets. “This individual’s explosive and manic outbursts were happening weekly and creating a toxic work environment,” the partner said. “We had to let him go. We need you to help us determine whether this person is a real threat to us – and what steps we should take.”
The Hillard Heintze Solution: A Deep Dive for Issues of Concern
The Hillard Heintze Threat + Violence Risk Management team completed a thorough threat assessment and background investigation. This included (1) identifying and confirming the individual’s personal information and criminal and civil records; (2) reviewing the subject’s online posting history for background information and leads, and to learn more about his history of behavior; (3) identifying and contacting the individual’s parents and siblings to determine his personal history and insights into his potential for violence; (4) submitting public records requests to law enforcement agencies to collect information on arrests or other incidents; and (5) psychologically assessing the subject.
Impact on the Client: New Light – and a Plan of Action
The Hillard Heintze team discovered that the subject, now living in a housing cooperative, had a history of mental illness that was first diagnosed in the 1990s. The subject’s mother described her estranged son as “paranoid, “hostile,” “delusional” and “a grudge-maker.” The team also learned that there had been more than 30 complaints against the subject from co-workers at a previous job. However, Hillard Heintze’s threat assessment experts advised that while the subject had a long history of mental illness, they found no behavioral indication of imminent violence on the part of the subject and did not believe he presently posed a physical threat to anyone at the firm. Because of the challenges encountered when faced with a severely mentally ill pursuer, the team presented the client with a case management strategy that encouraged on-going liaison with law enforcement, mental health professionals and their legal advisors to capitalize on any opportunity to employ an intervention that would result in jail time, mental health treatment or both.
Unplugged: The Project Manager’s Post-Engagement Perspective
“Our team recognized that this was a delicate situation. It was clear that the subject had a history of mental illness, however the more closely our threat assessment experts examined the matter, the more apparent it became that the client’s employees were likely not in imminent danger.
“The client needed options, and – based on the subject’s behavioral profile and patterns of hostility – we presented a series of potentially appropriate legal avenues.”