I’m Afraid Of Our Accountant!

Question:

My company has an accountant who is in every day. In late summer last year, the accountant just stopped talking to me. This happened about 2 years earlier also, and when I asked him what was going on, he ignored me. Later, at a company funeral, he started talking to me again. For a while, it was all peaches and cream, but as I stated, late last summer, it started (the no talking) again. I do not know why and no one else did either.

Then, we went into chapter 11 so it’s now just me, the accountant and the bosses; the entire office/overhead had to go per the bank/court — the field crew are all still here but they are in the field all the time — well, things are getting progressively worse. Even though the accountant is only here 3 days a week, the stress level is unbelievable. He talks to everyone else, but if I enter a room/office, he stalks out, he curses in the copy room adjacent to my desk if no one else is around and knows I can hear his ranting. My bosses just think he’s a nut case, but things have been made to look as if I’m not doing my job. I’ve talked to the bosses on several occasions and kept brief notes on what’s been going on like files missing or misplaced. On and on — but the bosses are between a rock and a hard place due to the chapter 11 because they can’t “fire” him (independent contractor and because of the court/bank) now, today, I was called in the boss’s office to go over something, the accountant was in there and he went into “convulsions” the entire time I was talking to the boss about something. Then he finally snapped his pen in two! I just ignored him when I was in there as I do all the time. My boss told me about his shaking/convulsions and the pen — boss thought it was funny accountant was so “mental”.

I’m starting to become physically afraid of this person and what might happen if I’m here in the office alone. I’ve tried to ignore the “ignoring” but I just don’t have the strength any more. I want to give a “veiled threat” as I saw on your site; but if I have to follow through, can I collect unemployment because I don’t have another job? I’ve been here going on 15 years and love everything else but this! Maybe you can offer some advice?

Thank you.

Signed,

Scared


Answer:

Dear Scared:

You should be concerned about this matter–and something should have been done about it long before now. Have you told your bosses that you feel very threatened? Do you think they are aware of their liability if something should happen? Has anyone tried to talk to the accountant about this situation? Have you ever filed a complaint against him so you have a record of asking for help? Is he an independent contractor or does he have a boss elsewhere who has been told about this? Those are all things that should be considered as you develop your plan of action.

This points out why neither you nor the bosses should have ignored it for so long. It has only gotten worse and now is more difficult to deal with. And although it would not be easy to do, if your bosses wanted to fire him, they certainly could by presenting their evidence about liability concerns to the court. If your company is going through bankruptcy, they undoubtedly have an attorney. You should document everything that has happened and give it to your bosses. If they don’t take action, send a copy to the attorney. He or she would see the potential for a lawsuit by you. Unfortunately, if you are harmed in some way, a lawsuit won’t help you much!

Please, do not delay in writing down all that you have had happen and presenting it to those who can do something about this frightening man. But be very factual about all of it–what expressions were on his face, what sounds he made, what things he said, etc. I emphasize that because using vague terms will not be sufficient. For example, I doubt that he actually had a convulsion in the office, as you mentioned–which would likely involve falling on the floor and being unconscious–so that kind of terminology makes it sound as though you exaggerate his actions. Stick to the factual details of what he has done and how you felt about it. Then, say that you want something done that will ensure that you do not have to deal with him anymore.

In addition, you should insist that you do not want to be left in the office alone with him, nor do you want to walk to your car without an escort. You need to show that you are truly concerned if you want others to take the matter seriously. And you SHOULD be concerned!

You say you have worked there for 15 years–surely there is some loyalty to you and the job you have done. If not, you need to find another job anyway. One thing is certain: If your bosses won’t protect you by either firing him or keeping him away from you, you need to leave for your own safety. Perhaps the threat of that–not thinly veiled, but definite–will make them do what they should have done already.

If you have time and wish to do so, please let us know what develops with this.

Voicing your concerns to those who can make a difference is WEGO action.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.