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Feb 2, 2016

The world of the NBA brings us the real live HR Game Show What Would You Do?

I know most of you could care less about professional basketball, and I promise, this post isn’t about basketball. In case you didn’t hear about it, last week All Star Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers punched a team equipment manager, Matias Testi, while out at dinner in Toronto.

In fact, Griffin punched him in the face more than once, and he broke his hand doing it. So, now he can’t play basketball for the next six weeks.

Most people just chalk this up to “stupid, overpaid, professional athlete does wrong.” It’s not even Page 1 news because it almost happens on a weekly basis.

What are the options when employees fight?

For those HR Pros in the audience, you know that the Clippers now have a major problem!

Blake Griffin and Matias Testi
Blake Griffin and Matias Testi

One employee just did bodily harm to another employee. Not only that, your BEST employee just did bodily harm to an employee who can be replaced by a million people in a second. However, your best employee can’t be replaced, and if your competition gets him, it hurts your company. That’s pretty close to the truth.

So, tell me Mr. and Mrs. HR Pro – What Would You Do?

Let’s break down some options:

  1. Fire both parties. It takes two to get your butt beat. Both were engaged in a verbal spat that one party took further.
  2. Fire Blake Griffin. He’s at least twice the size of the guy he hit, and he’s at a much higher level within the company, thus his responsibility is much higher when it comes to how he acts.
  3. Don’t fire either one. This is probably what’s going to happen, but it would never happen this way in the “real” world. The two parties involved are friends. Something happened that shouldn’t. The lesser employee has the job of his life, constantly surrounded by millionaire athletes, and he doesn’t want anyone fired. He probably wants to apologize that his head wasn’t softer so he didn’t break Blake’s hand.
  4. Fire Matias Testi. He’s replaceable. You could easily cut a severance agreement for a small price and all this goes away. Being in the position he was, he should have known not to push Blake Griffin’s buttons given the value Blake has to the franchise.
  5. Give suspensions all around. Suspend both Blake and Matias for their involvement in the incident. The problem with this is that the Clips are trying to make the playoffs, probably will, and they’ll need Blake for them, and they start about the same time he would be coming off this injury. Are you really going to suspend your best employee for the playoffs? Heck no. I don’t care about Matias; you can suspend him and no one will notice.

Here’s what real HR pros would do

A real HR pro in this situation only has one option: Fire Blake Griffin. He’s demonstrated that he’s willing to physically harm an employee of the company, put the organization in harm’s way by missing games, and even self-implode by not controlling himself in a scenario a normal person would.

But this is where reality kicks real life HR Pros in the teeth.

The real call here is to get rid of Matias Testi. This decision, on all fronts, brings the most positive outcomes for all involved. The Clips get rid of a low-level employee for very little money. If he’s truly a friend of Blake Griffin’s, he won’t cause problems because he knows where the real money is in this relationship.

You can’t leave the possibility, even the remotest one, of this, happening again. With Matias Testi on the team, this could always happen again.

Real HR Pros gasp at this scenario because we all know where this would lead in real life: The courtroom. That’s where you miss one really smart play that you also can use — the severance agreement. Get Testi to sign the paper, hand him a check, and move forward. The Clips would be smart to move forward, and not without their best player, but without an equipment manager they could easily replace.

Here’s what you do with the puncher

Do I do anything with Blake Griffin?

Yeah, something has to happen. I would probably give him the biggest fine I can under the collective bargaining agreement, and maybe even go higher, just to prove a point, even knowing it will get knocked down.

Agree or disagree? Hit me in the comments!

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.