Jack Henry and Associates unwittingly let a scorpion loose in its Seattle office.
The online news site Vocativ reports that felony charges have been filed against 21-year-old James Allen Bea, who just days after being hired by the financial technology firm, allegedly started terrorizing colleagues with anonymous bomb threats and stalker-ish details about their personal lives. He also allegedly sent out photos of his dead brother--a shooting victim--lying in a coffin.
Vocativ described court filings in which the prosecutor “seemed taken aback by the sheer volume of frightening and graphic text messages sent to many, many people. This was no angry, one-time whim.”
Vocativ calls Bea “disgruntled,” which I’m not sure is accurate. (Really--how disgruntled can you get after three days?) More reasonably, the article says he may have used the threats to get out of work. “While court documents state no explicit motive for Bea’s berserk behavior,” the publication reports, “there’s enough evidence to suggest that he just didn’t want to go to his job. Many of the threats included demands that Bea stay home from work.”
As someone who writes about management, I feel compelled to extract lessons from this latest tale from the dark side. And I’m sure over the next few days I’ll be pitched by PR folk rep-ing experts on subjects like hiring, workplace bullying, and toxic employees, all of them eager to explain what it all means. Is this a story about the desirability of telework? (After all, if Bea were working from home he couldn’t use bomb threats to get out of the office.)
Is it about the need for better reference checking or more psychological testing of employees?(Presumably Bea didn’t come in for his interviews with LOVE and HATE tattooed across his knuckles. As far as I can tell he didn’t give away much on Facebook or Twitter, where he appears mostly to love his mother and the NFL.)
Mostly, this feels like one of those stories--like the one several years ago about the Los Angeles County employee who sat dead at her desk for a day before anyone noticed--that is simply too over-the-top to tell us anything meaningful about the world of work.
You read it. You shake your head. You go back to your own slackers and malcontents. And maybe, at least for a few hours, you’ll find them a little less aggravating.