Hopes are high when companies welcome aboard new hires. Colleagues corral around the coffee maker to excitedly introduce themselves, supervisors convene meetings to tout the new hire’s experience. Often times, these employees go on to do great things.  Other times, things don’t exactly work out.

Then, every once and a while, things totally crash and burn and the once office-darling ends up going down in history as one of the worst employees ever.

Keep in mind this list of nightmare employees the next time you’re tempted to complain about a coworker.

The Perilous Prank

It’s one thing for a manager to reprimand a co-worker for stealing drinks from the communal fridge. But it’s another thing to contaminate said drinks with laxatives and then mistakenly allow customers to buy the beverages.

A 54-year-old shopper at the Family Dollar Store in Kansas City, Mo., sadly bore the brunt of the employee-on-employee prank. After drinking a laxative-laced Coke from the store, Barbara J. Nelson became ill and was rushed to the hospital for treatment.

Nelson later filed a lawsuit seeking $25,000 in damages, and the manager was not only fired but arrested on charges of aggravated assault.

Menacing Messages

Some employees try to get out of going to work by faking sick. James Allen Bea, a 21-year-old employee at a financial services company in Seattle, decided to take a different route: repeated bomb threats.

Last April, Bea terrorized fellow employees with dozens of anonymous emails and text messages claiming that explosives hidden in the office would detonate if they didn’t evacuate the building.

As if the threats weren’t enough to land him on this list, Bea also stole credit card numbers from several of the firm’s clients and racked up thousands in purchases.

Police eventually traced the messages back to Bea and jailed him on $100,000 bail.

When Architects Attack

Believing that she was on the verge of being fired, Marie Lupe Cooley, an employee at a Florida-based architectural firm, walked into the office one Sunday night in 2008 and erased nearly $2.5 million worth of computer files.

The files, which contained seven years’ worth of architectural drawings and blueprints, were thankfully recovered by a data-recovery service.

Turns out Cooley wasn’t even on the verge of losing her job. A classifieds ad, listed by the company’s owner, had led her to believe she was getting fired, but the listing was actually for an opening at the owners wife’s company.

Note to self: double-check classifieds that seemingly threaten your job. Oh, and double-check that your computers are backed up.

The Bold Banker

Karen L. Baer stole close to $1 million over the course of her 9-year tenure as a bank teller at PNC Bank in Maryland.

When confronted by authorities — who uncovered the theft during a 2007 audit of the bank — Baer admitted that she had been swiping $10,000 from her teller drawer on at least a monthly basis.

She’d been spending the money on vacations and her kids’ college tuition, Baer said, not to mention a Hummer H2, a Chevy Corvette, snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles.

Is your business adequately covered against a data breach or cyber risk? Find out in our Guide to Data Breach Coverage.

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