June 8, 2012 -- Jesus may Save, but apparently he can't do much about job retention.
That's what 25 employees at Tate Publishing & Enterprises, a Christian book and music publisher in Mustang, Oklahoma, learned after they were unceremoniously dumped from their jobs last week.
Only God knows the real reason for the bloodbath, but according to The Journal Record, Tate Publishing president Ryan Tate fired 25 of his 200-member stable on May 31. That's because over Memorial Day weekend, a Tate Publishing employee circulated an anonymous email taking Ryan Tate to task for planning to lay off employees and outsource their jobs to the Philippines.
Tate did not respond to repeated interview requests from ABC News. But he did tell The Journal Record that his company is opening an office in the Philippines, along with, eventually, China and Australia. He also denied any US-based layoffs. Instead, he said, the May 31 firings took place because employees had breached confidentiality agreements by spreading rumors about the Philippines outsourcing.
"This is all disciplinary actions – it's nothing to do with the company or outsourcing," Tate told The Journal Record. "It saddens me in this day and age, and in this economy, that anybody would have the stupidity to not understand an employee contract they've signed."
In a vitriolic rant captured by a Tate Publishing employee and given to The Journal Record, Tate sounded more like a teacher cracking students with a ruler rather than the scion of a family-owned Christian company. He threatened to sue employees and file liens against their homes and automobiles if they violated their employee contracts by talking to the media or posting neagative comments on places like Facebook. And he said he would fire 25 productions workers after no one came forward to take responsibility for the anonymous email.
"Proverbs says that the wicked will set a trap, but the righteous will prevail and the wicked will fall into their own trap," he said in the recording. "A lot of good people are going to get hurt."
"To those of you paying an unfair price, I'm really sorry," he continued, choking back tears. "I'll pray for you and pray for your families. I can't turn away on this one. Not at this time when we have so much to accomplish. I love you, I'm praying for all of you."
One former employee who quit earlier this year said Tate was often "condescending" in meetings. "It was a pretty negative working environment," she said, adding that she wished to remain anonymous for fear of company retaliation. "It was all about the bottom line."
"Ryan is calculating," said another employee who left the company last year. "He thinks he can't be touched because God is on his side, he's got a good business going and no one can really hurt him. That's why he didn't think anyone would record him."
One of the 25 employees who was fired said she was "happy to be out of there" and has already gone on job interviews. "I think a lot of us are getting bonus points in our interviewes when people say, 'You were fired by that lunatic, weren't you?'"