What’s the right time when someone absolutely deserved to be fired?

I hired a PhD engineer. He came in late and left early due to childcare needs. I told him to work from home and gave him access to our VPN, but security records showed that he never even logged in.

His first work product was unremarkable to me. I asked another engineer to review it, in case I had missed something because I don’t have PhD level math skills. The reviewer agreed with me that the work was trivial. I spoke to the engineer and asked him to put together a plan that would show me his value in the first 90 days of employment.

I met with him regularly, asking if there was anything preventing him from producing. He said there was not, but he still did not produce anything of value. I finally asked the founder of the company — a man with a PhD — to join a discussion in case the guy wasn’t able to take direction from me or in case he didn’t respect me for some other reason. When I again told him that his work did not meet our standards, he suggested that he work part time. The founder said my jaw dropped. Working full-time, he wasn’t producing and his solution was to work less?

I spoke with HR and fired him the next day. After I told him his employment was terminated, he told me that he’d been working on starting his own company and would have quit as soon as financing came through. Going through the files he’d saved to our servers, looking for any work we wanted to preserve, I found nothing except business plans, budgets, and other things related to his proposed startup.

It was a Dilbert moment. His employment lasted less than 60 days.