In some cases the employee can be trying to bait you into getting some kind of confrontation, but you don't have to go there
I don't know about anyone else here but if it were me, the employer, and I had an employee who kept trying to push my buttons, he would be 'let go' in a heartbeat.
Do you have any idea how many people out there looking for work? There are millions of people who would love to take this asshole's place. People that have jobs and don't respect people in the workplace shouldn't be working there.
Basically I agree with you. In principle this should be the way things work.
But in reality, for instance where I've made my careeer, the IT business, things are a bit more complicated. There weren't and aren't a lot of people out there with qualifications. Since this has always worked to my advantage,I am ok with that.
The area that I used to work in, technical support, is notoriously in search of good people, since most people who know anything want to go into consulting or development. So, I took some guys who did not have much knowledge, but with the right attitude. They made huge progress and helped me achieve some of my goals. As I myself made my way into development and consulting, I kept in touch with the one guy who behaved. The one who did not never got any help or endorsements from me.
The way I approached it a the time was a bit devious - I'd introduced him to his girlfriend and wife to be. And since I still saw her on a friendly basis I let her know that he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder. So, instead of getting grief from me, he got it from his girlfriend
Had it been his usual modus operandi, I agree, he would have to go, but in general his contribution outweighed the negative aspects.
Around the same time there was one employee that I had "inherited" from another company when we took over part of their business. His contributions did not match his bad attitude, so he was cautioned and eventually he found a job in another part of the company. Since my goals were tied to the overall company goals that actually worked to my advantage, though I'd been happy to see him go - which eventually he did.
Overall I am in agreement with you, but kicking people out works better in jobs where supply outweighs demand. Among knowledge-workers and similar positions one still has to be careful. With the current economy that is of course also changing.