Show up to your job on time, always turn in your best work, and be a team player — these are all characteristics of a good employee. Every office has great employees and employees who are, well, not so great. You know, those employees who do just enough to get by and just enough to keep their jobs. Maybe you are one of those employees, and maybe you know one.
Whether you’re the best employee in the office or the worst, there has likely been a time — even if only for a moment — that you’ve thought about your losing your job. Maybe this fear was the result of an emergency that warranted an unplanned absence, or perhaps you had life stressors that just rendered you off your game for a few weeks. Job security has become a major concern during and after the recession and the mass layoffs that came along with it. In February 2009 alone, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employers took more than 3,000 mass layoff actions involving over 325,000 workers.
Even considering these mass layoff situations, most people like to think they know what to expect when it comes to job security. “If I do what I’m supposed to, I will keep my job,” people think to themselves reassuringly. But sometimes, the task of doing what you’re supposed to is more ambiguous than you could ever imagine.
This list of crazy reasons people have lost their jobs contains atypical reasons: These terminated employees broke rules that you wouldn’t necessarily find in a traditional employee handbook or code of conduct.
1. EMAILING IN ALL CAPS
WHEN YOU TYPE IN ALL CAPS, IT KIND OF SEEMS AS THOUGH YOU’RE YELLING, DOESN’T IT?
In the office, this is a big no-no. As we all know, a large degree of our communication back and forth to one another is via email, and writing emails to co-workers in ALL CAPS may be viewed as the equivalent of shouting at your co-workers, a behavior that is cause for termination.
This was the case for one New Zealand worker. According to CBS News, the worker had a pattern of writing emails in all caps and — to add insult to loud, obnoxious injury — she also drafted her emails in red font. Upon her canning, she sued her employer for wrongful termination and actually won a judgement for $17,000.
If this worker lived in the U.S., she may have had a harder time suing an “at-will” employer for wrongful termination. Some employee handbooks even spell out email etiquette to help avoid these types of occurrences.
2. Too Much Customer Interaction
Customer service is a big problem these days. Oftentimes, it’s difficult to get a knowledgeable and caring associate to help you with your concerns. Accenture reports that in 2013, more than 60 percent of global consumers changed service providers due to poor customer service.
Walmart may not have the best reputation when it comes to customer service, but the corporation does have one strict philosophy: Employees should never touch customers. Well, according to ABC News, one Black Friday a few years back, a 73-year-old Walmart worker said she had to break this rule, supposedly in efforts to protect herself and to contain a situation. The megastore fired the employee, citing to ABC that “based on the information we have, the situation led to a bad experience for our customer and it could have been avoided. We had to make a tough decision — one that we don’t take lightly.”
Without being there or seeing any video footage, no one will ever know what truly happened, except for Walmart, the former-employee, and that customer.
3. Too Sexy for Your Job?
Trust is the foundation upon which every relationship is built — or is it? The New York Times reported on an Iowa-based dentist who fired his dental assistant because she was just too darn beautiful.
Why? He found her irresistibly attractive and, as a married man, he was concerned about the possibility of temptation. Apparently, this was the optimal choice over simply exercising self control and reviewing all of the potential ethical ramifications associated with such a move.
Consequently, the dental assistant took the case to court, where it was shockingly dismissed. The court found that the assistant was fired “not because of her gender but because she was a threat to the marriage of Dr. Knight.” The former employee appealed but to no avail, and the lower court’s decision was upheld; the state supreme court found that she “may be lawfully terminated simply because the boss views the [her] as an irresistible attraction,” reports the Times.
The lesson? You can be fired for something you have absolutely no control over — namely, your looks and the way someone else views your physical appearance.
4. Angry Waitress
Jimmy Fallon’s show is pretty much always good for a late-night laugh. A while back, the show had viewers tweet reasons why they got canned on Twitter using the hashtag #howigotfired. There were some real doozies, but one that stood out involved a waitress who took the old “you need this 50 cent tip more than I do” to the next level.
This particular waitress served a party of 10 people who left her only a 48 cent tip. She then proceeded to go out to the parking lot and throw the change at their cars. Perhaps this is a move deserving of a good canning.
5. Social Media Mishaps
With only 140 characters to say what you want to say, it can be tough to get your thoughts across and be completely PC, all while ensuring your message is a clear and readable one. Generally, as a rule of thumb, if you have any question as to whether or not your post is appropriate, don’t post it. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Social media mishaps occur regularly, and CNN reported on a few. A Denver math teacher published revealing photos on her social media account and tweeted about pot smoking and other behaviors that we would not think of as characteristic of a teacher. These posts got her fired in spite of their popularity among her students.
A California Pizza Kitchen worker was also fired for his tweeting. His profanity on the company’s Twitter page, along with his strong negative opinions about the company’s new uniforms, led to his dismissal. Then, there was good old Gilbert Gottfried, who “gottfired” from Aflac after insensitive remarks about the Japan tsunami.
These are just a few of the many, many examples of social media-related cannings. Think before you post. And, of course, don’t drink and post.
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