HR Strange But True!
October 20, 2011

This week’s column mainly focuses on the benefits of workplace games; however, there are certainly a few that should not be played in the office. For example, a contest where employees predict the next pink slip has trouble written all over it.

The owner of a convenience store has HR pros across the nation asking, “What were you thinking?” According to court documents, the owner allegedly sent a memo to employees that included an announcement of a controversial new contest.

The memo, which required employees’ signatures to receive their paychecks, announced “New Contest—Guess the Next Cashier Who Will Be Fired!”

To win a $10 prize, the memo states that employees must correctly guess the next cashier who will be fired by writing it on a piece of paper with their name and date, sealing it in an envelope, and giving to their supervisor. Secret shoppers were going to be making rounds at the convenience stores looking for cashiers breaking workplace rules, such as wearing hats, talking on cell phones, or not wearing the proper uniform.

“Once we fire the person,” the memo states, “we will open all the envelopes, award the prize, and start the contest again.”

In a final statement, the memo appears to reveal termination details about a staff member. Employees were told that choosing “Bob,” an employee who was fired at 11:30 that day for wearing a hat and talking on a cell phone, would be cheating.

Several employees quit as a result of the memo. However, the story doesn’t end there.

When the employees were denied unemployment insurance on the grounds that they quit, they took their case to court.

The administrative law judge ruled in favor of the former employees, finding that the employer "clearly created a hostile work environment by suggesting employees turn on each other for a minimal monetary prize."



Do you have a strange termination tale? Tell us your story and it could be featured in a column!

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