HR Strange But True!
August 24, 2007

We admit that some of our stories are only tangentially HR- or workplace-related, but sometimes they are just too good not to share.

This week it is the tale of Bill Schneider, the former director of tourism for Provincetown, Mass., who recently was outed for having claimed on his website that his self-published novel was a selection of Oprah's Book Club, and that he had appeared on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" show to promote it.

It turns out that neither was the case. "Mr. Schneider did not appear on the 'Oprah Winfrey Show' in May or June of 2007," a spokeswoman told Boston's Weekly Dig. "His book Crossed Paths has not been chosen as an Oprah's Book Club selection. My records do not indicate that Bill Schneider or his book have ever been on the 'Oprah Winfrey Show.'"

How he thought he would get away with it, we'll never know, but Schneider even went so far as to post a five-page "transcript" of his Oprah interview, including this exchange:

"Oprah: Bill, I must tell you that I immediately fell in love with this book when I first read it.

"Schneider: Thank you. Thanks very much.

"Oprah: Crossed Paths is truly a gem of story. Tell me how you came to write this very poignant book ... "

Schneider ultimately 'fessed up to his deception. "I acknowledge an error in judgment, in my attempt to memorialize (in my book) someone very special who didn't get a chance to finish his life," Schneider told the Cape Cod Times. "It's so important, besides giving recognition, for people to never miss the opportunity to reach out to someone who feels that they're different. His father would have disowned him for being gay."

And this week he resigned as Provincetown's tourism director, saying he is "ready for a new challenge."

Oh, and the HR angle? "There's not any conflict that I'm aware of with Bill's personal website and the town," Provincetown Town Manager Sharon Lynn told the Times last week. "His employment is not affected." Lynn reitereated this week that Schneider was not going to be fired and had resigned on his own.

See? We told you there was a connection.

And speaking of Oprah and scandals, have you heard about the Oprah employee who put in for a whopping 800 hours of overtime over one 16-week period?

The New York Post calculated that, based on a traditional 8-hour day, 5-day week work schedule, the employee would have had to have averaged an incredible 18.5 hours per day. Even based a 7-day work week, the employee would have averaged about 13 work hours per day.

The OT filings have some Oprah employees grumbling about favoritism, the Post reports. But a spokeswoman for Harpo, Oprah's production company, said the OT claims were legitimate.

"Many of our employees contribute significant hours of overtime during our production season" she told the Post. This is quite common within the television industry."

Sources: Weekly Dig, Cape Cod Times, New York Post

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