HR Strange But True!
August 10, 2006

Two things are clear: There are a lot of truly bad employees in the world, and there are a lot of readers of this column who are just dying to share their horror stories about them.

Last week we wrote about some blog entries for "the worst employees you've come across," and we invited readers to submit their own examples. You responded -- in spades. We can't include all of them here, but we'll try to share others in a future issue.

As with last week's examples, many submissions dealt with inappropriate office attire, and we learned that some of your co-workers have earned the nicknames "Ms. Bosom," "Saran Wrap," and "Muffin Top" (don't ask).

Other entries dealt with workplace decorum and following orders. "Shakin' My Head" wrote us about an employee given to swearing, complaining, and badmouthing supervisors.

"We were gathering information for a disciplinary meeting when one last incident helped us end it all. His supervisor found him griping and not working, so he instructed him to get back to work. The employee refused, and then the supervisor said firmly, 'Get back to work -- this is a verbal warning.'"

"The employee's response was, 'F--- you and your verbal warning!' He was terminated that very day."

Abuse of vacation and time-off policies was a common complaint in the responses we received.

"I had an employee who had the most unusual ideas about vacation," one respondent wrote. "The organization had a very clear policy regarding how much time could be accrued ('under no circumstances can an employee accrue more than xx days'), and it mentioned that for exempt staff, taking vacation time for things like plumber visits, etc., was appropriate."

"This employee, however, demurred -- contractor visits weren't vacation (just time off with pay). Also, it wasn't vacation if it rained and ruined her plans. And, if she couldn't coordinate her plans with the people she wanted, no problem -- it would just accrue to the next year! In her mind (and the records she kept), she was entitled to a vacation balance of 4 times the policy."

One submission revolved around an employee who probably didn't help her company make a great first impression.

"We once had an employee who often slept on the job," a reader wrote. "Unfortunately, she was our receptionist. When she was awake, family members (who were not employees) would come by and hang out at her desk and chit-chat with her. When they weren't here physically, she would be constantly talking on the phone with them, letting business calls go unanswered. She was eventually asked to resign, but not soon enough as far as I was concerned."

Another reader started out by agreeing with the minority voice in last week's column that complaining about others is a sign of low self-esteem. However, she then proceeded to get on quite a roll about one of her colleagues.

"I work in an office with the most crude, uncooperative, unprofessional people I have ever met," she wrote. "We have a woman in our office that has no personality, no communication skills, and no people skills. She will stand outside of the bathroom door and listen to how much air freshener you spray. If she feels you have sprayed too much, she will tell you how long you should hold the spray nozzle down when spraying."

"She is loud and is often asked to lower her voice. This woman is in her sixties and has threatened our owner with an age discrimination suit if he fires her. So guess what? She stays. If this means I am unhappy with myself, so be it. The only thing I am unhappy about is that I am stuck in this job in this company until I can find something else."

And, finally, one of our personal favorites: "Interviewing an internal candidate for an open position in another department, I asked what goals she might have for the future. 'Moving to Arizona where there are some decent jobs,' was her response." Signed, "Still Interviewing in a Non-Arizona state."

Call us gluttons, but we can't get enough of this stuff. Send us your stories, and we'll try to include them in "Worst Employees, Round Three." Send an e-mail to, and again, please tell us how you would like to be identified, if at all.

Sources: You readers (Thank you!)

TGIF - It's HR
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