Tuesday, October 4, 2011
This one from an Iowa-based chain of convenience stores. Owner William Ernst held contests among employees to guess who would be fired next. Ernst sent a memo that said:
“New Contest – Guess The Next Cashier Who Will Be Fired!!!
“To win our game, write on a piece of paper the name of the next cashier you believe will be fired. Write their name [the person who will be fired], today’s date, today’s time, and your name. Seal it in an envelope and give it to the manager to put in my envelope.
“Here’s how the game will work: We are doubling our secret-shopper efforts, and your store will be visited during the day and at night several times a week. Secret shoppers will be looking for cashiers wearing a hat, talking on a cell phone, not wearing a QC Mart shirt, having someone hanging around/behind the counter, and/or a personal car parked by the pumps after 7 p.m., among other things.
“If the name in your envelope has the right answer, you will win $10 CASH. Only one winner per firing unless there are multiple right answers with the exact same name, date, and time. Once we fire the person, we will open all the envelopes, award the prize, and start the contest again.
“And no fair picking Mike Miller from (the Rockingham Road store). He was fired at around 11:30 a.m. today for wearing a hat and talking on his cell phone. Good luck!!!!!!!!!!”
Although several employees claimed to be so shocked by the memo that they quit, he was described as "the boss from hell." This developed into an unemployment case when those who quit sought benefits. Ultimately, an ALJ sided with the ex-employees because the contest was “egregious and deplorable” and created "an intolerable and detrimental work environment”--essentially concluding that this was a constructive discharge. This also provides a possible intentional infliction of emotional distress claim in some jurisdictions, although probably not a winner in most.
Hat Tip: Stuart West