Once again, the annual look at outlandish employment cases that should make you all think, “It could be worse.”
No Pot of Gold at the End of This Rainbow
The former aide of a state senator (amazingly not California) submitted a complaint to the state’s division of human rights, complaining that the state senator directed him to dress up as a leprechaun for a St. Patrick’s Day parade. According to the former aide, his “basic human rights” were violated and a leprechaun outfit was “not befitting” a grown man.” What is not quite clear here is what protected status might apply in this case: (1) colorful cereal box cartoon leprechaun or (2) terrible acting in the Leprechaun movie (1993). Although leprechauns are known to enjoy a good practical joke, the aide was not amused when he was later terminated from his position for reasons unrelated to leprechaun shenanigans. The takeaway here is for employers to avoid asking employees to dress up as a mythical creature whose principal occupation is mending shoes. It is not befitting.
There’s Some “Dead Wood” Here, And It Ain’t the Acclaimed HBO Series
The obvious and primary definition of dead wood is a branch or part of a tree that is dead. The secondary definition is “people or things that are no longer useful or productive.” A university settled the age discrimination claims brought by two employees after a new supervisor referred to them as dead wood and change-adverse, and commented that dealing with them was like “herding hippos.” The “dead wood” employees were passed over for promotions and essentially forced out of their positions. They received sizeable settlements and an injunction against the university designed to prevent future age discrimination in the workplace.
Firehouse Pranks Alive and Well
In an effort to “lighten the mood and help guys have some fun,” a firefighter thought it would be a good idea to place snap fireworks in the firehouse toilet. Well, as you can imagine, that prank did not go over well when another firefighter’s scrotum was burned by the exploding snap firework. Needless to say, he was not happy with the results of the prank gone awry. He sued the department for his injuries. What happened next, you ask? The court said it could not provide relief because the incident was covered by workers’ compensation. The offending firefighter said the department allowed a “high degree of pranking among on-duty firefighters” and the judge said he did not commit an “intentional wrong.”
Flatulence from Down Under
An engineer in Australia sued his employer alleging his supervisor bullied him by repeatedly farting in his direction. The court, however, dismissed the case noting that flatulence is not bullying. Enough said.