The Weird Workplace

Rejection just so irresistable; Give me an 'L' — for lawsuit; Prank misses the mark; Nature, wildlife and… WiFi?; Not the best use of employee discounts; Twitter sounds like House of Commons
By Todd Humber
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 05/20/2014

Prank misses the mark

DETROIT — Here’s a guy who won’t be taking home ‘boss of the year’ honours. Justin Orman, 24, was instructed by his boss at Interstate Battery System, Chris Gelineau, to pick up inventory at an auto parts store. When Orman arrived, he was lured into the lobby where two men in hoodies pointed a gun at him, threw him against the wall and told him to "turn over anything of value or (he) would be shot," according to the Detroit Free Press. After 10 minutes of terror, the assailants fled the store without stealing anything and staff told Orman they would call police. A shaken Orman returned to his job at Interstate only to find out, hours later — after being strung along by his boss — it was a joke allegedly orchestrated by Gelineau. The prank left Orman with post-traumatic stress disorder, extreme mental anguish and he has attempted suicide three times, according to a lawsuit filed by Orman. An employer spokesperson said it was taking the allegations seriously, saying "the behaviour as alleged in the lawsuit is inconsistent with our values."

Rejection just so irresistible

VANCOUVER — Are sales down at your retail locations? Are customers not returning to the store? It may be because your staff are just too friendly and helpful, according to research out of the University of British Columbia. Marketing professor Darren Dahl found that high-end luxury stores such as Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Gucci can get away with poor customer service, according to the CBC. "Rejection by a brand increases consumers’ desire to affiliate with it, and they do so by increasing their willingness to purchase, pay for and wear or display items from the rejecting brand," said the research paper, slated to be published later this year. But stores without high-end name-brand cache, such as Target, Gap and H&M, won’t be able to get away with the same kind of snobbery.

Give me an ‘L’ – for lawsuit

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Five former cheerleaders for the Buffalo Bills have filed a lawsuit against the NFL club. Among the litany of claims is that cheerleaders were subjected to a "jiggle test" to ensure they were fit, according to the Buffalo News. Maria P., one of the plaintiffs, said the test was just one of the indignities the women faced while working as Buffalo Jills. She also alleges they were not paid for all the hours worked, logging up to 840 hours of unpaid time per year, and the cheerleaders were harassed and touched inappropriately at community events — at the annual Jills golf tournament, they were required to wear bikinis and sit in a dunk tank. They were also auctioned off as prizes to ride around with the golfers. "I signed up to be a cheerleader, not whatever you want to call that," she told the News. The lawsuit points out that the highest-paid Buffalo Bill earns US$16 million per year while the cheerleaders are paid less than minimum wage. Cheerleaders were paid anywhere from US$105 to US$1,800 for the season, according to the lawsuit, which is also seeking to have the cheerleaders declared employees, not independent contractors.

Nature, wildlife and… WiFi?

OTTAWA — Unplugging from work is about to get even harder. Parks Canada is looking to install WiFi at up to 50 parks this year, according to the Canadian Press. And it isn’t stopping there — that number could triple over the next three years. Some provincial parks across the country already offer wireless Internet. The upside? Your next selfie in Banff may just feature a black bear backdrop.

Not the best use of employee discounts

PARIS — An Air France executive stands accused of running a vast prostitution ring that has brought in about $3 million Cdn per year since 2010. The man, named in media reports only as Alain D., allegedly brought young women from Brazil to France and forced them to work as prostitutes, according to the Telegraph. Prosecutors said the executive was able to buy discounted tickets from his employer to bring the women into the country. The man and his wife apparently went to Brazil about once a month, bringing the women into the country by saying they were family members.

Twitter sounds like House of Commons

OTTAWA — Who knew there were trolls living in Ottawa? Liberal MP Bob Rae decided to tweet about his low opinion of the federal government’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program, saying it stemmed from an "anti-immigration bias" that had roots in the Reform Party, according to the Toronto Star. But Minister of Employment and Social Development Jason Kenney didn’t take kindly to the harsh words. "That’s obscene & beneath you @BobRae48. We’ve increased immigration to record levels, the highest per-capita level in the developed world," he wrote. Kenney also pointed out that under Stephen Harper, immigration has increased by 14 per cent per year in Canada, while under former prime minister Jean Chrétien immigration levels dropped by 32 per cent.

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