The Weird Workplace

New feature looks at quirky, unusual and entertaining workplace stories
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 02/11/2013

Death star project implodes

WASHINGTON — Apparently, Darth Vader had deep pockets. An estimate has pegged the cost of building a real-life Death Star at US$852 quadrillion. A petition on the White House’s official site called on the United States government to build the massive space station from Star Wars fame. Despite the massive economic stimulus that could come from such an endeavour, the idea was given a thumbs down.“The administration shares your desire for job creation and strong national defence, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon,” said Paul Shawcross, head of the White House budget office’s science and space branch. On an unrelated note, the White House also increased the threshold for petitions to elicit an official response from 25,000 signatures to 100,000.

Worker outsources his own job

NEW YORK — For years, employees have feared employers would outsource their jobs overseas. Now, it turns out employers themselves should be worried about employees outsourcing their own work.Verizon’s RISK Team in the United States received a request from one of its customers that noticed something odd in its VPN logs — an open and active connection from Shenyang, China. The VPN account belonged to a long-tenured software developer in his mid-40s who most definitely wasn’t in China — he was sitting at his own desk in the United States. A search of his computer revealed hundreds of PDF invoices from a third party. Turns out the worker paid US$50,000 annually — less than one-fifth of his six-figure salary — to a Chinese firm to do his job. He even shipped his rotating token RSA key fob overseas so it could have continual access. A search of his browsing history revealed a typical day for the worker included surfing Reddit, watching videos, shopping on eBay and updating social media. Around 4:30 p.m. each day he’d email management, update them on project statuses and head home. To top it all off, his performance reviews noted he was “the best developer in the building.”

EI overhaul could use overhaul

Montague, P.E.I. — Service Canada is really bad at finding people. How bad? Well, Diane Finley, minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, recently told the National Post the agency couldn’t get in touch with a woman who was denied EI benefits — despite the fact the woman, Marlene Giersdorf, had been protesting outside the Service Canada office in Montague, P.E.I. Giersdorf made headlines after she was snared in new EI rules that denied her benefits because she refused to look for work in Charlottetown, a 40-minute commute away. Giersdorf doesn’t own a car, there is no public transportation available and the single mother doesn’t want to relocate because of custody issues. Alan McEwen, Canadian Payroll Reporter’s blogger, also uncovered another twist in the EI rules that changed on Jan. 6, 2013. (See article 17258 .)

Brazilian prostitutes keen to learn the lingo for 2014 world cup

SAO PAULO (Reuters) — Prostitutes in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte are signing up in droves for free language classes in order to be ready for a barrage of foreign visitors to the tropical country during the 2014 soccer World Cup. The women join many others in Brazilian society, from politicians to construction workers, who are racing the clock to prepare 12 host cities throughout the nation for the international soccer championship. Volunteers will be teaching them English, Spanish and even Portugese.

Have a weird workplace news item? Send an email to todd.humber@thomsonreuters.com.

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