The weird workplace

What's next, no breathing?; Scary labels; Where are the prizes?; Perfect for flu season; An apple a day…
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/17/2014

Where are the prizes?

STEVENSON, WASH.  — Teachers have it tough, no question, what with large class sizes and unruly students. But one Washington state high school teacher may have taken discipline a tad too far. The Stevenson High School science teacher used a “Wheel of Misfortune” to assign punishments for “low-level misconduct,” according to Reuters. One option included being pelted with rubber balls by fellow students. Cellphone footage posted online showed a student being hit by the balls as he shielded his face with a book. The spinning prop was considered “inappropriate but well-intentioned,” said superintendent Dan Read in a letter to parents, and the teacher did not “desire to embarrass, intimidate or harm any student… Poor judgment by any teacher is concerning and we plan to work with the teacher on more positive and productive classroom management skills going forward.” Zoey Zapfe, a 15-year-old sophomore, told KATU News she was punished by the rubber balls after chewing gum in class. “I’m hoping she gets fired because it was beyond humiliating.”


What's next, no breathing?
RICHMOND, VA. — Talk about a contradiction. Camel cigarette maker Reynolds American will no longer allow employees to smoke in its offices and buildings as of next year, according to the Associated Press. Instead, the company will build indoor smoking areas for the 18 per cent of its 5,200-employee workforce who indulge. “We believe it’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it because updating our tobacco-use policies will better accommodate both non-smokers and smokers who work in and visit our facilities,’’ said spokesperson David Howard. “We’re just better aligning our tobacco-use policies with the realities of what you’re seeing in society today.’’ But tobacco users should not despair: Smokeless tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, moist snuff, milled tobacco called snus and Eclipse, a cigarette that uses a carbon tip to heat tobacco after being lit by a lighter, will be allowed.

Scary labels
BENTONVILLE, ARIZ. — Maybe they were tight on space? Walmart got into some trouble recently when a section on its website featuring Halloween costumes was titled “Fat Girl Costumes.” The collection of plus-size women’s outfits showcased the usual selection — a female vampire, saloon girl and witch — but the category title, for the brief time it could be seen, did not go over well on social media, according to CNN. After Twitter users complained, saying, for example, “Truth in advertising, not always the best idea” and “Really @Walmart, who thought that would be an appropriate title for a public sales page? Come on,” Wal-Mart took down the section and sent out several apology tweets: “This never should have been on our site. It is unacceptable and we apologize. We worked quickly to remove this.” 

Perfect for flu season
STANFORD, CONN. — If you think your flu shot campaigns are getting a little stale, why not vividly illustrate the germs involved by giving out stuffed toys to employees? Giantmicrobes makes a line of plush toys based on viruses and other microscopic organisms, and its entire Ebola stock — including a small Ebola doll for $9.95, a “gigantic” Ebola doll for $29.95 and an Ebola petri dish toy for $14.95 — are sold out, according to Reuters. “Since its discovery in 1976, Ebola has become the T. Rex of microbes,” says the Stamford, Conn.-based maker of the “uniquely contagious toy,” which promotes them as gag gifts with educational value. The pretzel-shaped Ebola toy is popular with the likes of the World Health Organization, pharmaceutical companies and the American Red Cross. Other plush toys include Anthrax, Botulism, Cholera and Dengue Fever.

An apple a day...
JACKSONVILLE — Rejection is never easy, but it probably doesn’t have to involve porn — especially if Apple is involved. The  tech giant, in responding to an application for its app store from Florida-based NgenWorks — which allows users to search photos from Instagram — sent an email complaining it contained objectionable content, according to FastCompany. “Please see attached screenshot/s for more information.” However, the screenshots were actually porn pics, including a man masturbating. “Apple sent us pornography without trying to mask it and with no warning of what we were going to see. This means they exposed employees of my company to things Apple themselves said (were) objectionable. How is this acceptable?” said Carl Smith, founder of Ngen Works, on his blog. If one of the company’s employees sent out uncensored porn with no warning, she would instantly be fired, he said. Smith hopes the “upper echelon” at Apple will look into the matter. “There is a much better way to protect people from offensive material. It starts with not violating your own policy,” he said.

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