The weird workplace

Police behaving badly; Marijuana gets more people into trouble; Were they hungry for escargot?; Are you talking to me?; He just wasn't ready to leave
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 02/20/2015

Were they hungry for escargot?

BANFF, Alta.  — You’d think Parks Canada employees would have a certain respect for nature. But two workers were dismissed recently after swimming in Banff’s thermal pools, according to the Calgary Herald. The problem? The watering holes are home to the national park’s endangered snail. Charges under the parks act were laid against Stephan Titcomb, 52, and Kirsten Hughes, 54, but there was not enough evidence to support charges under the Species at Risk Act because it was unclear whether any of the Banff Springs Snails or their habitat had been harmed, according to Mark Merchant, spokesperson for Banff National Park. It’s very disappointing these things keep happening over and over, especially when park employees are involved, said Dwayne Lepitzki, an expert on the mollusk. “They should know better. There’s supposed to be some education happening with Parks Canada staff. Maybe that education happened; maybe it didn’t.”


Police behaving badly
BEIJING — Speaking of workers who aren’t concerned about endangered species, 14 police officers in the Chinese city of Zhenzhen were suspended recently on suspicion of eating an endangered giant salamander. The police chief was also under investigation. The officers allegedly consumed the animal at a seafood restaurant and some of them slapped and attacked reporters who were trying to take photos of the banquet, according to Reuters. Security personnel also refused to check surveillance video at the restaurant. Many of the giant salamanders have died over the last three decades, mostly due to human consumption. But some believe that eating the large amphibian can combat the effects of aging.

Marijuana gets more people into trouble
ONTARIO — It’s a bit of a pipe dream, and maybe that’s the problem. CEN Biotech, a company hoping to become Health Canada’s largest producer of medical marijuana, was caught recently creating a fake employee. It even issued a press release quoting the made-up person, according to the Globe and Mail. A Dec. 21 press release quoted Isak Weber, head of internal public relations at CEN Biotech, but the company’s former PR firm said executives lied about Weber’s existence. “We thrive with clients who are open and transparent with us,” said Jeff Bangs, partner at Toronto-based Pathway Group. “But as professionals, we do not condone fabricating an employee for the sole purpose of polishing a client’s reputation when they’re under scrutiny.” CEN’s CEO, Bill Chaaban, told the Globe Isak Weber is a nom de plume for an employee and compared the situation to when CEOs have speeches written by others. “There are also many corporations that adopt an identity,” Chaaban said, mentioning Ronald McDonald, Mr. Clean and Mr. Goodwrench as examples. Weber’s real name is Roger Glasel, he said. “It would have been improper to call him by an identifiable name.” 

Are you talking to me?
PHILADELPHIA — Nobody likes getting a bill in the mail, but imagine if the address on the bill substituted a swear word  for your first name. That’s what happened to Ricardo Brown when he received a bill from mass media and cable company Comcast addressed to “A—hole Brown.” The man’s wife, Lisa Brown, had previously cancelled the cable service but said she was “never rude” to the customer service representatives over the phone, according to CNN. As a result, the company said it fired the employee responsible and was looking at technical fixes to prevent such an incident from happening again. “We have spoken with our customer and apologized for this completely unacceptable and inappropriate name change,” said a spokesperson. Comcast already has a reputation for bad customer service, as seen when customer Ryan Block posted an eight-minute phone call online with a customer service rep who refused to cancel his service.
 
He just wasn't ready to leave
NEW DELHI — A.K. Verma had a pretty sweet job. An executive engineer at the Central Public Works Department in New Delhi, he last showed up for work in December 1990. But he wasn’t actually fired until January 2015, according to Reuters. Even after an inquiry found Verma guilty of “wilful absence from duty” in 1992, it took another 22 years and a cabinet minister’s intervention to remove him. “He went on seeking extension of leave, which was not sanctioned, and defied directions to report to work,” said the government. India’s labour laws make it hard to sack staff for any reason other than criminal misconduct, and the World Bank has said they are the most restrictive anywhere. But states have recently changed the law to make it easier to hire and fire staff. To cut down on rampant absenteeism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is making New Delhi bureaucrats sign in at work using a fingerprint scanner — see the results in real time at www.attendance.gov.in. 

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