The weird workplace

Hiring hypocrisy?; Humorous harassment; Slippers not allowed; Basking in Barbados; Table for 1
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 02/22/2016

Slippers not allowed

BARCELONA — After a shortage in supplies, police officers in Barcelona have been forced to wear trainers on their feet instead of standard-issue boots. Embarrassed, the officers have complained to their union,  calling the situation “shameful” and “undignified,” according to the Mirror. “If you find an agent of the Catalan police with his cap, uniform, gun and... sneakers, do not be surprised,” said a spokesperson for the Trade Union of the Catalan regional police force (USPAC). It’s said some of the police officers have been wearing the same pair of regulation boots for seven years because of cutbacks and failed deliveries. While people might find the situation funny, the officers said there are health and safety issues along with weather-related concerns. The Mossos d’Esquadra are one of the oldest police forces in Europe and are often seen with full body armour and machine guns.

Hiring hypocrisy? 
EDMONTON — An Alberta CEO caused a stir recently when he announced his company would not be hiring any students or graduates from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver and Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. Peter Kiss of Morgan Construction made the declaration on LinkedIn because of an on-campus campaign encouraging the school’s administration to strip its endowment of fossil fuel-related investments, according to the National Post. “(If) they can’t support us, we can’t hire their students” said Kiss.  “If you are a student of these schools you need to let the leadership know that you won’t be getting a job in Alberta and why.” NDP opposition energy critic Adrian Dix found the post hypocritical and discriminatory. “What he was saying is he was actively discriminating against UBC students because he didn’t like their expression of free speech, which I think is probably illegal,” said Dix. Kiss later said his statement was taken the wrong way but retracted his earlier comments, saying, “Morgan will continue to hire the best local BC and Aboriginal workers, including students from UBC and Queens.” 

Humorous harassment
PALERMO, ITALY — Sexual harassment might be all over the news in Canada but Italy has a different take on the behaviour, according to one controversial ruling. An Italian man accused of groping female colleagues was found not guilty of sexual harassment because he was driven by an immature sense of humour, not sexual gratification. While it was accepted by the court that the 65-year-old acted inappropriately, he was acquitted nonetheless, according to Reuters. The judges said the contact was not lascivious or for pleasure: “Objectively, it was brought on by an immature and inappropriate sense of humour, mixed in with a veiled abuse of power and an albeit improper way of establishing hierarchical relationships in the office.” The ruling was condemned by many in the country and one union said it was “amazed and puzzled” by the decision: “(The ruling) ignores the sensitivity and dignity of the working women and, at the same time, unfathomably permits the sexual violence, which was perpetrated even if on a small scale.”

Basking in Barbados
YORK, U.K. — While there’s nothing wrong with a trip to a local theme park, staff at a wholesale travel company in England were surprised to find out their boss was actually treating them to a Barbados trip instead. The travel company was celebrating its 10-year anniversary and 32 workers at the Group Company were all set to take in Flamingo Land nearby when their founder, Helen Bilton, announced instead they’d be enjoying three days at a five-star resort in the Caribbean, according to the Daily Mail. “I thought about doing a big party to celebrate the 10th anniversary with suppliers and customers. But then I thought the people that really deserve a treat are the people that work hard day in, day out for the business,” said Bilton.

Table for 1
SAN DIEGO — The Marina Room restaurant in San Diego has probably seen all kinds of patrons entering its fancy digs. But one customer definitely stood out recently: A sea lion pup. The critter apparently came in through a side door and plopped herself down in a booth, according to Reuters. A rescue team from the nearby SeaWorld San Diego theme park soon arrived to remove the barking sea lion and she was taken to the park for care. Malnourished, the pup was eight months old and weighed less than half the normal size for its age, said David Koontz, a spokesperson for the centre, but they were “guardedly optimistic” the pup would be nursed back to health and returned to the wild.

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