The weird workplace

Missing in action; Not on the menu; Hoax on a hill; 'Step away from that potluck'; Pointed protest
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/04/2016

Hoax on a hill

SUNDERLAND, U.K. — A man claiming disability living allowance (DLA) in the United Kingdom found himself in hot water recently when it was discovered he had been volunteering for three years at a historic peak that was 136 metres high. Graham Maughan, 48, claimed he was so disabled, he could barely walk, but was caught working at the Penshaw Monument, accessible by a steep climb involving 78 steps, according to the Daily Mail. Maughan earned more than £8,000 (C$16,000) for the three years but his cover was blown after an anonymous tip to the National Benefit Fraud hotline. He had been receiving the benefit since 1993 after a serious car crash, but pled guilty to failing to declare a change in circumstances and was ordered to pay £198 (C$390). Bench chairperson Janet Hutton said they were prepared to deal with the matter via a fine: ‘We have noted that it is over 30 years since you have committed an offence and given your clean history and your original qualification for benefits, we are prepared to deal with this offence by means of a fine.’


Missing in action

CADIZ, SPAIN — Sometimes, it can be hard to keep track of all your employees. That’s what a local authority in Spain found out recently when it discovered one of its civil servants had been absent for work for six years — and possibly as many as 14 — while still being paid. Joaquin Garcia, a 69-year-old engineer, began working for his employer in 1990 and in 1996 was posted to the municipal water board as a supervisor, according to the Guardian. But in 2010, when Garcia was due to collect a long-service medal, deputy mayor Jorge Blas Fernandez, who had hired Garcia, wondered where he was and a manager at the water board confirmed he had not seen the employee for several years. Garcia was called in and admitted he had not kept regular business hours but he had been the victim of workplace bullying due to his family’s socialist politics. Apparently the water board and city council both thought Garcia was the responsibility of the other. In the end, the engineer was fined $41,000, the equivalent of one year of his annual salary after tax. 

Not on the menu
JUPITER, FL. — There’s something about drive-thrus that tends to bring out the worst in people. A 23-year-old man in Jupiter, Fl., got in trouble recently when he decided to play a practical joke on a friend, according to Reuters. Joshua James went through the drive-thru of a local Wendy’s restaurant in Royal Palm Beach and, after picking up his drink order, hurled a live alligator through the window. He had found the three-foot reptile on the side of the road earlier and put it into his truck. But the fun was over when James was later charged with aggravated assault and unlawful possession and transportation of an alligator. Fortunately, the gator was released back into the wild.

'Step away from the potluck'
APACHE JUNCTION, ARIZ. — Potluck meals are definitely a staple at many workplaces. But in Arizona, that’s the only place where they’re allowed, according to KPHO/KTVK. Through a legislative change two years ago, potlucks were made illegal in the state if they were held outside the workplace. But state representative Kelly Townsend is looking to turn the law around. “I think it was a legislative oversight. We have those all the time. We go through the statutes and they’re called technical corrections, so this is kind of like a technical correction, that it wasn’t intended on shutting down all potlucks.” But one resident at a mobile home park was upset to hear such a piece of legislation was even being discussed: “The fact that some politician has got to actually stop and take the time to address this? Come on, that’s ridiculous.”

Pointed protest
UKRAINE — Some meetings can just go too long, judging by the actions of a female employee in Ukraine. Apparently desperate for a break, the woman undid her top and started squirting breast milk at colleagues, according to the Daily Mail. A video shows a large office with people standing around talking. For a few seconds, they are oblivious to the woman’s actions but then one man moves his laptop out of the way while another tries to shield the woman’s breast with his hand. The video was uploaded to Reddit where one user claimed workers had been waiting 14 hours for a break, while another suggested the woman must have been engorged with breast milk.

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