The weird workplace

Tee times take a toll; Child left hanging; Not suited for double standard; Conflict in the cubicles; Smelly landscapers
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/18/2016

Not suited for double standard 

COQUITLAM, B.C. — Politicians can all start to look the same after awhile, but one Canadian mayor took that stereotype to the extreme recently when he wore the same suit for more than a year — and nobody noticed. Richard Stewart, mayor of Coquitlam, B.C., wore a “plain, off-the-rack, boring, dark blue suit” to all public events and council meetings for 15 months in a row, according to the CBC. His motivation? To highlight the double standards faced by women in politics. “It became evident to me that nobody was going to notice, that this was not simply something that we remark upon when it comes to male politicians.” Stewart’s staff, colleagues, constituents and even his family failed to notice the fashion fail. “I’ve got daughters and when I see the inadvertent barriers that society puts in place about women and their career advancement, barriers that don’t exist for men, I kind of want to draw attention to them,” said Stewart, adding former colleagues in the B.C. legislature have told him about remarks they’ve received. “They’ve gotten angry emails from constituents saying, ‘That suit… is gaudy or inappropriate’ or ‘You wear that too much, why don’t you wear something else?’ — comments that I’ve never, ever heard as a man.”

Tee times take a toll

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA — Being unemployed is tough, no doubt, but some Australians may be a little too fussy when it comes to finding work. The government there plans to tighten rules around who qualifies for unemployment benefits, according to the Associated Press, to encourage people to get back to work. If someone refuses a job offer without a good excuse, the penalty is eight weeks without a welfare check. But three-quarters of unemployed Australians who did just that managed to keep their checks coming. Some of the reasons given? One man was not prepared to work Sundays because it interfered with his golf time. Another wanted to “follow his dream of becoming an actor” while another complained car washing was “too difficult.”  

Child left hanging

SURREY, B.C. — Yet another viral video has exposed an employee with performance issues. The footage was taken by a mother unhappy about how her child was being treated at a climbing gym. Her daughter was apparently stuck on a wall and crying, while a nearby worker was busy texting, according to the CBC. “My daughter is crying up there and she is ON HER PHONE TEXTING!!!” the mother wrote on Facebook. Yasen Nikolov, Funtopia Surrey’s general manager, said the employee had been fired. “Obviously, that’s not acceptable. It shouldn’t have happened at all,” he said. “This particular employee has broken at least three internal rules, starting with no phones outside of the employees’ room.” However, some questioned why the mother had not gone to her daughter’s aid instead of recording the incident.

Conflict in the cubicles

OTTAWA — Offices can make for strange bedfellows but one Ottawa bureaucrat had had enough when she filed a grievance against her work colleague. Line Emond, a data quality manager at the Parole Board of Canada, claimed the behaviour of her co-worker made her ill, according to the Canadian Press. She said the man was loud, flatulent and he swore, that he uttered odd noises and washed his bare feet with vinegar. “All the witnesses described him as being physically imposing and behaving strangely, inappropriately and abusively in the workplace,” said arbitrator Linda Gobeil. The man arrived in Emond’s office in 2009 and two years later, she took sick leave followed by disability leave until 2013. In the end, the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board granted the woman the right to work in a different building and ordered that she be reimbursed for salary and benefits lost during her time on long-term disability.

Smelly landscapers

SALEM, ORE. — While robots may be a threat to many jobs, when it comes to goats, not so much. At least that’s what a park in Salem, Ore., found out recently when it brought in 75 goats to eat invasive plants such as Armenian blackberry and English ivy. After six weeks, the program ended, according to Reuters, as the animals ate indiscriminately — including native flora and maple and hazelnut trees — and were said to have “a barnyard aroma.” The goats also cost nearly five times as much as human landscapers, adding up to $20,179 plus $4,203 for drinking water and a workers’ toilet, along with $2,560 for monitoring — compared to $4,245 for a normal parks maintenance man backed by a prison inmate work crew. However, the owner of Yoder Goat Rentals said the public response was very favourable and Keith Keever, the city’s parks superintendent, said the goats may be used in the future for other landscaping projects, such as steep hills.

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