The Weird Workplace

|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 10/17/2016

BOLD BURGLARY

OTTAWA — It’s one of the oldest — and most cringe-worthy — tricks in the book. A Royal Canadian Mint employee allegedly smuggled out nearly $180,000 in gold, evading several layers of security by hiding it in his rectum. The case against Leston Lawrence, 35, of Barrhaven, Ont., took place in an Ottawa courtroom. On multiple occasions, Lawrence took small circular chunks of gold — cookie-sized nuggets called pucks — to a gold buyer in the area, according to the National Post. He would then deposit his cheques at a nearby bank, and request the money be wired out-of-country — that is, until an alert bank teller became suspicious and called the RCMP. Lawrence set off the metal detector at the Mint’s secure exit more than any other employee, but always passed searches conducted with a hand-held wand. Investigators found a container of Vaseline in Lawrence’s locker. In total, Lawrence smuggled out 18 pucks.

‘GRAZING’ HAZARD

KNOXVILLE, TENN. — Fired after drinking her store’s orange juice, a diabetic employee has fought back — and won. Linda Atkins’ employers at the Maryville Dollar General store knew she was diabetic and needed to keep citrus handy to ward off hypoglycemic attacks. But when she took gulps from a bottle out of the store cooler in 2012, Atkins was dropped from the payroll for “grazing” — eating or drinking inventory without first paying for it, according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel. However, a U.S. judge ordered the store’s corporate owner, Dolgencorp, to pay US$250,000 in damages alongside nearly US$30,000 in back pay, ruling Atkins was discriminated against. While she kept insulin and juice in the break room, she wasn’t able to access it when working the cash alone — a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, the court rejected the notion managers acted maliciously, allowing the company to avoid punitive damages.

STRIPPED OF HIS JOB

ST. JOHN’S — A former Newfoundland radio announcer is defending a rogue tweet that cost him his job. Joel North released a lengthy podcast defending his comment insinuating a woman would get more online viewers by stripping rather than playing video games. North refused to apologize for his comment, saying it would be insulting to exotic dancers, many of who are self-employed entrepreneurs. The original tweet was directed at a woman who had invited her followers to watch a livestream of her playing a video game, according to the Toronto Star. North, then employed by Coast 101.1 in St. John’s, responded: “You’d get more viewers if you were stripping.” Social media backlash cost him his job. “The idea of somebody losing their entire livelihood over a harmless joke sets a very dangerous precedent. Free speech is something we all need to fight for,” said North in his podcast.

LOSING THEIR SHIRTS

BOBIGNY, FRANCE — A group of Air France workers has gone on trial for a violent incident that left two executives shirtless and fleeing over a fence. The episode was caught on camera during a union protest at the airline’s headquarters last year, according to the Associated Press. Five former employees face fines and jail time, while 10 current workers face charges of property damage. After thousands of job cuts were announced, the group broke through a gate and scuffled with the managers, both of whom were manhandled. One was left with only the tie around his neck and a piece of sleeve on his wrist while the other saw both his shirt and suit jacket shredded.

ODOUR ETIQUETTE

JAPAN — Smelly employees in Japan earned some professional help  recently courtesy of an “odour etiquette” seminar. Forty employees from mobile phone company SoftBank took part in a session aimed at stemming the tide of “smell harassment.” A deodorant maker gave lessons on how to stay fresh and avoid workplace bullying and customer complaints, according to the Mirror. Topics discussed included armpit smells, bad breath, cigarette stench and overuse of cologne or perfume. One company even addressed the issue in a workplace manual, calling for employees to brush their teeth after breaks, refrain from using scents and avoid strong-smelling foods.

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