The Weird Workplace

A collection of unusual and quirky stories from across Canada and around the world
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/29/2018
Robot Cat
Use of a robot cat has a B.C. after-care home in hot water. Credit: Palto (Shutterstock)

Not quite the same

DUNCAN, B.C. – An employer keen to use robotics may have been a little overzealous, judging by a recent incident at an after-care home. Apparently, staff at Sunridge Place in Duncan, B.C., decided to replace the beloved cat of resident Dawn Douglas with a robotic version — and her family is not happy. Douglas has dementia, and her family had been fighting to have the cat — Snoop — live with their mother, after providing the appropriate documentation, according to the Canadian Press. But within days of the reunion, Snoop was replaced by an automated version. So now the family is turning to the health authority, their local politician and even the RCMP to get answers. A spokesperson for Park Place Seniors Living, which operates Sunridge, said a staff member had a severe allergic reaction, plus residents are not allowed to have pets, so the cat had to be removed. But the family said the home took advantage of Douglas’ condition and their treatment of her amounts to elder abuse.

Robot recall

PASADENA, CALIF. — Flippy, a burger-flipping robot, has been taken offline. The spatula-fitted robot had been installed at a Cali Burger outlet in Pasadena, Calif., according to the BBC, but after just one day of work, it was turned off, apparently because the restaurant could not handle the extra orders that resulted with the new “worker.” The robot’s creator, Miso Robotics, said it was testing the controls to ensure Flippy could cook quickly enough. Cali staff were also being trained to work better with the robot, as they needed to “choreograph” their movements around the motions of the robot, according to Anthony Lomelino, head of technology at Cali Burger. The restaurant chain originally “hired” Flippy to get around recruiting, training and turnover challenges, it said, and eventually hopes to install the robots at up to 50 outlets.

Give me a break

JAPAN — There’s often an unspoken resentment felt by non-smokers when they see their smoking colleagues heading outdoors for a smoke break, yet again. So one Japanese company decided to do something about it, according to CNBC. After a non-smoking employee submitted a complaint about the smoke breaks affecting productivity, marketing firm Piala changed its paid time-off policy. Now, non-smoking staff can take an additional six days off per year to make up for the time smokers take for cigarette breaks. “I hope to encourage employees to quit smoking through incentives, rather than penalties or coercion,” said CEO Takao Asuka. And apparently it’s working — four of the company’s 42 employees have already given up their smoking habit.

Feeding time

PRESTON, IDAHO — A science teacher’s decision to feed a live puppy to a turtle at a high school in the small town of Preston, Idaho, was met with mixed reaction recently. After classes had finished, Robert Crosland apparently gave the ailing puppy to the snapping turtle. When word got out, one animal rights activist called it a “cut-and-dried case of animal cruelty” and filed a complaint with the sheriff’s department, which launched an investigation, according to the Los Angeles Times. But many locals praised the teacher, and said the incident was not traumatizing for kids. “My children work on farms, they understand life and death,” said one parent. The Preston School District called the feeding “regrettable” and said it was taking steps to ensure that kind of action didn’t happen again. “We hope any errors in judgment made by a teacher in this instance will not cause us to forget the years of care, effort and passion the teacher has given to students.”

Special deliveries

COLUMBUS, OHIO — A milk deliveryman was delivering much more than milk, apparently, during his visits to an Ohio prison. Ray Adams worked with an inmate at Lebanon Correctional Facility to facilitate the smuggling  of marijuana, tobacco and cellphones inside half-pint milk cartons, according to the Associated Press. Fifty-year-old Adams made thousands of dollars sneaking the items into the facility over time, according to the county prosecutor, but was arrested and charged in January. It’s a very sad situation, according to Doug Longenette, director of HR at United Dairy, who said the family-owned business would never condone such activity.

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