The Weird Workplace

A collection of unusual and quirky stories from across Canada and around the world
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 05/31/2018
Raccoon
A high school teacher has been placed on administrative leave with pay after a video surfaced showing him drowning a raccoon. Credit: Sonsedska Yuliia (Shutterstock)

Suspension after drowning

MARION COUNTY, FLA. – A high school teacher has been placed on administrative leave with pay after a video surfaced showing Dewie Brewton drowning “nuisance” animals during class. The agriculture teacher is seen dumping a raccoon in a metal cage into a large garbage bin filled with water. “We received statements that the teacher drowned multiple animals in front of students, and with student participation, because the animals were nuisance animals to the ag program at the school,” said Kevin Christian, spokesperson for Marion County Public Schools. Brewton was removed from class “pending the outcome of a district investigation,” said officials. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also said it was looking into the incident.

Humour with a message

KENSINGTON, P.E.I. – A small police force in Prince Edward Island is using humour and pop-culture references online to gain a wider audience — both nationally and internationally, according to the Canadian Press. A recent post by the Kensington Police Force on April 20 (known as Weed Day) was viewed by more than a 250,000 people. It showed a trap with snack foods and video games as the bait, and the caption: “Snowy and blustery out, but undercover #420 operations are all ready to roll out. Now we just sit and wait…” However, the force did run into trouble in late 2016 when it said drivers arrested for drinking and driving would be forced to listen to Canadian rock band Nickelback. That post had more than 23 million views.

Unwelcome eye spy

CALGARY – A recent initiative by WestJet to have customers review their in-flight service has not gone over well. The airline apparently asked frequent flyers to capture their experience through an app where they could type comments, snap a photo or record video, according to CBC. “The ask was aimed at understanding the elements of their journey that stood out and/or impressed them, as well as understanding where we can do better,” wrote a member of WestJet’s research and insights team. Union officials called the practice “unacceptable” and a violation of privacy rules, and WestJet said the program has since ended. But Marvin Ryder, an assistant professor of marketing at McMaster University, said it’s common for companies to solicit this kind of feedback. “Although I’ve not heard of this in the context of other airlines, what WestJet was asking people to do is not that unusual.”

‘Men preferred’

CHINA – Big tech companies in China were in the hot seat recently after a Human Rights Watch report highlighted discrimination in job advertising in the country, according to CNN. “Nearly one in five job ads for China’s 2018 national civil service called for ‘men only’ or ‘men preferred,’ while major companies like Alibaba have published recruitment ads promising applicants ‘beautiful girls’ as co-workers,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. In analyzing more than 36,000 job ads, Only Men Need Apply revealed sexist ads from Alibaba, Baidu, Huawei and Tencent. All of the companies named promised to make improvements, but China’s legal framework is also to blame, said the report: “The laws lack a clear definition of what constitutes gender discrimination, and provide few effective enforcement mechanisms... As a result, the level of enforcement is low and Chinese authorities rarely proactively investigate companies that repeatedly violate relevant laws.”

They're no Tom Cruise

ITALYBartenders beware: The cocktail bars on some Royal Caribbean cruise ships have been taken over by robots, according to the Daily Mail. The bionic arms sit on a countertop and can reach up to a variety of beverages hanging from the ceiling to make up to 30 different cocktails. They can mix up to two drinks per minute or 1,000 per day. Guests choose their drinks electronically from a tablet and can pick the flavours and spirits they prefer, along with a choice of muddled, stirred, shaken or strained. The orders for patrons are shown on-screen, with a time illustrating when their order will be ready. The cocktails then slide automatically towards customers at the Bionic Bar. The robots were developed by Makr Shakr in Torino, Italy, and their movements were modelled after a ballet dancer.

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