The weird workplace

Arresting absenteeism; Reading between the lines; It's more than just 'Ho, ho, ho'; Prowling for Pokemon; Cross-ed out in Texas

Arresting absenteeism 
BOSCOTRECASE, ITALY — Employers have always struggled with employee absenteeism, but one Italian town is taking a particularly hard-nosed approach with problem workers. The mayor of Boscotrecase had to shut down most municipal offices after police arrested 23 of his staff for fraud against the state, according to Reuters. A lengthy investigation had revealed 200 cases of absenteeism involving 30 people. Staff were filmed doing personal business on company time and using multiple swipe cards to clock in absent colleagues. One man was seen trying to tamper with a security camera and then put a cardboard box on his head to hide his identity before swiping two cards. “I’ll probably have to shut down the town hall,” said recently elected mayor Pietro Carotenuto. The workers have been suspended from work for six to 12 months and could face dismissal.

Reading between the lines
KITCHENER, ONT. — A rejection letter has landed a financial company in Kitchener, Ont., in hot water after the applicant filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. Jama Hagi-Yusuf applied to a posting for an investment advisor’s assistant, according to the CBC, but the response from Sandy Matheson of Integral Wealth Securities shocked the University of Waterloo science grad: “I have read stories about how Somalia has a culture of resistance to authority. Such a culture would be quite different than the Canadian culture (which) sees... cutting ahead in a lineup as a great social error. The investment industry is a subculture with its own rules and traditions. It is normal for people to train for entry into this field. While your academic career suggests the training would be well within your competence, there is no demonstrated enthusiasm in past experience for entering this subculture. Due to lack of background, I must decline your application.” Matheson later said he was trying to be helpful and Hagi-Yusuf’s background did not factor into his decision and he mentioned Somali culture because he had recently read an article in a newspaper so it was top of mind. But Hagi-Yusuf, who was born in Toronto and has refugee parents, said he wants an apology.

It's more than just 'Ho, ho, ho'
COPENHAGEN — Christmas is more than four months away but Santas from the world got together recently at the annual World Santa Claus Congress in Copenhagen. The three-day event — which has run since 1957 — saw 140 of the jolly fellows from 12 countries gathered in the Danish capital, according to Reuters. Attendees take the opportunity to discuss issues concerning their job, such as presents and weight regulations. “A successful Santa is not just about the costumes and the clothes. You have to have Christmas in your heart. You have to have the love of children and caring and giving in your heart to be a really successful Santa and it’s not something you can make up. It has to be in you and people know, they can see it,” said one Canadian Santa. 

Prowling for Pokemon
MINATITLAN, MEXICO — The craze surrounding the new game app Pokemon GO has inspired a taxi driver in the Mexican state of Veracruz to offer his services as a “Pokemon hunter.” To play the augmented reality mobile phone game, players must physically move around to capture characters. So 29-year-old Emilio Cacho drives customers around in search of the colourful creatures, according to Reuters, and he has received many calls since his offer. “I didn’t know about the game but I heard a lot of talk about people going out to look for (Pokemon), so I thought it was a good way to make money, now that the economic situation in Veracruz is so difficult,” he said. The driver charges 130 pesos ($9.20) for the first hour to pursue Pokemon, then 100 pesos for each subsequent hour.

Cross-ed out in Texas
AUSTIN, TEXAS — Images of the cross have been removed from police cars in Brewster County, Texas, after a group promoting the separation of church and state said they amounted to unconstitutional local government promotion of Christianity, according to Reuters. Texas governor Greg Abbott had defended the right to display a cross with a horizontal thin blue line on the vehicles: “In addition to its religious significance, the cross has a long history in America and elsewhere as a symbol of service and sacrifice.” And Brewster County sheriff Ronny Dodson said the crosses were for “God’s protection over his deputies.” But “political, religious, commercial or personal” phrases or signs on county-owned property are now banned because of the settlement with the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

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