The Weird Workplace

New feature looks at quirky, unusual and entertaining workplace stories

7 minutes of work, $2,000 payday

MORRISTOWN, N.J. — The first day on the job usually involves a bit of orientation and training. But one new Dunkin’ Donuts employee in New Jersey opted to spend his first day a little bit differently — he stole US$2,000, according to After the owner of the franchise noticed two wads of bills missing from a drawer, he checked the surveillance video. It allegedly showed the newly hired 26-year-old worker pocketing the dough after being in the store for only seven minutes. According to a police report, the worker showed up for the job, hung up his jacket and, a few minutes later, left the restaurant, telling the owner he’d finish his training online.

‘You work too hard, You’re fired.’

MISSISSAUGA, ONT. — There are plenty of actions that may justify the termination of the employment relationship — theft, incompetence, laziness. But none of those reasons were cited in the termination of a Banana Republic worker in Ontario. Her crime? Working through her breaks, according to the Toronto Star. -+ more than $900,000 in merchandise in 2010, was disciplined for working off the clock and subsequently fired. Her final warning had instructed her to “go on break when instructed to do so and stay off the sales floor.”

Employer sets up food bank – for staff

PITTSBURGH — Some non-medical employees at UPMC, a hospital run in affiliation with the University of Pittsburgh, have been attempting to unionize and complained publicly about their low wages. Some workers even said they need to regularly rely on food banks. One such worker, Leslie Poston, told the Pittsburgh City Paper that, two days before Thanksgiving, her unit director came up to her and said, “We’ve been hearing what you’ve been saying.” The director then allegedly pulled out a flyer and said, “We’re starting a food bank for the employees.” Susan Manko, a spokesperson for the hospital, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the food pantry idea was started by employees at another campus and staff decided to expand it to additional locations. “It’s unfortunate… that no good deed goes unpunished by those promoting other agendas,” she said. “The food pantry… has nothing to do with their wages.” A hospital newsletter encouraged employees to donate to the food bank to demonstrate “our caring and compassion for our patients, families and the colleagues we work with every day.” But some employees were upset about the move, said Poston. “We would like to purchase our own food. It’s just the fact that UPMC doesn’t get what they’re doing to their employees and the community.”

French tire of U.S. wheel titan

PARIS — The stereotypical work ethics of the United States and France clashed in the headlines after a right-wing American CEO slammed French workers and a left-wing government official fired back. Maurice Taylor — who goes by the nickname “the Grizz” and is CEO of tire firm Titan International — wrote a letter to Arnaud Montebourg, France’s industry minister, in which he said he had zero interest in buying a doomed tire plant in France because “the French workforce gets paid high wages but works only three hours. They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three… how stupid do you think we are?” Instead, the Grizz said he would buy a Chinese or Indian tire company, pay less than one euro per hour in wages and ship France all the tires it needs. Montebourg’s response? “Can I remind you that Titan, the business you run, is 20 times smaller than Michelin, the French (tire) technology leader… and 35 times less profitable.” Many economists blame France’s rigid hiring and firing laws and its 35-hour workweek for an industrial decline.

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