Weird Workplace

Caught in the act; Flying drug-free class; A new kind of union; Dancing tea cake looks healthy; Selfies reveal whole new side of government

A new kind of union

NEW YORK — Costumed superheroes are fighting back — characters who pose for tourist photos in New York’s Times Square looking for a cash tip have formed an association to preserve their livelihood, according to Reuters. Dozens of people dressed as Spider-Man, Batman, Elmo or Mickey Mouse have been accused of harassing visitors, and police have arrested several performers in recent months, while telling tourists to call 911 with any complaints. So the Association of Artists United for a Smile is fighting back, said Yamil Morales, one of the organizers for the group, which has more than 100 characters as members. "We’re people who want to be treated as workers with dignity and not be treated as cartoon characters just because we wear a mask." Morales, a Colombian living in New York City who dresses up as the Penguin, says he and Batman came up with the idea.

Caught in the act

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In a case of life imitating art, a TV news anchor has been charged with grand theft and burglary over the alleged theft of US$2,500 worth of wallets from a high-end retailer. Sabrina Rodriguez was charged in connection with a 2013 incident in which merchandise was stolen from a Coach outlet store, according to Reuters. While she claimed innocence, publicity about the case — including a story on a rival station pointing out that Rodriguez had actually done a story on how easy it was to shoplift high-end wallets — led to the reporter and morning news anchor resigning. It’s unclear whether Rodriguez did any newscasts on prison breaks.

Flying drug-free class

SYDNEY – Some employees go above and beyond the call of duty, with unintended consequences. When a crew member on Australian airline Jetstar found out sniffer dogs and quarantine officers were on standby in Sydney, she told passengers on a flight from the Gold Coast tourist strip — including some returning from a popular music festival — to flush away "anything you shouldn’t have." The announcement, made over the plane’s PA system, prompted a rush to the plane’s toilets, according to Reuters, citing News Ltd. The flight attendant took a routine announcement about Australia’s strict quarantine regulations, which include some plant and fruit materials, and went too far, said Jetstar, owned by Qantas Airways: "The crew member’s words were poorly chosen and are plainly at odds with the professional standards we’d expect from our team." But there were probably more than a few happy passengers who left that plane.

Dancing tea cake looks healthy

GLASGOW — Keen to take part in the Commonwealth Games, a daycare worker may have taken that enthusiasm a little too far and forgotten about the TV audience of 9.4 million viewers. Amy McIntosh had been signed off sick from work for several weeks when her bosses caught her on TV dancing as a giant Tunnock’s tea cake during the celebrations in Glasgow, said the Daily Mail. The 25-year-old had signed up to be a volunteer but did not ask for time off for rehearsals, which began three weeks earlier — and she may now lose her job. "We couldn’t believe it when we saw her," said a source at Woodlands Day Nursery. "(McIntosh) was playing the system by taking time off and getting sick pay as well. She was letting the whole team down." The source said McIntosh would have been allowed to take part in the opening ceremony, if only she had asked. "If she came to us, we would have let her have time off. We are very much for the Commonwealth, very much for Scotland." It’s rumoured tea cakes will no longer be served at the nursery.

Selfies reveal whole new side of government

ZURICH — It seems innocent enough: Take some nude selfies at your place of employment and post them on your Twitter account for 11,000 followers to see. At least that’s what a secretary at the Swiss Parliament must have thought when she took the pics at her office in the Federal Palace, a 162-year-old domed building in Berne where government and Parliament meet, according to Reuters, citing Swiss daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung. The secretary did not believe she had broken any rules and said the pictures did not violate the guidelines for federal employees because they were part of her private life. But HR wasn’t so sure: "Parliamentary services will have to decide, based on the specific circumstances, whether this case breaches good faith obligations between employer and employee," said Anand Jagtap, a spokesman for the government’s HR department. Perhaps a reconsideration of the dress code policy is in order.

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