Everyone knows someone who has been laid off during this economic downturn, but how many of you know someone who was laid off for something as ludicrous as having a food fight at work, or waving a gun around? Here is our list of dumb mistakes people made that got them fired, and the occasional overreaction by their employers. Some of these will strike you as obvious things not to do at work, others may surprise you. Just remember, don’t do any of the things on this list, unless, of course, you really want to get fired from your current job.
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Earlier last year, a police chief in a small Kansas town was fired for stealing beer from the fire department’s refrigerator (the police and firemen share a building.) This is certainly a pretty lousy reason to get canned. Just imagine explaining in future job interviews that you were fired for stealing alcohol. Not only are you a thief, but a drunk to boot. One question that we have is why the beer was in the fire department to begin with? It seems like a few other people should have been fired, too. See the next slide.
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Last year, the Washington Post fired one of its football bloggers over a picture online that showed the journalist drunk at a party. This is pretty strange considering the party in question had nothing to do with work and the picture was two years old. On top of that, the picture did not show the man doing anything particularly embarrassing (unlike, say, when Obama’s speechwriter was shown groping a cut-out of his soon-to-be coworker Hillary Clinton at a party.) Still, the Post argued that this brought “discredit to the paper.”
Of course, this isn’t so much of a problem if you live in Peru. The country’s Supreme Court ruled that employees cannot be fired for drinking on the job.
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Everyone is late to work once in a while. Usually, your employer will understand as long as it doesn’t happen too often and you try to contact them as soon as you know you’ll be late. But one man had an unbelievable experience with his employer. Earlier this year, Shawn Felix told ABC how he was fired shortly after returning from having hip surgery. “I was on crutches and the place that I was working only had steps (no ramp) to get into the front of the building. I was running late because I had difficulty getting in and out of the shower. They fired me because I was eight minutes late to work.” Just to reiterate, a man on crutches was fired for being 8 minutes late to work.
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Firedworkers.com compiles real life stories of how people got axed from their jobs. One of our favorites involves a food fight at a fast food restaurant that went horribly wrong. “[T]wo of my friends from work at a burger king were getting in a lot of fights…. [M]y friend on the register, let’s call him frank, was taking an order. [M]y friend [sic] in the kitchen, let’s call him bob, was behind him with a piece [sic] of cheese. [B]ob threw the cheese at frank as he leaned over to get some bbq sauce from under the counter and hit the customer right in the face. [T]hey were both fired.” Moral of the story: leave the food fights at home.
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A 911 operator in Nashville was fired for cursing at a woman on the phone. Unfortunately, I don’t want to get fired for cursing while writing an article about getting fired, so I’ll just let you click the link and find out what he said (it involves the S-word.) We certainly agree that the man deserved to get fired. If there’s one job where you shouldn’t be allowed to curse no matter how upset you are, it’s working as an emergency operator because the people you are on the phone with are dealing with some serious S-word of their own.
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Facebook, Facebook, Facebook
There are more stories than we can count of employees being laid off for something they said or did on Facebook and other social networking sites. We don’t agree that all of these warranted that punishment, but at this point, we should all know better than to do anything controversial on these sites. Two particularly bad stories from recent times are a teenage girl getting fired from her marketing job for calling it boring on Facebook and another woman who was fired just for using Facebook on her sick day (apparently, she had told her employers that she needed time off away from her computer monitor.)
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Edward Greenwood IX worked as an assistant in New York City’s lobbying office for six years until one day in 2006, Mayor Bloomberg happened to walk by and see that Greenwood was playing solitaire on his computer. He was promptly fired and denied any severance pay. We don’t know what’s worse, getting fired by the mayor or getting fired for playing solitaire. Maybe if it were Bejeweled, it would be okay.
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We all know that kids text a lot these days, in school and yes, even at work. But when an adult gets caught texting, it still seems surprising, especially when that adult happens to be a judge. Danielle Gregory lost her job because she was caught texting during a trial. Among the text messages she sent were three pictures of herself. Really? When your entire job is to listen to cases, it doesn’t seem like too much to expect that you don’t spend most of the time taking pictures of yourself.
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Bring A Gun to Work Day
Last year, a security guard was fired after bringing a gun to work… at Disney World. Apparently, Florida had recently instated a new law that gave people permission to take their guns to work, but Disney specially stated the rules did not apply on its property. We are not going to argue the second amendment issue here, but let’s just say it seems pretty dumb to make your stand over firearms at Disney World. Though, in the guy’s defense, the gun was in the guy’s locked car, in the Disney parking lot. Wonder what would have happened had he worked at Nascar instead.
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Some people just shouldn’t try to be funny. John Preston joined his coworkers at an outdoor retreat hosted by their employer, the Brain Injury Association. Apparently, one of his female colleagues mentioned a Seinfeld joke that she and her husband copied from time to time. Anytime she or her husband would sneeze, the other would reply, “You are so good looking.” Innocent enough between a wife and husband, but when Preston kept repeating this line for weeks after to the woman who told him about the joke, he was reprimanded and eventually fired.
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In the Middle of Surgery
Earlier this year, one nurse in Wisconsin was in the middle of performing surgery when a manager called her out of the room and told her she’d lost her job. She may have been let go as part of a larger series of layoffs, but this is one example where the way someone was fired is more absurd than the reason behind it. As it turns out, it is against medical protocol to summon a nurse in the middle of the surgery.
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When your company says don’t use e-mail for personal reason, don’t do it. Several PNC Bank employees found this out first hand when they sent jokes and chain letters through their work e-mail accounts. But that’s nothing compared to the New Zealand woman who was fired in September for typing her e-mails ENTIRELY IN CAPITAL LETTERS. She also apparently frequently used red font and bold letters. Apparently, this offended her employers gentle dispositions.
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Being A Good Samaritan
One waiter in Fort Lauderdale was fired after he left in the middle of his shift to help rescue a woman getting attacked by an armed carjacker. In a similar case earlier this year, a security guard at Wal-Mart claimed he was fired for chasing a shoplifter. According to a response from Wal-Mart, “There are specific instructions as to what an associate can and can’t do during a shoplifting episode.” So instead of a medal, both were handed pink slips.
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Too Fat to Work
One Ralph Lauren model was fired recently for being too fat. It’s strange enough that this could be a legitimate reason to fire someone, but it’s especially bad when you realize that the woman in question weighed 120 pounds. Unfortunately, she’s not the only person to beterminated for this reason. Check out MainStreet’s previous coverage of people punished for being overweight.
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