My office…

Frankly my dear – Employee gets fired for eating a hot dog. Seriously.

After its Fourth of July barbecue an Indiana manager of a Dillard’s department store instructed employees to store the unused hot dogs in the company freezer and save them for the Labor Day bash.

Nolan Koewler either didn’t hear the instructions or really wanted some hot dogs because he ate two of them. And because of that he was fired. reports:

The Little Rock-based chain fired Nolan Koewler of Evansville, Indiana, last July for stealing two hot dogs left over from his store’s holiday cookout.  Mike Marz, the Dillard’s dock manager who’d bought the food on a company credit card, ordered that the leftovers be stored in the break room freezer until Labor Day. But Koewler claimed he never heard those instructions—or, in legalese, “rescission of this offer of celebratory food”—and the day after the party, took and ate two hot dogs. Marz reviewed security camera footage, which caught Koewler, and so Marz took the issue to the store manager.  With surveillance video proof of Koewler’s so-called theft, the manager summoned the police.

He summoned the police??? Over TWO HOT DOGS? Harsh – like maybe we’ve got a manager with a god complex who loves reminding everyone who’s boss…over the hot dogs – harsh. In foolishness fairness, the manager did offer Koewler two options – either sign a statement admitting he stole the hot dogs or spend the night in jail. Koewler refused to sign and apparently that’s when the cops were called.

It gets even more interesting. And stupid.

Koewler applied for unemployment benefits (which I didn’t think you could do if you’d been fired) and Dillard’s denied his claim.

Koewler appealed and an Indiana unemployment claims deputy sided with him, determining he had not been discharged for just cause.

Dillard’s appealed and the decision was reversed.

Koewler appealed that decision and the frank-burglar case went all the way to Indiana’s Court of Appeals which found no evidence that Koewler ever heard the “hands off the hot dogs” instructions and that Dillard’s was unjustified in firing him.

Koewler can now receive unemployment benefits. He will never eat another hot dog as long as he lives.

Side note: How embarrassed would you be to admit you’d been fired for eating hot dogs?

Read the full story here.

The five bad bosses I’ll never forget: The Glory Hound

The Bad Boss Glory HoundLast week I began the series, The five bad bosses I’ll never forget. This week I’ll conclude by discussing The Glory Hound, The Going Through the Motions Bad Boss and my all time, least favorite, The Absolutely- bat crazy- Bad Boss.

My trip down memory lane began last week with the Powerless Power-trippers I was unfortunate enough to work for during my stint with the government. Any business that rewards longevity over efficiency and productivity is destined to churn out a slew of really bad bosses. As far as I’m concerned, governments hold the record in this area.

Then there were the WOTH – Way Over Their Heads, aka Clueless. My former head of HR, and bad boss, was a card carrying member of the WOTHs and belonged to the most powerful chapter – the chapter that holds advanced degrees. Armed with her degree of “questionable origin”, she was allowed to wreak havoc on the entire staff for years before finally being terminated (fired not destroyed.)

Today I’m introducing you to The Glory Hound. The Glory Hound while found with great frequency in the government, can be found almost anywhere there’s work to do and glory to be stolen. In my case, after working for months on a major team project, with very little support and/or guidance, the evening finally came when district awards were being given. Our entire team was forced to be sitting together when our category was named. No sooner had our division’s name left the lips of the award presenter that my boss flew out of her chair and hurled herself toward the stage. When it was time for the photo op, she was front and center while I teetered on the edge of the narrow stage.

When the event was over and we’d all returned to the office the following week, the announcement was made that we’d won the award, and that the trophy would be on display in her office. No mention was ever made of my efforts – not once. By definition, Glory Hounds won’t acknowledge your efforts and they won’t share the stage. Ever. And, if they’re really bad they won’t even thank you in private. My glory hound never did, and I’m sure she never will.

Tomorrow: The – Just Going Through The Motions Bad Boss

The Really Bad Boss Blog Roundup

really bad boss blog roundupWhat the blogosphere’s saying about bosses this week…

Exploitation or deportation – which would you choose? An editorial in The New York Times discusses the awful options some immigrant guest workers are faced with when working for a bad boss.

How not to buy into the brainwashing and get over your bad boss blues. The column’s advice, “the sooner you can let go of the anger and resentment, the better shape your head will be in.” We couldn’t agree more.

Interesting take on the whole bailout, accounting scandal fiasco.  The article in FINS, part of the Wall Street Journal’s digital network, suggests that authoritarian bosses who demand total submission from employees mired in bureaucracy might be at the root of the problem.

When lunch becomes the highlight of your day – a funny rant on the blog, Living Dilbert, about how bad bosses cause carb cravings. I can relate!

Women MBAs make less right out of school than their male counterparts, and are more likely to leave their first jobs because of a bad boss. Research conducted by Nancy Carter and Christine Silva of Catalyst, found that women leaving first jobs were averaging $4,600 lower pay than male counterparts. And because subsequent jobs are usually tied to the salary held at a previous position, the pay gap continues to widen from there. Read a great article on the topic at Clear Admit’s blog.

Ten things employers do that drive job seekers crazy

CNN Money ran a story Wednesday about five ways companies mistreat job seekers.  CNN’s five include: 1) Not respecting candidates’ time, 2) not sharing their hiring timeline, 3) asking for the candidate’s salary range without revealing theirs, 4) misrepresenting the job and 5) not letting candidates know when they’re no longer under consideration.

We agree, and we’d like to add our own five things employers do that drive job seekers crazy:

  1. Lying about the company’s turnover rate – I’ve been in a couple of interviews where upon inquiring about the company’s turnover rate, was told “it’s very low.” It was only after being hired that I learned that in some HR circles, “it’s very low” is code for “tell them whatever you need to to get them to stay.”  I was even kept in the dark about a notorious really bad boss who’d had every single direct report in the prior three years walk out on her.  Welcome to your new job.
  2. Lying about the potential for advancement– Nothing’s worse than taking a lower paying position with less responsibility based on the promise of future growth, only to learn after you’ve started working, that growth at your new company, much like the existence of unicorns, is a myth. Not only are you reminded daily about the deception, but until you find another job, you’re stuck in a dead end position that doesn’t fully utilize your skills and abilities.  Talk about frustrating.
  3. Misrepresenting future plans for the company – This is a little tricky since employers have to hold some information close to the vest, but I’ve heard stories of employees being hired, only to be told less than six months later that the company is being relocated out of the state. Not cool.
  4. Compensation, compensation, compensation – I understand it’s up to the job seeker to effectively negotiate salary. But time and time again, situations occur where even after being told point blank that the budget for a position tops out at a certain dollar amount - in essence take it or leave it - employees learn that someone else in the same position with similar experience (or less), is making much more than they are. 
  5. Painting a much rosier picture of a company than what actually exists – It’s like going on a phenomenal first date, only to learn later that your knight in shining armor is a cretin. On parole. Who lives with his mother.  Yes, the reality of some companies can be that bad. Trust me, I speak from experience.  Most of us would end it with the cretin right away.  Not so easy with a job.  While the cretin isn’t paying you (we hope), your job is. 

Unfortunately for many of us, particularly in this economy, turning down job offers, even when we sense we’re climbing into the lion’s den isn’t an option.  So for that reason alone, we ask employers to be more honest with their candidates.  After all, don’t they expect honesty from us?

Pantyhose wars – Page 378 of the Really Bad Boss Manual

Retro hose

Retro hose

The other day I promised to provide details regarding the frequent pantyhose inspections that took place at my former job.  Long since paroled  resigned from that position, today, shamefaced and humiliated, I’ll briefly summarize how a master degreed professional was reduced to a work life replete with fearful sick leave taking, snack sneaking, and pantyhose wars. 

In the same office where employees were subject to human voice analysis for sick day legitimacy and where random trashcan inspections were elevated to an art form, monitoring female employees for pantyhose wearage (no, it’s not a real word) was a priority.  I know what you’re thinking.  How is it possible that all that Really Bad Boss talent was concentrated in one office?  Implausible as it may seem, it’s true.  If there’s a management guide on how to demoralize employees, lose their trust and respect, and cause heat stroke, these managers read it, perfected it and then submitted tips on how to improve it.  And on page 378 is an entry that reads something like this “Failure of subordinates to wear pantyhose will cause the total and complete meltdown of the system, resulting in a shifting of the earth on it axis.”  I’ve never had access to the manual, but page 378 must have been dire to elicit the kind of fervent adherence to pantyhose wearage displayed by management.

The irony of the whole thing is that in their eyes, wearing pantyhose epitomized professionalism.  In their minds, clients would overlook the worn carpets and drab office walls.  They’d tolerate long wait times, antiquated office machinery and incomplete and incorrect answers to their questions.  But what they would not tolerate is the sight of stocking-less legs.  We disagreed, but unable to openly defy the establishment, the bravest among us skirted the issue (pun intended) by wearing pants even in the middle of summer.  And thus, the pantyhose wars began.  As with most wars, there were no clear winners.  Management was left with an angry, demoralized staff, and the pants wearers, well, we were just hot.

There’s Something about Mary…and none of it is good

When good HR goes bad – Absolutely unbelievable Mary – Part 2

Yesterday I introduced you to Mary, the unbelievably clueless HR Manager and really bad boss at one of my previous jobs. So you could be sure I wasn’t making it up, I promised to give you details of a couple of Mary’s finer moments including her inability to hire good people, her addiction to potluck luncheons and her two week maternity leave policy. Without further ado:

She demonstrated a complete and utter inability to find, hire and keep good talent - Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t one of the hallmarks of good HR Management the ability to find and keep the right people? If that’s true, yet your company remains a revolving door of people and positions, doesn’t that mean there’s something seriously amiss in HR? Can every candidate be so misleading during the interview process that you completely miss the warning signs that within their first week at work, they’ll call out sick, ask several coworkers “how long before you can request vacation time?” and steal food from the refrigerator?  The problem was that Mary had a habit of posting positions, bringing in one or two candidates to interview and praying that the one without the felony would excel in the interview.  I’m exaggerating slightly – very slightly – but, the obvious problem with that is, you end up hiring the best of the worst.  In another case, we sensed something was awry with one of the managers she’d just hired (the 3rd person in that position in about 2 years) when after only about a week, he kept falling asleep during meetings.  He was gone in just under three months, and so was the manager (again, one of two people interviewed) that followed him. 

She was determined to solve all the company’s problems with potluck luncheons - I liken it to roasting marshmallows on a camping trip while the forest is burning down around you.  In Mary’s case she wasn’t roasting marshmallows; she was planning monthly potluck luncheons.  Read the rest of this entry »

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