10 people fired for bad reasons

Thursday February 2, 2017

Hiring and firing can be a tricky business. Getting the right staff and keeping them is of utmost importance to the success of your company. Naturally there are many legitimate reasons that you may wish to exit an employee from the business. And by following correct procedure (and taking advice from The HR Dept of course) you can achieve this without ending up in the papers or worse! Too often getting it wrong can land employers in hot water with their customers, the public or the courts.

Here are 10 unfortunate people who were sacked for the wrong reasons, and a matching 10 employers who have ended up with red faces or a huge bill.

1. For being too nice

Ralph Body was dismissed from his job at an apartment building in New York after offering to do tasks for the people who lived there. His role was to hold the door to allow residents in and out of the building.  However, he checked on pets, watered plants and would even show potential tenants around. Residents are up in arms that he has been let go for going the extra mile.

2. For tackling crime

An employee at the Christmas Tree Shops in Salem saw someone shoplifting, so she went after them, chasing them out into the street. The shop dismissed her but their customers are none too pleased!

3. For being too gay

An award winning teacher in Oregon was sacked for being too gay, too often! Brett Bigham says he was told to stop speaking or writing about being gay and it was demanded he receive the board’s approval before making any statements. They threatened to fire him more than thirty times.  Needless to say there is public outcry and a twitter campaign to support his reinstatement.

4. For talking about living on the minimum wage

Shanna Tippen took part in a feature in which she said the coming minimum wage hike would bring her a bit of financial relief, but it wouldn’t lift her above the poverty line.  After the story came out, she says she was fired from her job for talking to the press. A number of campaigning websites have picked up on this and are making their views known to the company en masse.

5. For rescuing animals

Todd Sutton a San Francisco carpenter freed a trapped raccoon — and was subsequently fired for theft of the cage. The construction company hired animal control specialists to capture and kill the racoon, so were a little angry at Todd’s actions. Todd freed the racoon at another location and returned the cage, but still lost his job. He says he’d do it all over again and of course he got a lot of public support.

6. For union activity

Charlotte Munro a union leader sacked by Barts Health Trust, which runs Whipps Cross Hospital was reinstated after a two-year battle which was no doubt costly and distracting. ​

7. For being pregnant

Chanine Boulton was working at Canon in Sales when she had her daughter Layla in 2003. Everything seemed fine. But while she was away on maternity leave, Canon reorganised its sales force – without any consultation or communication. An Employment Tribunal found in her favour.

8. For being sexually harassed (and black)

Samantha Burmis was dismissed from Aylesford School. She had tried to report two colleagues for smoking drugs on a school trip where she was also sexually harassed. Her tribunal heard a fellow teacher told her she would progress in her career if she worked in a “more ethnically diverse school”. A very complicated and costly case which no doubt could have been avoided with good HR advice and support.

9. For whistleblowing

Jason Phur, was a mechanic who was unfairly sacked when he accused garage bosses of overcharging customers for unnecessary work. He was awarded £46,000 in compensation.

10. For working too hard

Jason Kellner, a former manager at Target in Alabama, claims he was let go after supervisors caught him “performing work activities” without being clocked in. However, he says he was routinely interrupted during his break at Target to handle any number of problems at the store and there was no other manager to deal with the issues. This case hit the headlines and generated negative publicity for the company.

As the saying goes, it takes years to build a reputation and minutes to destroy it! And with over 100,000 employment tribunal claims being lodged in 2013/14 with an average award of £12,000 can you really afford not to call The HR Dept?

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