Feeds

'Boss from hell' knuckle-rapped for 'firing contests'

Crossing the line between motivation and harassment

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Not all thankless jobs are in IT. In the American heartland, a court has sided with the ex-employees of one businessman who held "firing contests", in which he offered cash prizes to staffers asked to predict which unfortunate worker was next to face his wrath.

"This guy was the boss from hell. He treated pretty much all of us like dirt," one victim of William Ernst, owner of the small Midwestern convenience-store chain QC Mart, told The Des Moines Register."

Ernst's fun li'l motivational scheme, detailed in a memo sent to employees entitled "New Contest – Guess The Next Cashier Who Will Be Fired!!!", told employees that he'd be sending spies – "secret shoppers", as they're known in the trade – around to his convenience stores to root out employees who were not abiding by Ernst's rules, such as his prohibition of hats.

Employees were encouraged to write down the name of the employee they thought would next be snared in Ernst's trap, and seal that prediction in an envelope. After the next firing, Ernst would open the envelopes and the lucky winner would receive a princely $10.

"And no fair picking Mike Miller from (the Rockingham Road store)," Ernst wrote. "He was fired at around 11:30 a.m. today for wearing a hat and talking on his cell phone. Good luck!!!!!!!!!!"

After receiving the memo, several employees at one convenience store decided they had had enough of Ernst, and quit. When they applied for unemployment benefits, Ernst contested the claim, saying that since the resignations were voluntary, unemployment was not justified.

Judge Susan Ackerman, however, sided with the employees, calling the contest "egregious and deplorable." In her ruling, she declared that "The employer's actions have clearly created a hostile work environment by suggesting its employees turn on each other for a minimal monetary prize," Ackerman ruled. "This was an intolerable and detrimental work environment."

One commenter to the Des Moines Register story asked, quite logically, "Do I win a prize for guessing that Mr. Ernst will be the next person to be fired?" ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.