By Dónall Breen - 28 September 2018
Every month we take a look at the weird and wonderful employment law news from around the world, with a tongue in cheek assessment of what has kept our fellow workplace lawyers busy
We start this week with the mantra – if you’ve got it, flaunt it.
Or not, if you’re in charge of a school. A kindergarten principal in China has been fired after she organised a pole dancing performance to welcome children at the start of the year. Yes, you read that right. Like a thief operating in a multi-storey car park it was wrong on so many levels. The teacher explained the bizarre performance by saying it was ‘international’. The only thing international about what happened was how to define ‘gross misconduct’ in any language. Well, unless you run a lap dancing club of course*.
Also counting towards unacceptable explicit behaviour is throwing sordid adult parties – at work. Two employees of an American housing authority have been suspended following allegations of sex parties being organised at a public housing development. Hilariously, the two employees claimed overtime for the hours the parties took place which made this author snort with laugher thinking about how that eventuality may be closed off in the next iteration of their overtime policy: “Employees are not permitted to claim for overtime whilst having friends over for Netflix and Chill”.
Unable to have some chill is an Ohio deli counter attendant. The supermarket employee was fired after stealing almost $10,000 worth of salami. After speaking with some underground butchers, we calculated that this amount of meat pans out to be munching down on about 5 slices of the good stuff, every day, for about 8 years. That’s not stealing, that’s a serious addiction. His lawyer has reported that the employee is cooperating and is currently going cold turkey.
Certainly getting a cold reception is the Irish employer who posted an ad on one of Ireland’s largest recruitment sites stating that the job was not suitable for people “with young children”. The unnamed recruitment manager, who sprang from the womb a fully functional adult with no need for care, clearly forgot that we have moved past the era where parents of young children are unable to earn a living. I would bet my (non-existent) house that a man with young children would probably have no problem passing the requirement barrier however.
One man who did fail to please his employer was the airline attendant who was fired due to his man-bun. For those not familiar with the hairstyle, enter any trendy London pub and observe the males rocking long hair, tied up in a twist on the top of their head, sipping a microbrewery beer and telling their friends that they just ‘don’t get it’. The employee’s hairstyle didn’t take off with management and the worker was grounded until further notice.
Also not popular with management are two of South Korea’s pop idols, HyunA and E’Dawn, who were fired by their management company – for publicly declaring their relationship. When this author investigated the story a little further it opened up a whole world of strangeness about the K-Pop scene. Apparently “no dating” clauses were once common in the contracts of young K-pop stars. Managers claimed that publicly-disclosed romances would undermine their idols’ allure and careers. Avoiding romantic relationships, or at least keeping them secret, remains an unspoken rule. To be clear, GQ|Littler does not require ‘no dating’ in their standard employment agreement.
What we usually do insist on is a good reference. Usually from the most recent employer. Not from an employer a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. In a story that defies belief, a prospective pilot put down Jabba the Hutt as a refence on his CV. Whilst usually these stories originate from some whacky US backwater, it was the poor Birmingham employment tribunal who had to deal with this case of the aspiring X-Wing fighter. The rebel candidate had on his application a contact “purported to be from Desilijic Tiure”, an alternative name for Star Wars villain Jabba the Hutt. The employing airline succeed in their counterclaim for recuperation of training costs – after which I hope their counsel turned to the claimant and stated, I am your lawyer.
So there you have it, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Dirty dancing in the class room and the Death Star in Birmingham, it all goes down in the employment law world. If you have any issues with the factual accuracy of this article, please contact my nominated reference: Bruce Wayne, Bat Mansion, Gotham.
And finally…the eagle-eyed amongst you may notice that this newsletter has had a refresh and also that we have a lovely new website. It’s more mobile-friendly and reflects the evolution of our branding to GQ|Littler – let us know if you like it. (Or even if you don’t – we’re very open to constructive criticism!) We’ve also updated all our email addresses; the old ones still work but if you want to update your address book, you can find all our contact details here.
*For the nerdy employment lawyers reading this, you will recall the Stringfellows employment status case had no indication that the claimant was acting inappropriately at work.