15 Unbelievable Reasons People Have Been Fired in the Past

19 Aug

We’ve all had that job where we felt our boss was out to get us. Thankfully, for most of us, that isn’t a problem. You don’t have to worry that your opinions on a sports team will get you fired. Unlike an unlucky bunch at a law firm in Florida, you can probably wear the color orange to work. Very conservative bosses have been known to fire people for political beliefs. A boss has been known to fire an employee for wearing a bathing suit and posting a picture of it online. Teachers tend to show up on a regular basis in the news because a parent saw something they objected to outside of school and complained. Customer complaints are serious to many workers because some bosses will fire you at the drop of a hat.

Some people bring on the firing themselves, thanks to blog or Facebook posts. Humorless bosses are a bane to people who enjoy doing things like making videos. Cheeky posts and videos aren’t really something that most of us are getting up in arms about. Then there are the people who take common sense, throw it in a closet, then burn the house down. Drinking on the job and sleeping on the job are, sadly, common ways to get yourself fired. The following situations, however, are nowhere near common.

1) Too Pretty
Melissa Nelson worked for dentist James Knight for a number of years. The two never had a romantic relationship and according to everyone, they were only professional acquaintances. So it came as a shock to Nelson when she was fired for being a “threat” to her boss’ marriage. Numerous news outlets quoted Nelson as being flabbergasted and confused. She had no interest in Knight.

In fact, no one even accused Nelson of flirting or trying to break up Knight’s marriage. In reality, her level of attraction to her boss didn’t matter at all. All that mattered is that Knight found her to be too attractive. If you’re trying to find a way that someone who is not interested in you could be a threat to your marriage, you may want to stop. It’s baffling to almost everyone. Considering most dental assistants wear scrubs, the matter is even more perplexing. What makes this particular case even more unusual is that the higher courts upheld that the firing was legal. All of the judges on the case were men.

2) Werewolf

In 2010, a man worked for a hardware store, moving pallets. He belonged to a group of people known online as “otherkin” or “therians.” This group of people believes that their souls are not human or that they are able to in some ways take the form of another creature. Most of the people within this community claim that they feel phantom limbs of their spiritual selves. Otherkin state that the feeling is similar to when a person loses a finger and feels as though the finger is still there. Some cases include people who claim to have phantom wings and tails that are so real to them they alter their clothing.

Others believe that they can shift into the creature they believe that they are. These shifts occur either at will or randomly. According to his own account of the situation, the worker felt a “mental shift” where he felt as though his brain had become that of a wolf.
The worker dropped to the floor and began walking on all fours. He continued to stalk around the pallets, snarling and grunting at his fellow employees. This continued for over half an hour before he stood up, clocked out, and went home.

When he was brought into the office the next day, he was promptly fired for his unusual behavior. Remarkably, he tried to explain that he was a wolf to his employer. The employer was unmoved by his claims and the firing stood. The employee stated on his blog that he would have to find a more tolerant workplace.

3) Being Pregnant

Catholic institutions are in the news a lot lately for strange hiring and firing practices. From people being unwilling to sign a statement of faith to having their partner’s name on a parent’s obituary, it seems that religious institutions are firing at will more often than other companies. Numerous teachers in Catholic high schools and elementary schools have complained in recent years that they were fired for being pregnant out of wedlock. Some women have even gone through in vitro to get pregnant and raise a child on their own. They still found themselves fired, according to numerous news sites.

What makes these cases so newsworthy is that the firings are apparently very targeted. Many teachers are divorced but not fired for that, even though the action is not permitted in a strict Catholic background. Further, the women in the situation are disproportionately punished for becoming pregnant. Sifting through numerous news reports, you will be hard pressed to find even one man who was fired for getting his significant other pregnant out of wedlock.

Even if the teacher has a good record and report with the students, they’ve been let go. It’s interesting to note that even if the teacher is seeing a coworker and they planned to have the child, it is almost always only the female teacher who is let go. The problem then is that a pregnant woman is without a job or insurance to help have her baby.

4) Facebook Arguments

You should know by now that your boss is on Facebook. He or she may even have you ‘friended’. Using filters is an excellent way to keep said boss from finding out that you may hate their guts. This is also true of your employees, if that applies. Even simple blowing off steam is a way to get pulled into the office and let go, as a collections manager in Columbus Ohio found out in 2006.

She had been having a very frustrating time with a new employee. Instead of yelling at the employee, she chose to vent about it after work on Facebook. Even though she didn’t use the employee’s name, another collections worker knew exactly who she was referring to.

Many privacy laws state that speaking about someone violates a right to privacy if the employee can be easily identified. Also, many workplaces require employees to sign a statement agreeing that they will not discuss any private work business on online blogging sites. Because of this, the manager was terminated. Even if you don’t use a name, as long as the person is easily identified, you shouldn’t talk about them on any social media site. This is doubly true if you’ve already signed a statement agreeing not to do so.

5) Drinking on the Job

It’s common knowledge that you shouldn’t drink on the job, particularly when your job involves heavy equipment. Sadly, being drunk on the job isn’t an unusual reason for getting fired. What Cory Neddermeyer did was to take drinking on the job to an entirely new level. The maintenance technician in Iowa drank spilled ethanol. Ethanol is a common agent in many fuels because the alcohol base is highly reactive. It is what gives gasoline its distinctive aroma.

Neddermeyer noticed some equipment leaking fuel. His site uses fuel that has an extremely high ethanol content. During his shift he became more and more curious to find out what would happen if he tried some. The curiosity overtook him and he helped himself to some of the fuel that was pooling on the floor. Neddermeyer claimed that the reason he couldn’t help himself was because he was a recovering alcoholic.

He drank enough to become intoxicated. The reason that it isn’t advised to drink fuel is that it’s chemical composition is made to break down into powerful bursts, making engines work. By the time his coworkers got Neddermeyer to the hospital, he had a blood alcohol content of .72, a level that could have potentially been fatal. He lost his lawsuit against the company for his termination.

6) Bringing a Parent to Work

The current generation is an interesting one to enter the workforce. Now in their twenties, the children of helicopter parents still seem to be tethered to mom and dad’s hip. According to local news outlets, a young man brought his father to work with on a regular basis. When his boss asked to see him, the father was the one to speak for his adult child. The result was a firing of the employee.

Parents are shoving themselves into their children’s work lives more and more, it seems. Parents have been known to write reports for their adult children and make excuses for them if they are absent or tardy. This goes way beyond your parent bringing you lunch a few times a week or offering to do an errand for you while you’re at work. It is troublesome to bosses because they cannot trust their employees to do their own work.

The concern that parents are controlling their children’s lives past adolescence is worrisome to many employers. Many management sites discuss the problem and claim that they look poorly on someone who needs their parent for even minor details. When looking to promote managers companies need to know that their people can think on their feet. When mom and dad are never more than an arm’s length away, employers have no way of knowing if it’s the parent or the child who is producing the work.

7) Parents Calling to Negotiate Wage

Connected to number six on the list, parents have also been known to try to negotiate their adult children’s employment terms. Parents have been known to muscle in on interviews, going beyond waiting in the lobby and actually wanting to sit in for the processes with their adult child. Many employers are baffled by this turn of events and the way that it is handled is different for every company.

Some choose to be receptive to the inclusion of the parents, going so far as to send parents booklets or new hire packets explaining the job, benefits, and compensation. There are some that suffer through the interview and do not move the candidate along, and others still who won’t even see the interviewee. Recently, a man emailed his son’s employer, upset that his son had been passed over for a raise. The strongly worded email resulted in his son’s termination.

8) Makeup

The Huffington Post reported on the story of Francine Siddaway a nurse in the UK. Siddaway was reportedly fired for wearing dramatic makeup that her employer found to violate the dress code. She had been employed for at the hospital for over three years before they took action. Siddaway was considering legal action against the hospital at the time of the Huffington Post article.

The style of makeup that Siddaway chooses to wear is what she says is “Egyptian” style. The dark makeup around her eyes mimics the makeup style that movies have made famous mimicking pyramid art and sphinxes. The fair skinned, blue eyed, Siddaway is not Egyptian, but stated that the makeup style was like armor. She stated that she wore the same style of makeup to her interview and that she hadn’t changed it since she began working.
Many women in the UK state that they find the idea of going to work without makeup on to be stressful. Siddaway is not alone in feeling as though she is protected by adding some color to her face. While many employers do not feel that this is a big deal, extreme makeup, hair, or tattoos are all known to get employees in hot water. It is assumed that a patient or their family complained about Miss Siddaway’s appearance and filed a complaint.

9) Stopping a Robbery

An employee at a famous auto shop found himself without a job after he intervened to stop a robbery in progress. During his shift a robber entered the store and made off with money merchandise. Instead of sitting by, the employee rushed out and tackled the intruder to the ground. He held him there until police arrived. When the man returned to his shift, he found himself fired. The reason was that he left the store on company time. Public outrage didn’t do anything to get the young man his job back.

While it is understandable that a store wouldn’t want their employee to get involved with a robbery in progress for the employee’s safety, the firing caught many by surprise. The employee did not get hurt or impede in the police activity. Instead, he felt that he was doing the right thing by protecting his store’s assets.

10) Feeding Hungry Children

Chartwells, a company that supplies food to the Webster Groves school district in Missouri takes theft of any kind extremely seriously. So seriously, in fact, that they fired cafeteria worker Dianne Brame for supplying a student with lunch. In the fall of 2012, Brame noticed that a boy on the free lunch program hadn’t renewed his application. He was also not bringing any money with him to school to pay for lunch. Not only did this result in the boy being hungry, but he was also ridiculed by his classmates for not being able to afford food.

According to Brame the boy’s mother didn’t speak English, and it was possible that she couldn’t understand the application to complete it. She felt badly for the boy and instead of giving him the required cheese sandwich and milk she supplied him with a full lunch for free. This went on about two months before a coworker noticed what Brame was doing and reported her to Chartwells. They fired her for theft.

This story is complicated by a statement made by the school, stating that they did not have any part in firing Brame. However, they also stated that they understood that Brame was not fired for theft. Instead, they claim that she was terminated because she refused a transfer to another location. If she was being moved or pushed to quit because of her theft to feed the boy, the news station could not say.

11) Doing the Harlem Shake

Miners in Australia found themselves without a job for making a video. In early 2013 an online trend was to make a video of a group of people dancing to the Harlem Shake. The start of the video will show one person dressed strangely dancing alone while everyone else on camera is doing their usual mundane work. During the middle of the song the words “do the Harlem shake” prompt a scene change to match the change in beat and tempo. The scene change involves the whole room dancing around in strange costumes. Then the videos are posted on a site like YouTube.

The miners thought that they would do their own version of the video, so got together after work and made one. They then took it to YouTube and all was well until their boss found it online. He wasn’t as amused by the event as they were and fired them all. The reasons were focused around misuse of equipment and time. It would have done the miners well to either involve their boss or at least let him know.

12) Being Overweight

Model Filippa Hamilton, weighing in at 120 lbs while standing 5’10,” was fired by Ralph Lauren for being too large. She had worked with the fashion designer for over 8 years at the time of her termination. They stated that she no longer fit into the sample size that they required their models to wear. Though Ralph Lauren denied firing her because a size 4 U.S. was too large, Hamilton says there could be no other reason.

In a statement made to USA Today, Hamilton is quoted saying that she was “on time, every time” and considered the design group to be a second family. Ralph Lauren did use Hamilton’s image in their campaign after the firing; however, they altered her image to be what many consider disturbingly thin.

Hamilton considers the photo manipulation to be dangerous to her own image. Because she felt that she looked unreal or cartoonish, she worried that other agencies would not want to work with her. Being known as someone who is dramatic is a good way to stop getting work, according to many people in the modeling industry. It’s all about how well you work with others and how dependable you are. Many designers do not consider a size 4 U.S. to be plus sized, as plus-sized models tend to begin around sizes 6-10 U.S., depending on agency.

13) Liking the Wrong Team

In 2011 John Stone, a salesman at Webb Chevrolet in Oak Lawn, Ill wore a Green Bay Packers tie to work. The trouble was that his boss was an extremely loyal Chicago Bears fan. So loyal, in fact, that he called Stone into his office when he noticed the tie. ABC reported that Stone thought his boss was joking when he was ordered to remove the tie so he refused to do so. The situation escalated quickly and Stone was fired on the spot. Because Illinois is a right to work state, his employer was well within his rights to fire Stone, even if the reason seemed petty.

Cases like Stone’s are ones that lobbyists are starting to point to as they discuss right to work regulations. When an employer has the right to terminate an employee without a clear reason, then vindictive bosses will find any reason to fire someone they do not personally like. Arguments for changing the laws include saying that the knowledge that their employer can fire them for any reason leads employees to do things they are not comfortable doing for fear of being fired. It also is alleged to add more stress to an employee’s daily routine.

14) Saving a Life

Juan Canales was a waiter in Florida. During his shift at a Thai restaurant he heard a woman and man arguing. Concerned, he looked outside and noticed that the woman was being carjacked by an armed assailant. He didn’t believe that the police would arrive in time, so he ran out to help the woman. He tackled the man and held him down until the police arrived, much like the auto supply employee that stopped a robber. The woman was safe and her property was not stolen, but Canales lost his job.

The restaurant stated that he didn’t clock out before he left the building. Though the woman could have been seriously hurt or killed without Canales’ intervention, the restaurant’s policy wasn’t going to budge. As of the time of the report, Canales was not offered his job back.

This follows a trend that many employers seem to follow. Corporate regulations take the place of someone’s better judgment. According to numerous news outlets, Canales didn’t think what he did was wrong. In fact, he stated that he would do it again. Canales was not cited for any crime by the police and did not get in the way of the arrest or investigation.

15) Fired Because of Past Behavior

Richard Eggers was a Wells Fargo employee for many years when a crime that he committed as a youth caused him to be terminated. Eggers wasn’t convicted of murder. He wasn’t accused of fraud or forgery. Instead, what got him fired was the coin trick at a local Laundromat in 1963.

The coin trick worked well before the digital age for vending machines, pool tables, and laundry washers and dries. As a child, Eggers cut cardboard into the shape of a dime and attached it to fishing line. He would then insert the cardboard “coin” to get the washers and dries to start. Once the machine was running, he would pull the line and get his cardboard back. Eventually Eggers was caught and a police report was filed though nothing major came out of the event, until October of 2012. During a review of Eggers’ background, Wells Fargo noticed the charge that was placed against him in 1963. Eggers was around 19 years old at the time. USA Today reported that the bank has an extremely strict policy of not hiring anyone who was convicted of any financial crime. Eggers’ use of the coin trick was considered fraudulent and so he was fired.

You may want to shoot your boss an email and thank them for being normal. Some bosses are either so self-absorbed that they fire someone for how attracted they are to them. Others have little to no sense of humor and apparently missed the memo about how important play is to our daily lives. Many of these stories are so shocking that you don’t really want to believe them. However, almost all of us know at least one person who was let go for a completely ridiculous reason.

Then there are other people who really do bring it on themselves, such as people who drink up alcohol spills, for example. The people who forget who all they have ‘friended’ on Facebook and make a rude comment about their boss should know better. If you’re going to complain on social media, use filters. If you are compelled to drink up spilled product, you may just need to find another job.

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