The Weird Workplace

A collection of unusual and quirky stories from across Canada and the world
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/28/2019
Sonic
Management changes caused staff to walk out en masse at U.S. Sonic locations. Credit: James R. Martin (Shutterstock)

‘The whole store has quit’

OHIO — The new owners of three Sonic drive-in locations in Ohio received a startling reception from staff in February. Each of the fast-food restaurants saw complete staff walk-outs as employees protested the ownership change, according to Fox News. Employees claimed the stores’ new owners immediately implemented a major wage reduction to US$4 per hour for tipped employees — a claim that was refuted by management. The changes caused staff to walk out en masse at locations in Circleville, Lancaster and Grove City. Notes were left in Circleville and Lancaster alerting management to the reasoning behind the walkouts, including the following statement: “Due to terrible management, the whole store has quit.” Since the management turnover, two stores have permanently closed, while eight others have re-opened under the new ownership.

Man down

NEW JERSEY — A bad acting job captured on a surveillance camera has resulted in the arrest of a U.S. worker on one count of theft by deception, according to CNN. Video footage appears to show Alexander Goldinsky, 57, in his company’s breakroom, looking around before throwing ice on the floor. After standing over the ice momentarily, the worker appears to take a deliberate tumble and lands flat on his back. Goldinsky went on to file a false insurance claim for the ambulance service and treatment he received at a local hospital for his injuries. An independent contractor, Goldinsky was arrested a few months later. “The investigation revealed that Goldinsky purposely threw ice on the floor in the cafeteria at his workplace, placed himself on the ground, and waited until he was discovered,” said a statement from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.

Interesting leave

CHINA — Two employers in China are offering a unique leave opportunity to female employees over the age of 30. The companies operating the Songcheng theme park have decided to give employees an opportunity to find a life partner. Additionally, if true love is found and results in marriage by the end of 2019, a salary bonus will be awarded, according to the Khaleej Times in Dubai. The additional 15-day (and potentially longer) leave was offered in February as an extension of a national week-long break from Feb. 4 to 10. The news was welcomed by staff, at a time when marriage is being put on the back burner as more Chinese women focus on their careers, said Huang Lei, HR manager at Hangzhou Songcheng Performance. The firm is considering offering the deal again next year. 

Poison sandwich

BERLIN — A German man has been sentenced to life in jail — normally 15 years in Germany — after he poisoned the sandwiches of colleagues, resulting in critical injuries. Identified as Klaus O., the 57-year-old was caught on surveillance camera putting a suspicious powder onto a co-worker’s sandwich at a business in Schloss Holte-Stukenbrock, leading to his arrest last May. Similar actions by Klaus O. left one 23-year-old colleague in a coma with permanent brain damage after he ingested mercury. Two other victims, ages 27 and 67, suffered serious kidney damage from lead and cadmium poisoning, and now face a heightened risk of cancer, according to the Associated Press. A search of the accused’s home uncovered a primitive chemistry laboratory and a substance “more dangerous than all combat agents used in World War II,” said Judge Georg Zimmermann. Klaus O. did not speak during his trial and his motives remain unclear.   

Baristas behind bars

ENGLAND — The whirr of an industrial-scale coffee roaster and sharp hiss of a milk frother greets “customers” each morning inside one of Britain’s toughest young offenders prisons. Staffed by prisoners aged 18 to 21, the Redemption Roasters café inside Aylesbury prison trains inmates with specialty coffee skills in a bid to help them find jobs upon release, according to the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The small-scale coffee company is part of a growing number of businesses globally that aim to have a positive social impact while turning a profit. With about 4,000 young men in prison across the country in 2018, helping them find meaningful and stable work post-custody is an imperative, said the justice ministry. Aylesbury prison holds more than 400 of these young men, with nearly 70 serving a life sentence, said prison governor Laura Sapwell. Redemption Roasters trains 10 inmates at a time with coffee roasting, customer service and food-hygeine skills for up to one year.

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