Life isn’t lived without scandals. Especially the on-the-job kind of scandal! Here’s a collection of outrageous plots at the workplace.
1. Double Dipper City
There is something that city workers here do that is technically legal, but very, very shady and is the main reason the city is broke. I know several people who have done it. It goes like this: 1) A city worker will retire on a Friday, and begin collecting their pension (about 75% of their usual paycheck FOR LIFE). 2) Then that city worker will form an LLC, or a one-person company, that performs the same task that the city worker did for the city. 3) Then the city will ‘privatize’ that job, and hire the LLC to do the same job the person retired from, but at a higher pay rate, but with no benefits, since it’s now a contracted-out job. 4) The former city employee returns to work on Monday as a contractor, but does the same exact job. They are now getting two paychecks: their pension, and the contract pay. A friend of mine ‘retired’ at age 55, began collecting a $85,000 annual pension, and went right back to work the next week as a ‘private contractor’ for the same exact position, and makes $150 an hour. Oh, and the hiring boss usually gets a kickback from this. They will approach a worker who could retire, but might not be ready yet. Then they’ll offer them to retire/re-hired as contractor deal, for a price.
2. Government Hijinks
This is particularly funny because this happened in a government office. The main office, in DC, of the SEC. Yep, while reviewing those big mergers and IPOs, with literally billions of dollars flowing through that office, this was going on (email numbers are approximate – they are probably much, much higher): Email 1: You are so sexy. I can’t believe you with that ice cream – I wanted to lick that drip off your chin and down your breast. Your tits are so hot. I can’t wait until tonight. Me: WTF???! I turn to my office mate, who is turning to me simultaneously – ‘did you just -‘ We hear laughing in the hallway. Turn back to the email. I am now laughing hysterically as I realize what happened: some idiot accidentally hit ‘reply all’ (which, on our stupid antiquated system went to the entire Corp Fin office, all 350 of us, attorneys and accountants with huge snotty attitudes and even bigger lists of contacts), and his naughty note was transmitted to all of us. Yipes. Emails 2–50: Increasingly funny and inappropriate responses are mass emailed as we all realize what happened. Personal favorite: Sorry, my cat got there first. I, um, may be late tonight. Email 51: Email from original sender apologizing for mass email, and admonishing everyone to stop sending responses. People have now figured out and passed along that sender is (a) married and (b) not to person described in letter. Bigger yipes. Email 52–2000+: Emails go NUTS. No work is done. At all. Email 2001: Email from original sender that he is going home and not returning for remainder of week for ‘obvious reasons.’ Sender never returns to work.
3. Couldn’t wait a week…
A nearly complete build of our AAA videogame (HOMMIII) was suddenly all over the internet being pirated. Because we werent completely stupid one of the engineers had put some tracing code on there in case of piracy. One of the testers sold our Gold Master to a fan of the franchise for a box of porn. The fans wife was the porn star. Said fan sent death threats to our lead designer, in all of their explicit nature. He had enough military training (Marines) to make it credible. And since he was willing to sell his wifes porn for a one-week early copy we werent exactly sure what the unhinged fan was going to do. Management decided nothing was the appropriate choice, which ticked off (and scared) the lead designer who quit. Safe to say all management had to do was send the death threats (that came with pictures of the guy in his Marines outfit) to the base in San Diego base and the situation would have resolved quite nicely.
Same said tester was looking for work a couple of years later, and applied to where I was working…
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One of the hiring managers for a programmer walked over to me and asked, Didnt your husband work on Might & Magic 7 as the Lead? I confirmed that statement. So he handed me the resume and said the guy was in the conference room. The tester (who had been fired for theft) blithely exulted all of his success as a lead programmer for about ten minutes. I smiled politely and interrupted. Guess you dont remember me, I worked on Heroes III. My husband was the lead programmer on MM7. As I ripped his resume to shreds, Get out. His face fell and he literally ran out of the office. I laughed for like an hour.
4. Maybe come out at home first.
My wife’s company doesn’t have Christmas parties anymore. That’s because at their final Christmas party, the CEO got really, really drunk and came out of the closet as gay. Not so bad, you say? Left-coast, blue state and all you say? Well, it came as a surprise to his wife and children, who got to learn the news at a party. Marriage imploded, work performance (which was never that great) cratered, dismissed in disgrace by the board soon after, in a storm of sex discrimination lawsuits.
5. A desperate wife’s revenge.
One of my colleagues had an affair with a young lady in our company. The really scandalous part is how we found out about this. His wife sent a powerpoint of his cheating in great detail, showing chat screenshots, love letters and so on to the whole company by a group email. This is the most dramatic event I have experienced. I cannot forget that powerpoint which included a clear timeline of events, highlighted key points and produced powerful evidence. It looks like a business document without emotion, but actually it was a desperate wife’s revenge.
6. I need to hear this in your voice.
The most scandalous thing to happen at my workplace was actually ME. I was (unhappily) married and was attracted to my (also married) coworker in another department. We started flirting and soon were using the company’s internal instant messaging system to exchange increasingly racy messages. Think – things I’d like to do to you, you could dress up as this for me…that sort of stuff. After a couple of months we were both called into a conference room by our bosses. They had a huge sheaf of printouts of all our ‘chats’ and asked if they needed to read them aloud for us. I’ve never been so mortified! To make it worse, his boss was a huge gossip and leaked the whole thing, with excerpts of the juiciest bits, to the entire office.
7. Just the way he is.
Mine is sort of an Opposite Day scenario, in which a employee was clearly a serial sexual harasser and it was not a scandal. Everyone knew it, and everyone – except for me, who avoided him like the plague – just brushed it off as Oh, thats just the way he is.
He was finally reprimanded when he passed along a computer virus because he was always looking at porn at work. And he was reprimanded AGAIN when he did it a second time.
A decade of him being an obvious skank was not enough to dislodge him from his position.
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Finally, the old guard was most retired and the company was acquired by a large, global organization, who changed all the policies immediately on things the owner had refused to do, like add domestic partnerships, have sexual harassment policies, and other Welcome to the 20th century now that we are in the 21st century business rules.
A new hire reported him for sexually suggestive comments and finally, after me putting up with people looking the other way for more than 10 years, he was fired.
The scandal was that this grotesque behavior was never a scandal.
8. Work with benefits.
Ah yes – the $64,000 question. Date: 2002. About a year after I left, a certain member of a workplace I was part of was charged with spending $64,000 over the last 3 years on the corporate credit card on 109 visits to brothels. Which means that over 3 years he spent an average of $20,000 per year on the joys of the flesh, covering it up apparently with fake invoices detailing the purchase of computer books, office equipment, etc. Word has it that his wife tipped off the department’s Audit branch, telling them to keep an eye on credit card purchases. And oh dear – a break-in occurred at this officer’s home and another at his office, and the items stolen were the ones he’d (supposedly) bought on the credit card…He was about two levels up the ladder from me, the director of finance and computing. He was caught when a staff member was checking through the receipts looking for something odd on the slips. Apparently one of the slips’ provider numbers was smudged, so the clerk rang the company to get it. The number reached a brothel. She felt she must have misdialed, so she tried again. Same result. At this point she went to the supervisor and the hunt was on. The $64,000 covers just those occasions the department tracked down. There could have been more. He was officially charged, pleaded guilty and alas, I never heard what the sentence was. So what’s the $64,000 question? At $64,000 for 109 visits, that’s almost $600 per visit. What sort of services was he getting for that?
9. A tale of two Jennifers.
I used to work for a senior living facility. This facility has two separate buildings, directly across the street from each other. I’ll call them buildings A and B. In building A, we had an employee I’ll call ‘Jennifer.’ Jennifer had a boyfriend whom we’ll call ‘David.’ Jennifer had recently found out she was pregnant, and was trying to convince David to move in with her, since they would soon be parents. In building B, we had an employee also called ‘Jennifer,’ who had recently found out she was pregnant. She was trying to convince her boyfriend to move in with her before their child was born. The Jennifers got to talking in the break room shared by the two buildings, and started talking about their pregnancies and their boyfriends’ odd refusals to move in together. Over the course of the conversation, they discovered that their boyfriends were both named David. What a coincidence! I’m sure you can see where this is going. Yup, it turns out they were both about three months pregnant by the same man, who had been acting as ‘boyfriend’ to both of them. Thus, his refusal to move in with either of them. The Jennifers, instead of being logical and getting mad at David, ended up having a screaming, clawing fight in the middle of the road between the buildings, each accusing the other of stealing their man. HR tried to keep the peace between the two Jennifers, but eventually had to fire them both because anytime one caught sight of the other working across the street, all hell would break loose.
10. The magic of the eighties
This was the eighties. I worked for a squeeky-clean, all American image company that prided itself on the “look” of its people: generally young, healthy, attractive, fit.
Part of the corporate “team building” and “brand recognition” was to enter every 10k race, every corporate competition of any kind. They were dead serious about looking good and doing well at these events.
A key corporate competition was baseball. A new guy from accounting joined the team and he was an amazing player, very fit, and extraordinarily attractive. He turned the team around! Suddenly we were the talk of the tournaments. Everybody went to the games and out for drinks after! Management was so proud.
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Then one day he didn’t come out of his office for lunch. His colleagues knocked on the closed door and then entered.
There he sat, behind his desk, without his crisp, tailored white shirt and silk tie. Bare chested he hummed monotone, “HHHHMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM” with his head cocked ever so slightly to the left. Staring straight ahead.
Our All American team had recruited and hired a coke head.
11. He did it to himself.
I was sitting in the stall in the bathroom (everybody poops), and overheard someone explaining to the building security guard that they had found a camera tucked behind one of the urinals. Well as you can imagine, that creeped me out. So I mentioned it to the CEO and he sent out an email advising everyone. You’d think that would be the end of the story but… Since that happened I was always conscious of it and made a habit of looking behind the urinals flushing mechanism every time I went to the restroom. I did this faithfully for about 5 months until one day, there it was. A USB pinhole camera in the men’s restroom. I grabbed it and began marching back to the CEO’s office to turn it in. Right before I reach the office door, I hear my name being called from down the hall. It’s one of my favorite colleagues. Great dude. Someone I trusted and had gone to happy hour with more times than I could count. He walks up to me and says ‘it’s mine.’ My jaw drops and I have no idea what to do. Not only was he someone I liked, he was the 60 year old CFO of a $100,000,000 company. He asks me to step outside and tries to justify it all. He claims that the CEO has made him do unethical things for years and starts vomiting details of ‘shady’ business practices. And then he drops another bomb by telling me that the CEO was actually his target because he was infatuated with him. I had no idea whatsoever that he was even into dudes (as if that matters). So he cries and cries and begs me to keep quiet. I spend the last half of the day just staring blankly at my computer before driving to a park and screaming at the top of my lungs. At the end of the day, I sent the CEO a text and asked him to give me a call. I explained in grueling detail what happened and he was understandably at a loss for words. Over the next couple of days of stress, indescribable awkwardness when passing him at the coffee pot, and police statements, he is walked out of the facility by security while staring at me with completely dead eyes. Turning him in was undoubtedly the only decision available, but this one incident completely ruined this guys life. I feel bad but at the same time, I don’t. I just hate that he did this to himself.
12. Something for society.
Being an IT security engineer, I was entrusted to keep the company networks safe from malicious attacks and to keep hackers at bay. But wasn’t expecting things to transpire like the one below. As most of you guys know IT can actually look into the chats, the sites you are surfing and emails being sent out. A network transmission was flagged in my security tool which scans the incoming and outgoing network for any malicious activity. When I went to look in what was going on, I was literally shocked at what I saw. I observed that one of the employees was watching child porn during office hours at 10 AM in the morning. When I dug deeper found that one of the Directors of the company was doing it and on a regular basis. I wanted to investigate a little more so kept a tab on this guy’s activities. This guy’s in his 50’s married with 3 kids and to my astonishment found that this guy had created fake accounts and was chatting with young kids on a regular basis and was trying to trap and blackmail them if he did not do the favors he was asking them. Some of the chats were really disgusting and I felt really sad for the poor kids. So I collected all the evidence and reported it anonymously to the cops. The police set up a sting operation and apprehended him red-handed when he forced a 12 year old to visit his house when his family was out. He was fired from the company. I never took credit for it nor informed anyone at work. Just wanted to do something for the society.
13. Paid leave!
I worked at a graphics studio for six months.
One day some personnel came in, spoke with HR, then our HR announced that everyone should stop working and shut down their computers.
The personnel then proceeded to write stuff on little stickers, and stuck them to our monitors and CPUs, unplugged them, and carried them off one by one.
We were on paid leave for a few days.
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We found out the reason. All our software wasn’t licensed and registered (only 1 registered copy but used for multiple computers, and no internet connection for all units).
The studio was fined, was made to purchase licenses for each instance of the each software for each computer, and required to have computers updated regularly.
14. Fired without notice
At a job very long ago, the owner was a Class 1 a-hole. For example, if Christmas was on a Saturday and we asked whether we got Friday off, he would say, ‘Why, you’re already off on Christmas!’ He introduced his wife as, ‘This is my wife’—without even saying her name as if she were just another object in his collection. He quadrupled the size of his office, even though we were already in cramped quarters, making two, sometimes three, employees share a single desk (not a single cube—a single DESK). This boss also printed out all of his emails and then, at the end of the day, would crumble them up and throw them in the garbage. Of course, those of us who worked later than him would un-crumble them and read them to get the dirt on what was happening. Once, we found a memo where he was asking my immediate boss to find some excuse to fire a pregnant co-worker because, ‘It’s going to cost us too much if she has that baby and I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay someone who’s not working.’ We mailed this anonymously to the pregnant woman at home. Sadly, she didn’t do anything. A few months later, we found a memo stating that the company had been sold and we were all going to be let go at the end of the month but that my boss was to keep this secret from us until the very last day because we were needed to run the business until the new owner’s crew came in at the start of the next month. In other words, we were all going to be fired without notice. That memo ended up being photocopied and left on everyone’s desk. The next day, the entire place was angry and upset. The owner called an emergency meeting and started by saying, ‘As you know, it’s our policy to always keep employees informed with what’s going on…’ and the room burst out laughing. He turned red with both embarrassment and anger. The end result was that he agreed, in writing, to provide one month of severance pay if we stuck it out until the end.
15. The Hunt
That would have to be ‘The Great Homophobic Witch Hunt’ of the late 90’s. WHERE: Los Angeles adjacent, aerospace manufacturing facility employing several hundred to sustain ’24-7-365′ operations. WHAT: Night cleaners find a bloody condom floating in one of the mens toilets. REACTION? A witch hunt spearheaded by the ‘virtue’ of our homophobic general manager! Needless to say, the discovery of a bloody condom would tend to raise eyebrows…however, it did not end there as our general manager took it upon himself to ‘locate the deviants’ and take the ‘appropriate corrective actions.’ And so began a clandestine campaign to ‘rid’ our company of those who ‘engaged in such behavior.’ The sad part of this is, most of this took place behind closed doors. We heard about it from our shift supervisor who attended these meetings. Our GM never really spoke of the event outside his office, however, our supervisor shed light on his obsession to end what in his mind must have gone on to have left a bloody condom floating in a toilet. One week later, ‘BR,’ one of the nicest guys I’ve had the pleasure of working with, comes back from his last vacation…BR was a gentleman who’d been with the company some 40 years. His wife had died several months earlier. BR was a month away from his upcoming retirement. As our supervisor described it: BR barges into the management meeting with tears in his eyes and rage in his veins…while singling out the GM. BR explains to the group that he has cancer (we assumed prostate) and that he has to place a condom on his wang to keep from ‘leaking.’ He apologized about the poor flushing job he must have done to have left a soiled condom floating in the bowl, but then unleashed an ego-shattering description of those who’d jump to such conclusions, singling out the GM and all but calling him out as the homophobic misanthrope he turned out to be. The witch hunt over, BR retired a month later to enjoy several more months before succumbing to his condition. The GM never seemed the same after that…kinda toothless and withdrawn…
16. His work was impeccable
One of my coworkers received a visit from Human Resources once. They asked her opinion about Mr. B, who worked on her team. She said that B was extremely weird and socially awkward, but that his work was impeccable so she had no complaints about him.
The Human Resources guy started to giggle nervously until he finally admitted that they suspected B of peeing on the corners of some meeting rooms during night. WHAT. THE. F.
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The company had to hid some night vision cameras in the rooms and caught him on tape working until late, then sleeping on a couch and then waking up early in the morning to pee on the corner opposed to the door. He did this in several meeting rooms.
They had to fire B and change all the carpets. I had the dubious pleasure of knowing the story because I work on a division of the company that does lots of filming and editing, so they asked to borrow the cameras from us.
Eventually people found out and I don’t think they will ever forget about it either. The story still pops up now and then in meals and parties.
17. Persona Non Grata
Oh, it’s that time again! Children, come, come gather around the fire, for Uncle Garrett has a tale to tell! A few jobs ago, I was managing at a call center. The company, when I was first hired, was very small, small enough where everybody knew everybody else’s name, people hung out a lot, made friends, and, in many ways, we were a family. Three years later, the place had expanded, massively. Now, when a company grows that fast in that small amount of time…there are growing pains. You have to stop worrying about hiring the best, choosing instead to just hire…somebody. So, we started getting people who weren’t a part of our ‘family’ and people who were just downright ‘wrong.’ There were some minor indiscretions at first, just silly things. But, then things escalated: sex in the VP’s office, sexual harassment, people stealing from the company, all the usual things that happen in a company. But, the really scandalous thing that happened included me right in the middle of things, and it started when I received a rather innocuous email: ‘Hey Garrett, I got the cheese for the V.’ I remember this coming up on my screen and just staring at it for a bit. I didn’t recognize the person’s name at all, but he was an employee. I kept mulling it over for a bit and responded: ‘What cheese?’ Response? ‘You know. What I owe you for the V.’ Some of you may be snickering at me right now. Well…sorry. At the time, I was rather innocent about this stuff. But I knew many of my employees were…um…partakers. So, I called one over. ‘Hey, Tanya, just curious…if I told you, ‘I got the cheese for the V’, can you tell me what that would mean…to you?’ She looked at me like I was crazy. ‘It means you have the money for either the Valium or Vicodin I gave you. Now give me my money.’ She was clearly having fun with me. I wasn’t. I looked in our employee directory and found another Garrett in our email system…it was a simple case of somebody being lazy when typing and autocompleting an email address. Then it dawned on me that what this meant was we had drug deals being arranged via our corporate email system. This was bad. This was really bad. As an outsourced call center, we serviced about 50 different companies; if there had been an arrest, we would have to turn over all our email records…which would cause several clients to leave, due to the exposure of A LOT of private information. So, I went to the VP who oversaw operations and had to break the news to him. An internal investigation began that had many embarrassing consequences. I wasn’t truly privy to all the details, but I can tell you there was a crapload of drug use and drug sales going on there. A VP was a coke addict. Most of the management staff and entire sales teams were on serious drugs. In the end, though, the company realized they couldn’t fire 30% of their staff. Some token firings were made, particularly of the dealers. People were disciplined and there were a couple demotions. However, one sad casualty was…me. It was WELL known that I was the guy who started the downfall of the drug trade there, so I was persona non grata for the rest of my tenure there.
18. They’re much better now though!
The company I worked for went through a swingers phase. And yeah, I mean the whole company! It’s a reputation that we’re still trying to fix even though it’s been five years since the people mostly responsible have left. I’ll tell you about the most scandalous things, though there’s many ‘smaller’ incidents that have happened. Incident One: Big Boss sleeps with an employee’s wife. Employee finds out. Big Boss continues sleeping with wife (event though he’s married as well) and Employee does nothing. Employee’s son is later hired at the same company. Weirdness ensues. Incident Two: Employee comes to work in the middle of the night to check on something. Walks in on a threesome involving two other employees. Employee is scarred and tells everyone. Threesome is not punished. Weirdness intensifies. Incident Three: This is more of an ongoing problem we’re fixing (Company is in the service industry). Swingers come to Company to ‘connect.’ Keys left in jar, comments on the perky nipples of Employees (male and female), caressing of cheeks (face and otherwise), multiple people in single bathroom for extended periods of time. Weirdness at maximum level. We’re much better now though! But it’s fun to reflect on the lingering weirdness that occasionally happens.