Workers are supposed to only report to HR in serious cases of mistreatment. But that's not always the case. These HR employees share some of the most ridiculous complaints they've ever received. All stories have been edited for clarity.
"Was once asked to investigate a harassment situation where three different women were coming on to a male coworker throughout their shift. I took down the details, got the names, easy peasy investigation, or so I thought.
A week later, I learned that nobody by these descriptions or names had ever worked for the company. I decided to talk to the gentleman again. After a lengthy conversation where things didn’t quite stack up, I asked him how these women communicated with him.
I kid you not, with a straight face, he looks me in the eye and replies 'telepathically' like I’m some kind of idiot.
I had never sent an employee for psychological evaluation up to that point and I hope never to have to again.
So yeah I was asked by a delusional schizophrenic to conduct a harassment investigation on the voices in his head."
"I was the person complained about and, two decades later, I'm still salty about it.
I got called in to the HR manager's office one day and told that I was being written up for discussing 'inappropriate and indecent things' in the office. I had never done that, ever. I was still a very-much closeted gay boy at the time so there wasn't a chance in heck I was going to talk about my personal life to the middle-aged women I worked with.
'Who complained about me?' I asked, being young and naive.
'We can't tell you that. There's confidentiality rules,' HR said.
'Okay, I understand. What was it that I supposedly said?'
'We can't tell you that, either. You may use that to discover who lodged the complaint.'
'So, I'm being written up because an anonymous person complained that I was saying improper things in the office, but you won't tell me who complained or what I supposedly said?'
'That's right. Now, please sign this form to indicate that you understand the severity of your infraction.'
'No, I won't do that.'
'You have to.'
It was a stalemate for almost 20 minutes while I refused to sign their form. They threatened to fire me, but I still refused to sign. In the end, she made some comment on the form about my 'unwillingness to participate in the process.'
Then, to top it off, the rest of the office wondered why I completely stopped speaking to all of them altogether. I refused to engage in any of the usual non-office-related talk. If it was not 100% required conversation in order to do my job, I flat out ignored my coworkers' presence.
Again, I was called in to HR and reprimanded for my abrasive demeanor.
I quit that job shortly thereafter."
"After 20 years in HR, I have too many to remember. The most recent was on Monday when an employee emailed me with a request to remind everyone to be careful with scented lotions. Her area reeked from something that smelled like Moroccan oil. These kinds of emails are a bomb waiting to go off. Everyone gets paranoid, and I end up replying to 50 people that they smell fine and, yes, please keep wearing your deodorant. I told her that I would rather address it with the individual, so let me know who it was. After literally sniffing our way through the cube farm, we discovered the smell was coming from her own desk drawer. We couldn't find the stinky culprit, so she ended up throwing everything out. Case closed."
"I was one of a group complained about to HR.
A former employer had a large parking lot and one guy who was very full of himself got a new car and took to parking away from everyone else. No problem with that, but then he'd brag loudly to everyone about how expensive his new BMW was (it wasn't), and how he HAD to park it away from the 'lesser cars' everyone else drove.
So, a group of us started making a point of parking next to him, still within the lines, just next to him. So, he'd go out at break and move his car somewhere else in the lot, and we'd go out and move our cars to wherever he parked.
After a week or so of this, he apparently made a BIG stink of it to HR and wanted them to write us all up for parking next to his car. HR politely told him they weren't going down the path of designating his car as one nobody could park next to (but, the HR lady did ask us to please stop as he was a headache for her to deal with)."
"I'm no longer directly in HR but I do supervise that division. At times, in that role, I get called into particularly dicey situations. One of my favorites was many years ago. Although I am in a blue city, it's a very red state. And at the time nothing was gay friendly.
A guy was caught having coitus in his county truck with a woman who was an employee in his department. He was reprimanded. Got caught a few weeks later, same act, same truck, different woman from another department. Our HR rep was going to fire him. He begged and pleaded said he was drinking too much and would get help. We sent him to rehab, gave him a last chance agreement and a few weeks later he came back bright-eyed, sober and ready to work.
Did a good job working for almost a year. Then gets caught in his truck getting blown by some random dude. We brought him in and told him that was enough. His excuse, I kid you not, was that his reprimands and last chance agreement prohibited him from having coitus on the job with women who were fellow employees. His excuse was that this wasn't a fellow employee and it wasn't a woman. What?!"
"I was called to be a third party witness to a HR meeting (some policy about buttocks covering or whatnot) where an employee was being spoken to about his clothes. The guy biked to work was being warned not to wear his bike shorts into the office and to change in the office lobby as soon as he walked in the door. The complaint was because the guy was heavily endowed and was distracting the female employees (and more than 1 of the guys). The funny part of this is the HR manager was female and wearing a short slit thigh skirt and her chest was falling out of her blouse. Pretty much the standard uniform for all the single office ho-bunny's there. The guy just looked at her and told her to look up irony in the dictionary and perhaps, as guys hear all the time, it's the woman's responsibility to not fantasize about him. He said, and I will remember this forever, 'Don't shame me.'"
"I was handed a handwritten letter from my boss, and he said, 'I think you might need this.'
The letter had been written by an employee, who let herself into the boss’s office and left it on his desk while he was out, complaining she was unhappy about how the staff were 'mistreated and disrespected' because he often left during the day to 'go shopping and get haircuts' (this rarely happened, probably not even once a month), and that she thought it was appalling that he left for a week over Christmas to see his family, while they weren’t allowed more than 3 days off over Christmas.
Had a meeting with her and literally had to explain that he is the owner of the company and can come and go as he pleases, that he works evenings and weekends when others don’t, and that the week off was the first time he had taken holiday in 8 months, unlike the rest of the staff who get 28 days throughout the year.
She looked at me, expressionless, and said, '...And? I want a week off at Christmas. If he gets it, I should have it.' I told her that her complaint had been logged, and that we’ll look into it. She walked out, relayed a different version of our conversation to a dozen employees and gossiped about the boss. She was gone within a month of the letter."
"My company is too small to have an HR, so it just falls on me. We used to have an A/R clerk who would snack at her desk all day long. We are a pretty casual, laid back company so it's not a big deal as long as she was getting her work done.
But, then it escalated to having food constantly being delivered; tacos in the morning, pizza at lunch, Chinese in the afternoon. It was bizarre and made it difficult for her to work when she's eating full meals all day. I was on the fence about saying something until she brought in an Instant Pot. She plugged it in and cooked a freaking pork roast at her desk, poured in BBQ sauce she brought and ate on it all day. I was dumbfounded, it was so strange. I pulled her aside the next day and told her how unprofessional it was. She was shocked and told me I was being unfair because I never specifically said no one was allowed to bring in an Instant Pot.
She truly seemed genuinely surprised that she wasn't allowed to do that. She scaled it down after that, but I sometimes wonder how much further she would have gone if I never said anything."
"The classic story from our HR is they got a complaint from someone that their co-workers were not including them on their image sharing emails. The co-workers must have later realized that was just asking for questions and asked to remove the complaint, leading to actual suspicion.
Very quickly, it came to light, that several long-term employees were using work computers and work accounts to share specific inappropriate images back and forth all day at work. The employee that made the initial complaint simply wanted to be included because they knew they were being left out of something."
"One of the managers I worked for got reported to HR for a girl's constant dress code violations.
The employee who got him in trouble had lime green hair, came to work in a black button-up that came from Hot Topic, and black jeans. She had piercings on her nose, mouth, and 6+ on her ears.
The manager was chill about it, though. His rule was as long as you do your work, you are fine. She didn't do her work well, though. She was always online gossiping about something, and bragging about something. If she would accidentally send an email to the whole company (which often happened), she would shout in the office, 'PLEASE DON'T READ IT.'
The final nail in the coffin for her dress code violation was when she tattooed the word EFF CIS on her hands. The manager told her it wasn't appropriate, and she reported him to HR.
The actual HR complaint about the manager is paints him as a racist, a slave driver, a cruel harasser, a christian, and possibly a trump follower. (We have no politics at the office since it just leads to drama.)
The HR personal took her big list of violations that she had accused of in that week. The biggest one was harassment.
The complaint to HR was serious, but since they were so serious, without evidence other than him asking her to please do her job. It went nowhere. Ever since then, HR would get receive a few complaints from her a day such as.
He is playing Trump's speech in the office.
He is reading out hate-speech.
He is trying to convert our non-Christians into Christianity.
He is creating a hostile work environment for women.
He is mansplaining things to other female co-workers
He attacked 'INSERT CO WORKER NAME HERE'
HR is so sick of her nonsense that at this point, any citation against her will probably lead to her termination. We don't know how she maintains a job here because it was revealed that she has no idea what she is doing when works and most of the time after finishing work we spend most of our time fixing hers."
"Someone made a complaint to my boss about me before we had an HR person on staff.
I bring rare hamburger patties to work and heat them up in the microwave. Granted, they're not the best tasting and it probably isn't super safe for me to eat, but I do it anyway.
I had been doing this for at least a year when I get called into my boss' office, and she tried to be serious, but was holding in her laughter for most of the time, as was I when the following line of questioning started:
Boss: 'So, a few people seem to have a problem with you cooking raw meat in the microwave. Why don't you cook them before and just heat them up?'
Me: 'I like my meat rare. Reheating doesn't taste right.'
Boss: 'Do you just leave it open or do you cover it?'
Me: 'I cover it.'
Boss: 'Do you clean the microwave after?'
Boss: 'When you put it in the refrigerator, how do you store it?'
Me: 'In a Tupperware in a plastic bag.'
*At this point, it's obvious that she's reaching to figure out what the concern is.
Boss: 'Where in the refrigerator do you put it?'
Me: 'Either in the freezer or the bottom shelf. Labeled with my name.'
Boss: 'Okay, I'm going to buy you a microwave cover and hopefully that's the end of this.'"
"My mom works in an office building made of concrete. There's a lady there that keeps the temperature at 70° in the Summer. For reference, this is in the U.S. Deep South, so it's pretty commonplace for the weather to be about 80-90 for half of the year. During July-August, however, the heat index reaches about 105-110° due to the insane humidity. In the office building, due to the concrete, it gets way colder than 70° actually feels. Plus, there are vents pointed at just about all the cubicles. I've gone to visit my mom and seen her with a space heater, a jacket, and pants on. Sometimes I've even seen her in gloves. She's by no means a small woman that would be susceptible to cold either. It's pretty ridiculous to have to dress for winter at your office when outside it's hotter than heck.
Anyway, the woman leaves for lunch so my mom turns the AC up two degrees so that it wouldn't be so cold for a little while. As soon as the woman comes back, she starts throwing a fit and yelling about how they should just be expected to burn up and boil alive. She complains to the bosses a few times, but they don't do anything because it's pretty petty and only 72°, which isn't unreasonable. She makes a complaint with HR and my mom is called in. She fears the worst because HR is pretty bad at her work. They end up laughing about it.
Well, the woman doesn't like that, so she starts threatening to go to the owner of the company. Nothing has happened yet, but I'd personally love to see what happens when you complain to the owner of the company about two degrees on the thermostat."
"A department in my mom's office decided to go out for a team get together of dinner, drinks, and a pub quiz. The whole night was quite jovial. One guy apparently was a pub quiz wiz and knew all the answers. He wasn't arrogant or being mean about it, but did take over slightly because some answers some people gave were beyond moronic. Their team got a perfect score and won every prize. The next day, two people secretly complained to HR that he had embarrassed them and made the whole team look bad by being a 'know it all.' When the team manager found out, his way of dealing with it was to always assign that guy some other work which meant he had to stay in the office and couldn't attend any future team gatherings off site. They were all terrible, the lot of em."
"Someone called HR on me.
I work with a few people that aren't that fluent in English. One of my coworkers was trying to explain to me what kind of tacos he ate and could not remember the word for stingrays. So he took my notebook and drew a picture of a stingrays and wrote the word turtle. So it looked like this: crudely drawn stingray+the word turtle. He was not eating stingray/turtle tacos at work. He was telling me that was his favorite type of tacos to eat when he was at home. He is originally from Mexico and is in Iowa on a TN visa. Maybe in his coastal Mexican town, it is normal to eat stingrays and turtles. I have no idea, really. All I know is I couldn't help him in the slightest when he asked me if I knew where to get stingray meat.
Anyways, a lady I work with went through my notebook, saw the picture of the stingray plus the word turtle. She called HR because she thought I was writing notes about her in my notebook. She said that horribly drawn stingray plus the word turtle meant that I want to punch her in the face because she is slow like a turtle. Definitely a reach. I didn't get in trouble, I was just told by my boss that I'm not allowed to talk about turtles anymore in case it upsets her. I rarely talk about turtles, so this isn't really a problem for me."
"I recently had HR tell me that one of my staff had been under supplied in his annual leave over the past few years, and he needed to take at least ten days off over the next six months to correct the leave liability. Paid at a higher rate than usual to make up for the error, of course. He could take a two-week block or, say, a day off a week until he'd used the leave - his choice.
He was so enraged over being given extra paid holidays that he wrote to our General Manager to complain, screamed at me (his boss) 'I know my rights!' and refused the leave or even to discuss why he wouldn't take it.
Anyway, I wrote his performance review this week and there are multiple goals about professional, respectful behavior that need to be reached in order for him to get a raise this year.
Yeah, not so much. Oh, and he still has to take the ten days off."
"The company I work for has delivery drivers and since they will be visiting construction sites, it provides work boots for them. In-store employees have to provide their own footwear within dress code. We had hired a female driver and ordered the smallest size of boots our supplier had available, and they did not fit her. Since they already ordered them, one of our part-time drivers encouraged our in-store assistant manager to try the boots on for herself and see if they fit, which they did. The part-time driver then encouraged her to take them.
So the assistant manager took the boots. The manager noticed this and told her that well he didn't really care about the boots, since they were just going to sit on used anyway, that she should not wear them to work because the employees under her did not have footwear provided by the company. Her defense was that one of the part-time drivers told her it was okay, but the manager thought he had gotten through to her eventually.
The next time he saw her wearing them at work, she explained that she had cute boots for at-home use and that these would be perfect for work use. He reiterated that it was unacceptable for her to be wearing them at work, so she emailed HIS boss looking for back up.
The boss's boss almost immediately called her and explained to her that he could actually fire her for what she had done. He used a specific analogy to explain why it wasn't okay, and shared the analogy with the store manager at a regularly scheduled meeting they have the next week. The store manager then reiterated that specific analogy to the assistant manager the next time the topic of the boots came up (yes, it was still a point of contention). She took this consistent messaging from two levels of management as a sign that she was being ganged up on, and tried to go over the district manager's head, going to both regional management and HR about it.
This ended in an official write-up that she thought was just so unfair, never mind her ignoring instructions from not just her boss but her boss's boss too. She has since left the company."