Everybody has at least one “bad boss” tale under their belt, but every now and then, there is a standout. An Iowa convenience store owner takes the dubious crown this week for an employee contest he ran, inviting workers to “Guess the next cashier who will be fired.” As an incentive to play this game, there was even a $10 prize. See a copy of the company-wide memo that announced this “contest.”

This story surfaced because one employee who quit in disgust filed for unemployment benefits, which the employer contested saying that she had quit voluntarily. The employee stated that this memo “… created an extremely hostile environment for us and it pitted employee against employee.” The judge awarded the employee benefits, calling the contest “egregious and deplorable.” As Stephanie Rabiner notes in the first link:

Ordinarily, unemployment insurance is not available to workers who voluntarily leave their jobs. However, many states will grant benefits when an employer causes an employee to quit.

An employee must generally prove that an employer did something so intolerable that any reasonable person would have quit. There may also be proof that an employer intended to compel an employee to leave the job.

Examples include discrimination, retaliation, abject humiliation, and of course, firing contests.

This one gets posted to the Bad Boss Hall of Fame, right up there with legendary Tiger Mike Davis and his infamous memos to his staff. If you’ve never read the Tiger Mike Memos, do so now. Here’s a small sample: “Do not speak to me when you see me. If I want to speak to you, I will do so. I want to save my throat. I don’t want to ruin it by saying hello to all of you sons-of-b*tches.”


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