It’s fair to say that most dismissals don’t involve a woman giving birth. Or are handed down because an employee failed to cheat on his wife. But in this article, “4 strange dismissals” we share these unbelievable dismissal stories and more to have recently made global headlines. The Fair work Commission has to grapple with these types of unfair dismissal cases every day.
1. Pub worker dismissed for sharing CCTV footage of birthing woman
In February 2023, a Cairns pub worker was dismissed for sharing CCTV footage of a woman giving birth that later went viral on social media. This story, which made international news headlines, is one of the more unusual reasons for an employee to be dismissed that we’ve seen in recent times.
In the footage, the woman is shown darting into the dining room area and into a corner. She then pulls down her pants and bends over seconds before her newborn pops out and onto the floor of the Raintree Tavern. A security guard is then seen picking the newborn up before nursing it in his arms. This all took place as patrons enjoying Australia Day celebrations looked on.
The unnamed employee who shared the footage, which later earned thousands of views on social media, was dismissed by the pub a week after the dramatic scene. A spokesperson for the pub told media that “appropriate disciplinary action” had been taken for what it deemed “clearly unacceptable” conduct by the employee. “We take privacy very seriously, have strict policies protecting staff and patron privacy and regret CCTV footage has been accessed and shared in this way against company policy,” the spokesperson told media.
2. Google employee dismissed for not cheating on his wife
If ever there was a bizarre reason to be dismissed, it’s this one. In January this year, this incredible story of a Google employee who claims he was dismissed for rejecting the sexual advances of a senior colleague hit the headlines. In a federal lawsuit, 48-year-old Ryan Olohan alleged that high-ranking Google executive Tiffany Miller groped him during a boozy company dinner. The incident took place at a New York restaurant in December 2019. The dinner was in fact to celebrate Mr Olohan’s promotion into Ms Miller’s team.
Ms Miller was also alleged to have told Mr Olohan that she knew he liked Asian women and that her marriage lacked “spice.” She also rubbed the abs and complimented the physique of Mr Olohan, a married father of several children.
Court documents reveal that Mr Olohan was hesitant to report the sexual harassment to HR given that most of his colleagues at the dinner were intoxicated. Also, because they had dismissed Ms Miller’s behaviour as simply “Tiffany being Tiffany.” Mr Olohan eventually lodged a complaint with HR, but no action was taken. According to court documents, the HR manager “openly admitted … that if the complaint was ‘in reverse’ — a female accusing a white male of harassment — the complaint would certainly be escalated.”
Ms Miller retaliates against Mr Olohan for making complaint
When Ms Miller got wind of the complaint made against her, she didn’t take too lightly to it. In fact, the senior executive made her own complaint to HR in which she accused Mr Olohan of “microagressions.” Then in December 2021, an intoxicated Ms Miller confronted Mr Olohan at a Google event and began scolding him in front of his co-workers. The verbal beat-down was so severe that Ms Miller had to be persuaded to move to the other end of the table by colleagues.
Ms Miller later apologized for the incident. However, Mr Olohan alleges that even though Google was aware that Ms Miller’s harassment was because he rejected her sexual advances, it still didn’t look to discipline or dismiss her.
Ms Miller continues her harassment, Mr Olohan is dismissed for not being “inclusive”
In April 2022, an intoxicated Ms Miller once again confronted Mr Olohan and scolded him in front of colleagues. This took place at a company social event at a karaoke bar. And yet again, Ms Miller told him that she knew he liked Asian women because his wife is Asian. While this ongoing harassment took place, Mr Olohan says that he was facing mounting pressure from his manager. This included being pressured to dismiss a male employee so that he could be replaced with a female.
Then, in August 2022, Mr Olohan was dismissed by Google. He was told of his dismissal during a video conference call with the Google Employee Investigations team. The reason for his dismissal was that he was not being “inclusive.” Mr Olohan, who had worked at Google for 16 years, asked the team why he had been deemed non-inclusive. The answer was because he had displayed favoritism toward colleagues who had been performing well. The team also said that he was “ablelist” for making remarks about co-workers’ “walking pace.”
3. Worker dismissed for not keeping webcam on awarded over $100,000
Here’s a good news story about an employee dismissed for a ridiculous reason receiving a handsome amount of damages. It involves an employee for US-based IT company Chetu who was required to have his webcam on all day to ensure he was working. The dismissal took place when the employee, who was based in the Netherlands, refused to turn his webcam on when attending a virtual classroom session. According to court reports, the employee decided that enough was enough. He complained that having his webcam on all the time was an “invasion of my privacy” and that it made them feel “really uncomfortable.”
“I don’t feel comfortable being monitored for nine hours a day by a camera,” said the employee. “You can already monitor all activities on my laptop and I am sharing my screen.” To this complaint, Chetu responded by saying that having a webcam on is the equivalent of being seen by colleagues in an office. And after the employee still refused to turn his webcam on, he was dismissed for “refusal to work” and “insubordination.”
Breach of human rights
The employee soon took Chetu to court, and as it turns out, its requirement for staff to be constantly monitored was a breach of human rights. The court ruled that video surveillance of an employee is an “intrusion into the employee’s private life.” It found that Chetu had no right to constantly monitor the employee while he was working. And that the company had denied him the right to privacy and had dismissed him for an unjust reason. The court therefore awarded the employee around 75,000 Euros in damages – the equivalent of AUD$116,000.
4. Loyal worker dismissed for stopping shoplifter
You would think stopping a shoplifter from getting away with hundreds of dollars’ worth of goods would earn you high praise from your employer. But for an American retail worker, the phrase ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ rang very true when she was instead instantly dismissed for her courageous behaviour. 61-year-old Beverly Bennett had been working for a Lincoln Park Kroger store in the state of Michigan for over 31 years. And she was sick of shoplifters getting away with stolen goods almost every day.
So one day, when a man tried to rush out of the store with a trolley filled with liquor, Ms Bennett decided she had had enough. As the alarm rang when he attempted to exit the store, she asked for his receipt and stood right in front of his trolley. And then, she swung a basket at the trolley.
“I swung it at the basket and I told him, ‘Don’t touch it. You’re not getting this cart,’” Ms Bennet told media. The heroic actions prevented the shoplifter from escaping with the goods. And Ms Bennet was congratulated by her co-workers for the deed. But her employer saw things differently. Rather than commend her, Lincoln Park Kroger dismissed Ms Bennet for breaching the company’s policy with regard to dealing with shoplifters.
Told everybody the employee had retired
Ms Bennet has since launched a court action against her ungrateful former employer, who also lied by telling her co-workers that she hadn’t been dismissed, but simply had retired. “No, I didn’t retire. I didn’t have a retirement party. I didn’t say bye to anybody, none of that. Because I was terminated because I thought I was doing the right thing,” Bennett said. “This is devastating.”
Conclusion to: 4 strange dismissals that made global headlines
Have you been unfairly dismissed?
If you feel that you’ve been unfairly dismissed from your job, we at A Whole New Approach can help. Our experienced workplace mediators have a successful track record helping over 16,000 Australian workers make unfair dismissal and general protection claims. If you feel your a victim of some bizarre acts in the workplace and not sure to turn to or how to react give us a call. Equally if you have “mucked up” or “acted the goose”, and now suspended, subjected to a workplace investigation and need to keep your job or be now packaged out, call us we don’t judge we advise
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