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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    2

    Angry Does a Practical Joke Make for a Hostile Work Environment Termination

    My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: SC.

    I was employed at a restuarant for 8 years. As anyone who has worked at this sort of job knows,Practical jokes are played all the time.One of the jokes was to cut the light out on an employee who goes into the cooler.Then the light goes back on and the person says,"Boo! I got you!"I played this joke on a coworker.She got very upset and I apologised in front of witnesses.She accepted my apology and said everything was ok.I was later told that I could not work my next shift because she complained to the manager.I was fired 2 days later for "hostile work environment!".I had never been written up and was a good employee.I was told that I would still get unemployment cause I had been a good employee.I was very upset.I was also told that I could be rehired.And that the girl's parents had called the home office and complained about me.I am black.She was white.

    I filed for unemployment.A month later,that location was closed.I now believed I got fired so they would not have to pay me severance pay.I was disqualified for 12 weeks for horseplay at work.But my termination sheet said I was terminated for creating a Hostile work environment.How does a few seconds of a light off create a hostile work environment??Not to mention,everybody did it to everybody and I was the only one fired.

    I had my appeal today and brought 2 witnesses.No one came to represent the restuarant.What do you think my chances are?I was never written up nor warned.Always a good employee.I feel angry about how I was treated over this incident.I worked there 8 years and drove 70 miles a day.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    24,521

    Default Re: Does a Practical Joke,make for a Hostile Work Environment Termination

    While what you did does not meet the legal definition of a hostile work environment, it was nonetheless inappropriate behavior and the company had every right to fire you for it.

    In my opinion your chances at UI are no better than 50/50

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Toledo, OH
    Posts
    16,307

    Default Re: Does a Practical Joke,make for a Hostile Work Environment Termination

    I feel angry about how I was treated over this incident.
    I'm sure the girl you played your "joke" on feels the same way.

    "Everyone does it" is no excuse. I spent more than 15 years in the restaurant business, and if you were one of my underlings, I'd have fired you for that behavior, too. Hostile? No. But definitely inappropriate and unsafe.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Lake Chapala
    Posts
    3,043

    Default Re: Does a Practical Joke,make for a Hostile Work Environment Termination

    Why would they fire you so they wouldn't have to give you severance pay when they wouldn't have been legally obliged to give you severance pay when the restaurant closed?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Does a Practical Joke,make for a Hostile Work Environment Termination

    I appreciate your reply.You must realise that I posted only so much info on this business.I worked for managers who had caught people having sex in the cooler and they were not fired.Also people having sex outside on break,in a parked car.People who come in to work stoned or drunk.So maybe now you can see why I am angry that I got fired over this.And I did apologise profusely to the young lady in question.So before you judge me on this one incident,you need to realise the other things that went on around this place.So it was ok for an example to be made of me,and none of the others, whose behaviors were much worse and they were caught in the act??Her parents called the home office.Her parents!!!I can imagine that my 27 year old stepson(who is white) playing this prank on this girl and I assure you,she would have stood there,giggling with delight.I love how people are so quick to judge others.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    24,521

    Default Re: Does a Practical Joke,make for a Hostile Work Environment Termination

    The answers you receive are only as valid as the information you provide.

    However, nothing you have posted in your response changes either the legality of the termination nor the odds at UI. "Everyone else did it/other people did worse things and were not disciplined" does not make your termination illegal; at best, it might SLIGHTLY increase your odds of UI IF you can prove it - and if you don't have access to the other employee's personnel files I doubt you can.

    If there really was as much horseplay as you claim, then I'd be willing to bet money that your employer decided to draw a line in the sand and say, "Okay, that's enough - next person gets fired". And you were the lucky one.

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