‘Boss from hell’ burned by firing contest

An employee of the “boss from hell” will be awarded unemployment benefits, an Iowa judge has ruled, because a “Guess The Next Cashier Who Will Be Fired” contest was “egregious and deplorable.”

Some horrible bosses are better than others.

Some horrible bosses are better than others.

The Des Moines Register reports William Ernst, 57, the owner of QC Mart, a chain of convenience stores, sent all of his employees a memo outlining the contest for a $10 prize.

The memo read:

“Guess The Next Cashier Who Will Be Fired!!!!

“To win our game, write on a piece of paper the name of the next cashier you believe will be fired. Write their name [the person who will be fired], today’s date, today’s time, and your name. Seal it in an envelope and give it to the manager to put in my envelope.

“Here’s how the game will work: We are doubling our secret-shopper efforts, and your store will be visited during the day and at night several times a week. Secret shoppers will be looking for cashiers wearing a hat, talking on a cell phone, not wearing a QC Mart shirt, having someone hanging around/behind the counter, and/or a personal car parked by the pumps after 7 p.m., among other things.

“If the name in your envelope has the right answer, you will win $10 CASH. Only one winner per firing unless there are multiple right answers with the exact same name, date, and time. Once we fire the person, we will open all the envelopes, award the prize, and start the contest again.

“And no fair picking Mike Miller from (the Rockingham Road store). He was fired at around 11:30 a.m. today for wearing a hat and talking on his cell phone. Good luck!!!!!!!!!!”

Multiple employees quit as soon as they realized the email wasn’t a bad joke.

“This guy was the boss from hell,” cashier Misty Shelsky told The Des Moines Register. “He treated pretty much all of us like dirt.”

Ernst challenged Shelsky’s unemployment benefits claim, saying she resigned voluntarily, but the judge disagreed.

“The employer’s actions have clearly created a hostile work environment by suggesting its employees turn on each other for a minimal monetary prize,” the judge ruled. “This was an intolerable and detrimental work environment.”

All things considered, I guess not having an endless supply of Earl Grey at the office isn’t so bad.

* Read article at The Des Moines Register.

35 comments Add your comment

Mr. Phil

October 3rd, 2011
1:44 pm

I don’t know. the contest seems pretty reasonable to me. How can I institute that for my employees?

Lonnie Gentry

October 3rd, 2011
1:47 pm

I don’t get it. I’ve never been fired.

Or hired.


October 3rd, 2011
2:15 pm

I can see both sides to a point. There are FAR too many twerpy employees at places these days who chew gum when waiting on customers, text and use their cells in front of customers, chit-chat about last night’s party around people, etc etc. I mean seriously, a lot of these kids DO need to be fired.

On the flip side, buttwipe bosses certainly do exist. One of the owners of the company I work for things the universe revolves around him. When he brings you work to do, instead of handing it to you and saying, “Hey, I need these as soon as you can please”, he’ll drop them on your desk in front of you and go, “Do these before you leave – if you want a paycheck”. When the satellite was dropping out of orbit a couple of weeks ago, people around here were praying it would land on his head. So I DO understand the concept of a buttwipe boss, too.

Buttwipe Boss

October 3rd, 2011
4:09 pm

@atlantaphotog-I know you are talking about me. You’ve got 5 mins to pack up your stuff and security will escort you out.


October 3rd, 2011
4:10 pm

This guy is a Republican wet-dream. They believe every employer has the God-given right to treat his employees like this. Doubt me? Read the comments below.


October 3rd, 2011
4:11 pm

I’ll bet this is one of those bosses who makes a big deal about stealing from work also, what a d#$k.


October 3rd, 2011
4:32 pm

The lower the wages, the more the bosses believe that they own you.

Interesting inverse relationship, that.


October 3rd, 2011
6:26 pm

I’d like to invite Buttwipe Boss out for a steak; but I’m pretty sure before it was all over he’d have to eat his through a straw.


October 3rd, 2011
6:44 pm

to Ace i suppose its alright to come to your house and steal your tv would that be a ” big deal”


October 3rd, 2011
7:14 pm

Enter your comments here


October 3rd, 2011
8:54 pm

I guess someone should have written down the boss’s name.

parker miller 2

October 3rd, 2011
10:16 pm

I remember one day, at publics, i was repeatedly threatened in publics that i would be fired. I hate them. I axed my famly to buyfrom Krogers or Walmarts, otha store treted us like slave.


October 3rd, 2011
11:00 pm

@parker miller 2 – isn’t axing someone illegal?

Dawn Bryant

October 3rd, 2011
11:38 pm

I was let go from a job after 26 years because the 2 people who control everything didnt like me. In alot of places if they dont like you dont have a chance. I recieved my unemployment they found that I was let go for unjust cause,


October 4th, 2011
5:23 am

Jennifer Aniston can boss me around anytime!

Reasonable Man

October 4th, 2011
6:54 am

Why the uproar? This employer has a right to enforce his rules: no hats, no cell phones, etc. He has obviously made those rules clear, yet employees continue to violate them b/c they work in convenience stores with little direct supervision and think they can get away with it. This “contest” is just a way to further publicize the rules that are being violated and to let the employees know that the consequence of violating them is dismissal. The attitude that the DM Register portrays that there is something wrong with employees reporting bad behavior by other employees is curiously short-sighted. When some employees fail to do their jobs properly and follow the rules, it demeans all the employees who hold that job or work for that employer. The paper should support an employer that insists on reasonable standards rather than pander to poor employees who want to demonize their boss.

Sarah Palin

October 4th, 2011
7:00 am

I am starting a contest called “Guess The Next President Who Will Be Fired.” The Grand Prize is that we ALL get to work to get our country back on its feet instead of being spent into oblivion. I am providing one hint to the contest: The initials of the next President Who Will Be Fired are B.O. Good Luck America!

Greg S.

October 4th, 2011
7:28 am

Yep, far too many kids today think they are on their own time at work. They feel “entitled” to use their cell phone as it’s their minutes! But this boss most certainly did create a hostile environment and should be sued in a class action fashion!


October 4th, 2011
7:29 am

It’s pretty clear that these lousy employees deserve to be fired, but there’s a human, decent way to go about it. You don’t make a game out of it.

Greg S.

October 4th, 2011
7:30 am

Horrible bosses? They are ALL pretty much horrible. That is until you realize how horrible so many employees are. What happened to the work ethic in this country?

Get a job or create your own

October 4th, 2011
7:43 am

It’s pretty simple. IT IS NOT YOUR JOB. The job belongs to the employer, they are paying you to do the work. If you don’t like the rules and want your own job, go out and create one.

The Truth

October 4th, 2011
7:53 am

Hey, at least he gave them a warning about the secret shopping efforts, as well as a reminder about what are fireable offenses. Maybe this will spur the birth of yet another useless union – as if the typical gas station worker could actually become more useless and unproductive.


October 4th, 2011
8:17 am

This is where our Nation is headed back too with no jobs and hungry people.YYAAAYYY pre hoffa days.


October 4th, 2011
8:30 am

This is not a professional way to conduct himself at his place of work (the boss). For $10 you get to guess who is the next person to be fired that was a stupid concept. It was better for her to quit then to be in an environment such as this one, I’m so glad the Judge agreed with her. This boss needs to have a game played on him as to which day, time & hour the compant will fire him. By the way Ace is stupid stealing from a job if it is a pen, stapler or a computer you are a theif & it is a BIG DEAL DUMMY!!!!!


October 4th, 2011
8:33 am

I think the contest was a “warning” — if you are not doing your job, you will get fired…if you are NO ONE WINS…..I like it.


October 4th, 2011
8:53 am

This guy is a Republican wet-dream. They believe every employer has the God-given right to treat his employees like this. Doubt me?

I don’t have to “doubt” someone who is simply WRONG.

You = FAIL


October 4th, 2011
9:10 am

Long ago I worked in an environment like this. I was a Jr. Manager, having to try to live with pressure from above to “keep trimming from the bottom.” It was not enough for people to show up and do an effective job. You had to keep them all competing to not be the fire of the month. Fired for nothing, just because they were seen at that moment as the weakest one. It was a real shame. I never want to live with that again.


October 4th, 2011
9:26 am

The issue is Not reducing the work force. The issue is How the workplace was run by management. I’ve worked in hostile environments, particularly in “entry” jobs. I didn’t know there was a cause of action to take to court. Thanks, Judge! But I wonder if this case would be overturned on appeal.


October 4th, 2011
9:42 am

To Greg S.–You ask what happened to the work ethic in this country…its called REPUBLICANS! Nothing else needs to be said.


October 4th, 2011
11:18 am

We're hiring

October 6th, 2011
3:31 pm

The judge said it was a minimal monetary rewards. Does he mean if the reward whether cash or store credit was for $100 or more, he would have found that to be acceptable.


October 6th, 2011
8:34 pm

The judge must be old, because young people that grew up in a bart simpson, smart @$$ world would find this funny.

As someone here pointed out, the worse the job and wages, the higher the @$$ quotient in the boss personality.

Bad bosses are nature’s way of saying get an education and improve yourself! Unless it was to put yourself through school jobs like convenience store are jobs you should NEVER have anyway.


October 10th, 2011
1:26 pm

There is a boss in th Univ.System who throws papers back at her Admin.Assist, blows up in meetings, gets mad at employess after she has been nasty to them gets mad because they no longer speak to her, fired a guy because she did not like his hand writing or just “how he was”, degrades and humiliates.

Nancy Black

October 12th, 2011
9:51 pm

Mr Phil, just copy that memo and give it to your employees. That will fix them!


December 31st, 2011
10:41 am

Always Bag,laugh stuff pressure fly bloody no politics not nothing fear together chance display condition true priority road comparison device explore officer off middle teaching do measure discuss distinction price deal several month hotel vision different yourself class background say soft club commercial address to strength effort activity cold mine away generally owner prevent day politics initial get date afternoon available development link component profit second little start pretty somewhere unlikely trial enemy will prospect painting teach both both agreement absolutely mistake used park the library transfer consideration read