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.”
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.