More On Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

March 13, 2008 - by: Julie Elgar 2 COMMENTS

In the truth is stranger than fiction category, I recently re-discovered a case in which a Hooter’s waitress in Florida sued her employer for tricking her about a prize in a beer-selling contest.  The waitress thought she would win a Toyota if she sold the most beer.  However, after she won the contest, her manager blind-folded her; led her to the parking lot; and presented her with a plastic “toy Yoda” character from Star Wars.  The manager claimed the prank was an April Fool’s joke.  Funny, right?  Apparently, the employee didn’t think so– she sued her employer, a Hooter’s franchisee, for breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation.

We all know that subjecting employees to ridicule and disappointment is not a great motivational technique.  But, as the employer learned in this case, conducting business this way can also lead to protracted, and ultimately, expensive litigation.  While cases usually aren’t this egregious, the lesson is the same:  “I was only kidding” is never going to be your strongest defense.

Remind you of anyone in Scranton?

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2 COMMENTS

1 Steve
17:59:08, 24/03/08

Chalk this up to yet another case of … Really? This is what our courts need to be worrying about? I guess I must admit that I am highly interested in the ruling of this case especially after the recent decision that said it was ok to dress employees up in diapers, feed them baby food and spank them as motivation techniques.

Am I being oversensitive in one area; not sensitive enough in another? Technically, an essential job function fo rher position is to sell beer. Technically, the employer did provider her with a “toy Yoda”. Maybe there was an intentional emphAsis put on the wrong syllAble. The employee is taking this to the point of litigation? What responsibility falls on her to confirm the validity of the prize? Seriously, this one seems harmless. Are there no fun and games allowed in the workplace anymore? I sure am glad that I am ultimately held responsible for maintaining an inviting, fun and motivating culture while sticking to stoic automaton standards.

Reading HR legal updates (or pending litigation) has come to be a daily, “Ahem” moment.

2 kris
14:36:59, 19/12/08

Reminds me of what Edison did to Tesla. Edison promised Tesla $1,000,000 to improve the electric motor. When Tesla claimed his compensation, Edison said that it was a joke. He blamed Tesla for not understanding ‘American’ humor.

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