5 haunting HR horror stories - from Zoom gaffes to fake CV references

While many people will be thinking about pumpkin carving and spooky treats, those working in HR may start to reflect on some of the horror stories that they have encountered over the last year.

As such, HR Grapevine has collated a list of five haunting workplace horror stories.

Job candidate branded a ‘chav’ by interviewer

At one point in time, we have all been guilty of sending a message to the wrong person by mistake.

Yet, sending a bad email to the wrong person in a work setting is something that should be avoided at all costs as this could land employees in trouble.

HR Grapevine previously reported on an interviewer who accidentally emailed a potential new recruit, rather than a colleague, calling him a ‘chav’.

This incident not only highlights the importance of workplace professionalism but also the impact that a sending a bad message to the wrong person can have on an individual’s confidence and wellbeing.

Employee’s video call gaffe

When working from home, employees have faced a range of difficulties, from distracting pets to tech-related problems.

Yet, one employee was left feeling red-faced after a conference call gaffe that saw her inadvertently ‘flash’ herself in full view of her colleagues after she had used the toilet.

HR Grapevine previously reported that ‘Jennifer’ was on a Zoom group chat with colleagues and could be seen pulling her trousers down to relieve herself – unaware that her laptop camera was on.

Throwing away the boss’ food

For most employees, impressing the boss is a top priority. Yet, the actions of one employee is likely to have severely raised eyebrows.

In a 2020 Twitter thread, which revealed some of the biggest mistakes that staff had made at work, user @justdisappointin explained that she once threw away her boss’ dinner.

She recalled in the tweet: “It was homemade soup that she’d just made a few hours ago.”

Fired over Jabba the Hut

In 2018, an airplane pilot was fired from his job because his references weren’t up to scratch.

The individual at the heart of the matter had put Star Wars villain Jabba the Hutt as a referee.

The airline in question offered the pilot the chance to resign and then claimed back his training costs.

An employment judge presiding over the matter – the pilot took the airline to tribunal to try and claim notice-period pay – concluded that “it was a serious matter” with consequences that “could have been catastrophic.”

Sacked over chicken nuggets

Earlier this year, HR Grapevine reported on the bizarre case of an HR advisor who was sacked after complaining about the size of his portion of chicken nuggets in the staff canteen.

Steven Smith, an HR worker based in Scotland, was fired after an altercation with a canteen worker over the paltry poultry he was offered for lunch.

Smith, who won a £5,000 pay-out this summer after an employment judge ruled his dismissal was unfair, was reportedly taken aback after ordering chicken nuggets and chips and cheese for £1.99.

The complaining colleague, who served Smith his food, alleged that he questioned the portion size – which was just three nuggets - and was offered an extra three for 99p.

At this point, the tribunal was told, Smith declared he was “not a kid and if he wanted a happy meal he would have gone to McDonalds”. The complainant alleged Smith then “forcefully pushed” the box back at her before “storming off”.

An employment tribunal later ruled he was unfairly dismissed.

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