Fired for wearing orange

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It’s unclear whether the employee’s reason for wearing orange is as innocent as they claim, but one way or another, 14 employees of a law firm in the US state of Florida were terminated this week – and the official reason was because they had all worn orange to work.

While a spokeswoman told local media the law firm had no comment, several employees reported that they decided to wear orange shirts on Friday so they would look like a group when they went for afternoon drinks. The employees claimed that, having been previously asked not to wear T-shirts that contained a particular (un-named) word, they decided instead to wear orange.

However the plot thickened when one employee spoke to local media, musing that perhaps their new manager, the wife of the executive who terminated them, had taken exception to the colour of the shirts. “We got a new manager who started on 2 March – I guess she had a complex about tanning, because she’s orange, and they said we were threatening her. Her husband was the one who fired all 14 of us, called us into the conference room and said we were being fired for wearing orange.”

In the meeting the executive said anyone wearing orange for an innocent reason should speak up, but the after-work drinks reason was ultimately not accepted.

Florida is an “at-will” state for employment, and unless there's a contract, an employer can fire a worker “for a good reason, for a bad reason or even for the wrong reason, as long as it's not an unlawful reason,” Eric Gabrielle, a labour and employment lawyer, told the press. “No violation of the law jumps out” in this case, he added.

Weirdest firings:

1. Shaved head
The owner of a restaurant in Ontario, Canada had a fixed idea of what hair length he wanted for employees. When one of his female wait staff showed up to work with a shaved head, she was shown the door. The owner said he requires all employees to keep their hair at a “reasonable length”.

2. Updated Facebook status
In a move that surely many managers have wanted to take, a London manager had enough of a staff member who updated her Facebook status with ‘ bored at work’. The employee’s boss said the admission of boredom revealed that “she just wasn't happy here” and thus “it wasn't going to work out.” Though perhaps HR might need to have a word to the manager – the question is why was the boss perusing Facebook on company time? Was he, perhaps, a little bored?

3. Sending an email in all caps
An Auckland accountant was sacked for sending “confrontational” emails with words in red, in bold and in capital letters. The employee was later successful in an unfair dismissal claim, and at the hearing the employer said the worker had caused disharmony in the workplace by using block capitals, bold typeface and red text in her emails.

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