Would You Fire Employees for Playing a Prank?
Four school maintenance employees have been fired and a fifth suspended for wrapping a co-worker in shrink wrap and then taking pictures and video of him as part of a prank.
Maintenance mechanic Anthony Farrell, cleaners Jason Haag and Keith Purdy, and cleaner-groundskeeper Chrystian Quezada were fired by Yorktown school district, located north of New York City. Their supervisor, who was not identified, was suspended without pay.
The fired four said the episode was typical of the sort of prank played in the operations and maintenance department—and that the co-worker they shrink wrapped was in on the joke, laughing along, and vowing to get even.
Yorktown police confirmed to The Journal News that they investigated a report from parents of an unnamed district employee that their son was tied up and photographed by co-workers in the maintenance shop for several minutes during school hours. At least one photo was posted on Facebook. A cell phone video also was made, but it was not posted online.
"That's the way we are in the shop, we're all friends. We all play jokes on each other, and at the end of the day we go home," Haag, who is 35 and worked for the district for three years, told The Journal News. "If for one second I thought he would get injured or hurt, I wouldn't have done it."
The day after the March 2 incident, the district's assistant superintendent Tom Cole confronted the employees with the Facebook photo and questioned them about the incident. On March 7, they were fired.
Purdy, 59, who'd worked for the district for seven years, told The Journal News of the episode: "It was over and done with, another practical joke at work. It's a guy thing."
Inc. contributing editor Courtney Rubin was for five years a London-based staff writer for People magazine. Rubin, a former senior writer for Washingtonian magazine, has written for the New York Times magazine, Time, Marie Claire, and other publications. She is the author of The Weight-Loss Diaries.