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Strange Tales From The Employment World

It’s almost the end of the year and the time is right to reflect on some of 2008’s weirder happenings in the employment world.
It was a busy year for strange occurrences in Canberra, Australia. An online company was planning to sell fake doctors’ notes to people who want to take time off work. According to published reports, such medical notes are already available in Britain and can be obtained within 48 hours.
A representative of the Australian Medical Association commented that the practice of selling fake medical notes is “clearly inciting and abetting a fraud”. The company, while producing authentic-looking medical notes, said they are meant to be used as novelty items and not for any illegal purposes.
Says the website: “We are not responsible for misuse of our products. Please use our products with caution and care.”
Also in Canberra, the newly appointed minister of police resigned after reports of drunken “dirty dancing” at an office party.
The minister had been sworn in to his new post only 3 days before he was reported to have stripped down to his underwear, danced to loud “techno” music on a leather couch, and then “mounted the chest” of a female politician and simulated a sex act.
The embarrassed minister did not deny the stripping and dancing, but did deny anything relating to a simulated sex act. The State Premier reportedly told the minister that he could not ignore the “many reports of you in your underwear”.
In Nassau, New York a psychiatrist was arrested after a patient reported to police that the doctor was planning to murder patients and feed them to sharks. According to the patient, the psychiatrist proposed that the patient assist with the killings as a form of therapy (he was seeing the doctor for treatment for anxiety and panic attacks).
The physician’s plan was to shoot the patients, dismember their bodies, and dump the remains into the shark-infested waters off Long Island, NY. After a police “sting” operation, the psychiatrist was arrested, charged, and indicted for conspiracy to commit murder. 
The patient, clearly sensing opportunity, sued the psychiatrist for malpractice (contending that the experience induced post-traumatic stress disorder).
In Bulgaria, if you happen to be the coach of the women’s national hockey team, job security probably isn’t in your future. 
The Bulgarian women’s squad gave up 192 goals in a recent Olympic qualifying tournament. The team lost 41-0 to Italy, 39-0 to Latvia, and 82-0 to Slovakia before really getting their offence rolling in a 30-1 loss to Croatia. One Bulgarian media outlet referred to the carnage as “nothing short of a national embarrassment”.
In the epic loss to Slovakia, the Bulgarian coach waited until the score was 77-0 and there were only three minutes left in the game before switching the backup goaltender (who promptly allowed goals on all five shots she faced). The final shot tally for the game was 139-0 in favour of Slovakia.
In Washington, Pennsylvania, retail staff may be accustomed to dealing with unhappy customers but rarely do they get their own “shot” at revenge.
A hairstylist had absorbed more complaints than she could handle. In response to her customer’s whining over a hair weave job, the hairstylist excused herself for a moment and then returned to the salon floor with a gun. The first shot went into the ceiling and the second shot went into the customer’s buttocks.
The customer was taken to hospital and the hairstylist took a trip to jail. Chances are good that the customer chose not to leave a gratuity.
On the London stage, the dream of a career as a professional actor dies hard (and sometimes not at all). Andre Tchaikowsky finally achieved his life-long dream, but only after his death.
How can this be? Simple, if you donate your skull to London’s Royal Shakespeare Company and they agree to use it in the gravedigger scene of the play, “Hamlet”. 
Each night, Hamlet now holds up Tchaikowsky’s skull (which had to be left outdoors for several months in the sunlight to dry out) and proclaims, “Alas, poor Yorick”. Being an employment lawyer, I wonder whether Andre’s survivors are being actor’s scale for his nightly (non-speaking) performance.
Finally, what kind of Grinch would I be if I didn’t end with a heartwarming story appropriate to the holiday season?
In Wiesbaden, Germany, a department store Santa on his way home for the night was mugged by stressed-out Christmas shoppers. The Santa was still “in character” and chatting to other passengers while waiting for his train home.
Two men, allegedly stressed after a full day's Christmas shopping, lost their patience when asked to "tell Santa what they want for Christmas". The men took his sack of gifts and proceeded to beat him over the head with it.
The battered Santa explained, "Around this time of year shoppers seem to get this glint in their eyes and you can just see they are going to go off any minute. I should have known better but come on, who beats up Santa Claus?"
On that note, it’s time to wish you all a safe and enjoyable holiday season and a happy new year!
Robert Smithson is a partner at Pushor Mitchell LLP in Kelowna practicing exclusively in the area of labour and employment law. For more information about his practice, log on to