The SEC Likes Porn in the Office – Share Your Ridiculous Work Stories

by Darwin on March 27, 2010

Why doesn’t it surprise me that the SEC ignored Bernie Madoff?  They were too busy looking at PORN!?! According to this outrageous report, the practice is pretty pervasive at the Securities and Exchange Commission – and the consequences aren’t always very stern.

This reminds me of some stories I’d heard about employees engaged in rather outrageous behavior both at my workplace as well as stories I’ve heard from other people.  I’ve never had intimate (no pun intended) knowledge of a subordinate or peer looking at this stuff at work, but there were plenty of rumors following mysterious departures.  Occasionally, someone would be terminated with no explanation and a few weeks later, it would be rumored that it was due to either sexual harassment or viewing inappropriate content online.  Aside from those activities that are sure to (or should) result in a pink slip, I recall some behaviors that went unchecked for some time until the employees left on their own.

  • There was one guy running a computer hardware business out of the office.  He basically had some hardware website and was doing all sorts of sales and inventory stuff all day.  He used to try and sell us stuff.
  • Another guy was taking flying lessons – I swear, he had a steering wheel and flight simulator software going and used to test fly airplanes at his desk.
  • And another guy was running a towing business on the side (he always had to “take a call” on his cell, like 20 times per day).
  • Back when MySpace was popular (seems like a long time ago), one supervisor was viewing her subordinate’s personal profile and comparing the times he was posting online which happened to be during business hours.  She put an end to that.  Personally, that seemed a bit over the top if you ask me to be invading someone else’s personal profile to check on what they’re doing at work rather than just monitor what they’re actually doing on the job, but I guess if they were goofing off a lot instead of working, then there’s some justification.  I can just say I’ve never fished around for profiles and checked internet info on anyone that’s ever worked for me.  These days with Facebook, just about everyone’s on there at some point during the workday.

None of the prior 4 employees were terminated; they all left on their own for various reasons, but the first 3 were likely violating company protocol in some fashion.

I don’t know, call me stupid, but I just assume I’m being watched all the time.  It’s the company’s computer and their time, right?  Checking out the sports scores over lunch should be no big deal.  When it’s even borderline inappropriate visuals or content though, no way!  How stupid does one have to be to do this stuff at work?

There’s always the gray area in between too, which is spending too much time online at clean sites or on the phone.  Companies seem to not put those rules in black and white since they probably like to retain the ability to be flexible (i.e. ignore it when the top performers do it and go after lackluster performers for borderline behavior).  I guess it comes down to whether you’d feel you’re able to defend your actions if challenged.

That being said, what are some of the crazy stories you’ve encountered with employees doing outrageous stuff on the job?

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{ 2 trackbacks }

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 LeanLifeCoach March 27, 2010 at 8:12 am

I’ve never been surprised by what people do while on the job; sleeping, drugs, side business, stock picking etc…

What really surprises me is what companies (managers) are willing to put up with! The other day I stopped in a restaurant. While ordering the clerk interrupted the process so that she could respond to a text message. What really ticked me was the manager that watched it happen and did nothing. I walked out.

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2 Matt SF March 27, 2010 at 9:00 am

Once knew a guy who downloaded MP3s from Kazaa on his desktop, so naturally, the IT dept setup a better firewall on everyone’s PC. What they didn’t catch, until 8 months or so later, that he started up again using one of the lab computers (supposedly for biochem & process development purposes only).

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3 Revanche March 27, 2010 at 12:39 pm

The majority of the bad behavior that I’ve witnessed was BY the bosses:
Male bosses:
– A pantsed a male intern in the front office in full view of the window facing the street, in a room of female employees.
– B finally managed to obtain an administrative layoff for a hated employee, and gave him the news in the middle of the office where anyone could witness the layoff. I accidentally walked through that scene.
– B openly mocked employees for their religious beliefs.
– B also liked to make it very clear that since he didn’t do jury duty for reasons that never apply to any of his staff, didn’t take vacation, didn’t take time off, didn’t go to the doctor or didn’t take breaks from work to eat, no one else on his staff who was serious about their job should either.

Female boss:
– C was informed by an employee of her recent health development post-work injury. Her response was, “and you’re telling me this why?”
– C told her newly pregnant employee that she was on a short list because she’d gone and gotten pregnant, because she was sure that Expecting Employee “would leave her like new mom employee had during her pregnancy.” Which was completely untrue, btw.
– C hired her own untrained kids who turned out to be delinquents to administer medical treatments and turned a blind eye to their sexual escapades on the clock with other employees. Oh right, the other employee was the kid’s girlfriend who had also been hired by C. For her son to play with.

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4 ctreit March 28, 2010 at 8:37 pm

A while ago I worked with a guy who was caught watching porn – in an open space office none the less. He got reprimanded and promoted about a year later. All cool….

There was a funny e-mail going around years ago that had an exe file attached to it. When you clicked on it, it would set the volume of your computer to maximum and then yell, “Hey, everybody! I am watching porn over here.” Embarrassing when you were the one opening the file, but I thought this was still a very funny prank.

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5 Budgeting in the Fun Stuff March 29, 2010 at 11:53 am

Here’s some things that go on around here:

1) Lady kept taking actual naps in the one bathroom stall for women…she was laid off for some other reason, but that was the instigating factor.
2) A group of employees came in after hours to grab something that they forgot and found the late-shift employee without pants with a beer in his hand…he said he was hot. He was not laid off but left for a different job in a few months.
3) There are about 5 affairs going on around here…thankfully, my department is not involved, but it’s like rabbits…
4) Instead of filing the documentation he was in charge of, one guy hid it away in 3 empty cubicles for 6 months before he was found out and terminated.
5) A coworker earned her associate’s degree by doing all the work at this job. She then complained that I read or blogged when I had free time…HA! It took her about a year…she’s been moved to two different departments due to whining…
6) It took them 9 months to lay off a coworker who did absolutely nothing…I mean nothing…

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6 Sara May 5, 2010 at 7:49 pm

I have a coworker who is incredibly lazy and seems to view work as her social hour. She has always spent a lot of time surfing the internet, forwarding chain e-mails, and making personal phone calls on company time, but I think the worst was the day she came to work and spent the entire day doing her taxes! What sucks about this is that in my job, there are several people responsible for one big “pool” of work, so when one person slacks, it results in more work for everyone else.

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