There have been a lot of bad bets made over time. For
example, two years ago I bet on the World Series and, after the
Phillies lost, had to painfully write a blog post praising the Yankees. On The Office last week,
newly-appointed regional manager Andy Bernard bet his staff a butt tattoo that they couldn't reach an
unheard of sales quota. Perhaps the most famous pop culture example of a bet is
Seinfeld's contest, where the four bet on who
would be the "master of their domain."
Then, there's this gem, courtesy of the Des Moines Register:
A Bettendorf businessman, branded as the "boss from hell"
by some of his employees, offered prizes to workers who could predict which of
them would next be fired.... William Ernst, the owner of a Bettendorf-based chain
of convenience stores called QC Mart, sent all of his employees a memo in
March, outlining a contest in which the workers were encouraged to participate.
The memo read: "New Contest - Guess The Next Cashier Who Will Be Fired!!! ...
To win our game, write on a piece of paper the name of the next cashier you
believe will be fired. If the name in your envelope has the right answer, you
will win $10 CASH."
An administrative law judge sided with an ex-employee in
her unemployment hearing, writing about the "egregious and deplorable" contest:
"The employer's actions have clearly created a hostile work environment by
suggesting its employees turn on each other for a minimal monetary prize.... This
was an intolerable and detrimental work environment."
To be fair, in my career I've seen a lot worse work
environments. For example, I vividly recall a cake in likeness of a vagina,
iced with homophobic epithets, presented to an employee as a challenge to his
perceived lack of manliness. Notwithstanding, I'm not sure I'd ever recommend a
firing contest as a form of employee motivation.
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