When an administrator fires someone, you expect a sane reason behind the decision. Perhaps there were multiple complaints from customers or coworkers regarding the employee’s attitude. Or maybe the business is downsizing and the employee was unlucky enough to be included in those being let go. These are rational reasons to fire an employee.

However, you can’t expect everyone to be rational all the time, not even your boss. There have been a lot of cases where a supervisor had superficial or even confusing motivations for firing their subordinates. Some companies resolve these matters by hiring experts in mediation and judicial arbitration; a lot of them turn to messy and, sometimes, amusing courtroom battles.

Here are four of the strangest reasons for letting employees go.

1. Because They Wore Orange

A law firm in Deerfield Beach, Florida sacked 14 of their support personnel for wearing orange-colored shirts at the same time. Their employer stated that they fired the personnel because they thought it was a form of protest. Although some of them were wearing orange to mimic prison uniforms to protest some draconian policies, others were only wearing orange for unconnected reasons.  In any case, firing the employees for either protesting or for wearing orange is unlawful according to multiple legislations, likethe National Labor Relations Act.

2. Because They Needed Their Asthma Inhaler

A worker from Trenton, New Jersey received $45,000 after his employer discharged him for wanting to go home and retrieve his asthma inhaler. The man was working in the company’s assembly line when he suddenly became short of breath. He informed his supervisor and asked to go home for his inhaler. The supervisor criticized his work pace and told him to gather his belongings. After the employee took the matter to court, the company claimed that they had no idea of his asthma and that they had fired him for walking off. The court determined that this was untrue and had them pay the man for lost wages and damages.

3. Because Their Boss Overhead Them in a Pocket Dial

An employee working for a trust fund in Georgia accidentally pocket dialed his boss. Instead of ending the phone call once he had determined it was a pocket dial, the supervisor continued to listen for 12 minutes. During this time, the employee spoke to his wife about his supervisor’s job performance, unaware that the subject was listening in. The supervisor did not appreciate what he heard and fired the employee. Since this seemed more than a little unfair, the man sued his supervisor for the unjust termination.

4. Because They Tried to Save a Life

Sad young businessman packing files in cardboard box at desk in office

A lifeguard in Hallandale Beach, Florida was supposed to be watching his section of the beach when a man began to drown in an unguarded area. The lifeguard ran to help the drowning man, who was about 1,500 feet away from his designated area. Although other lifeguards took over watching his section, the lifeguard’s supervisor sacked him for the perceived offense. The debacle ended on a high note when the lifeguard received a key to the city for his actions.

Employer-employee relations can become tricky enough without nonsensical firing decisions. Companies should realize that such practices are no longer acceptable and that the mark of true business is professionalism in all things, not pettiness.

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