Despite being necessary needed for ensuring and fair and respectful workplace for all employees, nobody wants a call from HR. From weird requests to mind-boggling grievances, sometimes we really should sympathize with the people working in the sometime ridiculous world of human resources. Get ready to laugh, and maybe cringe, at some of these ridiculous HR stories.
1. Casting An Extra Large Sales Net
A workmate shot an email to all 25 stores in our company, asking for Girl Scout cookie orders. She quickly got told off and caused a memo to be sent to everyone.
2. When The Employee Needed A Little More Help
Once, my job was to look into a case where a guy said three ladies were hitting on him at work. I got all the info and names—it seemed like an easy job. But the truth was so much darker.
But, a week later, I realized no one matching those descriptions or names actually worked here. So, I chatted with the guy again. The pieces weren't adding up, so I asked him how these ladies were talking to him.
Believe it or not, he looked dead serious and told me "telepathically," as if I'm the crazy one. That was my first time ever having to send a worker for a mental health check, and I'm hoping it'll be my last.
Turns out, I had a guy with schizophrenia ask me to investigate harassment from voices inside his own head.
3. The Perils of Single Restrooms
My office has a single men's restroom. One of my colleagues was upset that another guy always seemed to use the bathroom just before him. To top it off, the guy would leave a really smelly mess every time. It almost seemed like he knew exactly when my friend was about to go in, would rush in first and do his business, and then leave a potent aroma behind for my friend to deal with.
We decided to put an air freshener in there. But soon enough, a new issue popped up. The culprit apparently never sprayed it after his visits.
4. How Did She Come To That Conclusion?
I have a few workmates whose English isn't that good. Once a colleague was trying to tell me about a taco he ate that had stingray meat, but he couldn't remember the word 'stingray'. So he doodled a stingray in my notepad and scribbled 'turtle' next to it.
A coworker saw my notebook...and her reaction was deranged. She saw the stingray sketch and the word 'turtle', and decided to call HR! She assumed I was making fun of her, suggesting she's as slow as a turtle. Bizarre, right?
Didn't get in trouble though! My boss only said I should avoid talking about turtles, just to keep the peace. That's not a big deal, 'cause I don't usually chit chat about turtles anyway. My colleague was just sharing about his favorite food back home in Mexico - he's here in Iowa on a TN visa. Where he's from, they munch on stingrays and turtles like it's no biggie. As for his question about where to find stingray meat - got me stumped, I have no idea!
5. That’s One Way To Pack A Lunch
I had an employee who'd munch all day at her desk, which was cool since we're a chill kind of firm, as long as the job got done. But it got out of hand when she started getting food delivered throughout the day. It was weird and affected her work because she was dining like it's a feast.
The real kicker was when she brought an Instant Pot to the office and treated her workstation like her own kitchen, whipping up a pork roast and drizzling it with BBQ sauce. It was just too bizarre.
The next day, I had to have a talk with her about how odd and unprofessional it was. She was taken aback, telling me I was being unfair since I didn't explicitly ban kitchen appliances. She genuinely seemed surprised that there were any issues. She toned it down after our talk, but it made me wonder how far she'd have pushed the boundaries if I'd stayed quiet.
6. Detailed Search For A Stinker
Once, someone actually pooped at a workplace. HR received a photo with measurements. But it got even more bizarre.
The ones who complained asked for DNA testing. I still don't know why they measured it.
7. Fashion Over Practicality
One of our company's Executive Assistants complained that her heels made it hard for her to walk to the new copy machine. She suggested swapping her old office printer with a new one as a fair solution, so she wouldn't have to make the trek.
8. Foot Massages On The Job
So, I recently called out a bus driver for bringing his girl along to work. That alone wouldn't have been a problem. It was what he was doing to her.
He was giving her a foot massage while driving. She was sitting right behind him, making it easy for him to reach her feet. I even got a pic of the whole deal going on. I really wasn't sure what to do with it. I mean, sure, I didn't want this dude to lose his job or cause a drama over why he's massaging his girl's feet on duty. But then, he screwed up even more.
He took a wrong turn. Even worse, it was a U-turn on a downhill bend without much visibility. I mean, we could've crashed into another car. So yeah, I decided that if you're responsible for the safety of others, that's what you should be focusing on. Period.
9. Reported For Missing Clothing
I worked in human resources for two decades. One time, I had two women on staff come to me with a complaint. They had a concern about another woman on their team not wearing underwear under her pants while at work.
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10. Reported For Helping a Layman Understand
I work in a hospital. One day, a patient wanted to know if it was cool to ditch her IV fluids 'cause she was ready to head home. She was totally freaked, thinking she'd kick the bucket if we removed the fluids. And get this: she was only in for a common cold.
Well, I reassured her and said, "Don't sweat it, lady. We're just pumping everyday saltwater through your IV, no meds or anything. You're good to go home, and we can yank that out". Guess what? Next day HR gives me heat for not using fancy medical jargon for the IV fluids.
11. When Your Coworker Really Hates You
This coworker of mine, she couldn't stand me. She wished someone else got my role in HR and would constantly snitch on me for the smallest things. The craziness hit an all-time high when I sneezed and she just lost it. Slammed her keyboard, darted out of the room and was MIA for half an hour.
Next thing you know, management's on my case, saying I was being too loud. I told them—it was just a sneeze! Apparently, she griped about me daily, so even though they didn't fully buy her side, they needed to make it seem like they were handling it. Not long after, she quit.
12. How Dare They
So, HR recently told me that one of my team members hadn't gotten all his vacation days over the past couple of years. He's gotta use at least ten days within the next six months to square everything. He's getting more money than usual for this mix-up. He could take two weeks straight or, maybe, a day off every week until he's used up the leave—totally his call.
You won't believe it. He got super mad about these extra paid holidays and even complained to our General Manager. He yelled at me (his boss), "I know my rights”! He didn't want the leave and wouldn't even chat about why he didn't want it.
Well anyway, I did his performance review and he's got loads of goals to meet this year—like being professional and respectful—in order to get a pay bump. Oh, and he's still gotta take those ten days off.
13. That’s Awkward
HR got a gripe that a top dog at our firm posted about a newbie being his Woman Crush Wednesday on LinkedIn. The woman in the limelight was chuffed. However, two ladies who missed out on the job weren't too thrilled and lodged the complaint.
14. Caught With His Pants Down
I work as a HR legal rep for a big grocery company. One staff member got flagged for vanishing during work, taking 30-minute "ghost" breaks without a solid reason. He even had the nerve to challenge it, pushing for an arbitration meeting an hour away.
Managers had recently installed cameras around the property. That's how we discovered the disturbing truth. On the day of the meeting, the guy brings his mom along, even though he's an adult. He claims he can't hear when he's needed at the front of the store, but I show him proof he's been off hiding, not working. I play a video from our new security cameras, and this kid goes pale—he's caught on tape, up-close-and-personal with a lady of the night.
Turns out, his girlfriend works in another department of the same store and saw it all. He ended up quitting, and she gave him the boot.
15. Second Hand Buyers Remorse
This lady once needed to complain about a co-worker who ordered a new TV to the office, not their house. She was annoyed because she felt like her co-worker was wasting money by buying the TV.
16. Workplace Hygiene PowerPoint Required
Someone was bummed out about a co-worker who stank like rotten chicken and stinky feet. It got so bad that nobody wanted to team up with stinky dude. We needed a "Cleanliness 101" chat for everyone, because pointedly telling Stinky wasn't an option. I think he picked up on it since he doesn't stink now and even got a haircut.
17. Anointed With Terrible Smells
We had a doctor at work who had a religious practice of applying strong-smelling oils five times a day at work. It was so bad we had to get HR involved since we all had to endure the smell. When he realized how bad the odor was, he reduced it significantly.
18. When The Problem Is Much Closer To Home
The latest drama happened when a colleague asked me to remind everyone not to overdo it with fragrant lotions, because her workspace smelled like a Moroccan oil factory. Emails like that can cause a big fuss. Everyone starts panicking, and I end up telling half the office that they don't stink, and, oh, do keep using your deodorants!
I suggested we talk to the person directly and asked who it was. After a bit of detective work sniffing around the cubicles, we located the smell.
It was coming from her own desk drawer. But we couldn't find the smelly offender, so she chucked everything out. Problem solved!
19. Somone Doesn’t Like Marshmallows
At my last gig, there was this total tool in the office. Skipping the rundown, one annoying thing he did was rat me out to HR over a mini catapult I kept on my desk. Just a little toy that hurls mini marshmallows, you know? Well, he called it a "weapon" and got HR involved. Once they knew it wasn’t harmful and just a toy, they asked me nicely to take it home to avoid a ruckus. So guess what? I took it home.
20. The Balloon Incident
A quality manager gave balloons to customer service staff taking lots of calls as a little surprise when they arrived to work. A rep who wasn't doing so well said it was unfair and kicked up a fuss. We're a union shop, so she filed a complaint. The reason she gave was ridiculous. She was saying the balloons were an unequal bonus.
Our union contract says every rep—the person taking loads of calls in an 8-hour shift and the person barely handling any calls and always passing them off to a supervisor—must be treated equally. The rep who filed the complaint got a free day of 'union business', meaning her poor stats that day didn't count. The perfect excuse to take it easy and blame her low numbers on missing just half an hour of phone time.
To fix the issue, the manager had to give everyone a balloon. It's stuff like this that gives unions a bad name.
21. Bathrooms Aren’t The Appropriate Place
Someone griped to HR about me being "rude and standoffish". I had to clue in the HR boss that this person caught me off guard while I was taking a leak. As I'm doing my thing, they start ranting about their computer issue. Instead of telling them "zip it, restart your computer, and give me a break", I simply said "please submit a ticket for me".
22. I Wasn’t Just A Muffin
So there was this chick who was totally nuts about mini muffins. She'd lug a dozen to work almost every day of the week. Never bothered to label them or anything, just dumped them on the 'free-for-all' counter.
One day, a newbie mistakenly munched one of the muffins. Chaos broke loose. Shouts, tears, flying pastries, threats...the whole nine yards.
I had to fill out a report on how the ruckus kicked off 'cause another gal had 'trespassed on her mini muffins.' And the whole time this woman's flipping her lid and bawling, like someone had chowed down on her only child. Over a muffin.
23. Not The Brightest Bulbs In The Room
So I had to step in between two techie dudes once. One swore the other had slammed a super-bright light bulb in his desk lamp just to tick him off. End of the day, I found myself scrounging around a dim, musty closet to find a bulb that'd keep everyone happy.
24. That’s A Lot of Overtime
So I used to be a bartender, and often got roped into sticking around to help customers before I could punch out. One day, I get hauled before HR with a manager. This guy starts bellyaching about me clocking up a load of overtime recently. Now, the HR head asks him for facts but the best he can do is a vague 'a lot'. No evidence, zip.
So the HR boss checks my timecard and makes a hilarious discovery. It turns out over the last two weeks I'd racked up a grand total of 23 extra minutes. The HR guy and I shot each other a 'can you believe this?' look, both blown away this manager was kicking up a fuss about less than an hour of overtime.
25. The Problem With Crunchy Apples
I'm in Human Resources. Funny story, someone once complained about another person munching an apple too loudly.
26. Probably Shouldn’t Work In An Office
Two co-workers have been bothered by another employee's loud mouse clicking and typing.
27. Some People Are Really Sensitive To Temperature
In our firm, last spring, the door was left open for a short while when people were carrying stuff to the company vehicle. The following day, a complaint came in that it was too chilly.
28. Some People Have No Sense of Humor
A manager from a different department popped into my office to mention that her team could hear one of my team members laughing.
29. The Poison Ivy Problem
Someone thought that there was poison ivy growing in the tiny gap between the parking lot and sidewalk. They said they got a rash from it while walking into the building and insisted we should cover their day off work. But actually, there was no poison ivy at all.
30. When You Really Don’t Like Someone
Someone told HR an employee was giving them weird looks. When I asked how, they said, "Not sure, but if it doesn't stop, I'll get a lawyer.” After some digging, turns out they've never even been in the same room before.
31. He Couldn’t Escape The Lesser Cars
So, this one dude at my old job got a new ride and he'd always park it away from the other cars. He was extra proud of his new BMW and made sure everyone knew just how much it cost (even though it really wasn't all that much). He'd park it far away, saying it was too good to be near our "inferior" vehicles.
A couple of us decided to have some fun with him. We parked our cars right next to his, still within the lines though. He'd spot it during break, freak out and move his car elsewhere in the lot. And guess what, we'd do the same.
This went on for about a week until he moaned about it to HR and demanded they warn us for parking near his car. HR refused to do that, but they did ask us to quit it because the guy was becoming a nuisance.
32. Serious Dedication To Oatmeal
One time, I got a two-page rant from a coworker kicking up a fuss about the oatmeal brand dished up in the canteen.
33. A Wild Dog Story
So, a guy got the boot from his job for slacking off, and also because he pulled some prejudiced stuff. He also went all ninja, kicking a trash can across the place. His boss fired him on the spot, and the dude just grabbed his gear and split.
A couple days later, guess what? Corporate calls. Our HR rep says they got a complaint. This woman says she was strollin' past our warehouse when a dog came barreling out and decided to treat her car like a chew toy before running back inside. According to her, we're on the hook for this and if we don't do squat, she's threatening to get the cops and the media involved.
But something was off about her story. First off, she claims it all happened on a Sunday, but we're closed on Sundays. Plus, none of the people who've got keys to the place were anywhere near the warehouse at the time of the alleged dog attack. Secondly, our door self-latches. It's set about three feet high, so a dog could potentially reach it, but you can't open it from outside without a key. Thirdly, we've got a camera trained on the front door. There's no trace of any rogue dog on the footage.
Turns out, after a bit more digging, this woman pulling the dog act is actually the girlfriend of the guy we fired. The boss eventually hired him back a year later, but guess what? He got the axe again for not stepping up his game.
34. The Booger Conspiracy
So, there was this goofy situation where someone allegedly flicked a booger on the HR lady's PC. She totally flipped out, thinking it was a personal attack and even considering a DNA test to nab the booger bandit. Oh, and in case you're curious, she doesn't work here anymore.
35. Kathy Had A Problem With The Nose
HR hauled me in for sniffling, which totally ticked me off. It's just a silly whine, honestly. I've been visiting doctors and specialists to sort out my nose issues. So yeah, I can't help the sniffling - it's something we all do. But Kathy, she had to kick up a fuss, thinking I was "too loud" and annoying.
36. Sometimes You Need More Than One A Year
I was getting multiple angry calls and emails every day for a week from the wife of the current CFO. And the reason why was ridiculous. The lady sending the nastygrams and rage calls is complaining because she just found out that her husband's current dental plan does not offer her, the spouse of an employe, more than one cleaning per year.
She was outraged that she had to pay $100 for her second dental appointment this year, and it was only July. How many cleanings per year do you need? Many of her calls and emails included threats that her husband will "fix our dental plan".
I still tried my best to be nice to this lady but had to point out that when she and her husband signed up for benefits, they did have the option of an even more ridiculously generous package which would have given her more money to put towards dental insurance. The lady still isn't happy, and it looks like the angry messages will continue for a while. Lord have mercy on her husband, the CFO.
37. It Was Only Spaghetti
Got a funny HR complaint once. An employee butt dialed a customer, who thought they overheard some naughty business happening. But, nope, wasn't hanky-panky—it was the sound of the employee munching on spaghetti.
38. The Bread Is Better On The Other Side
An employee complained to HR because the doctors' break room had nicer bread than the one in the med techs' break room.
39. I Wonder Why They Said No
A dude complained to HR since the firm would hoist a pride flag during pride month. His gripe wasn't over the pride flag, but rather because they wouldn't raise his confederate flag.
40. Not Safe For Work
This guy who was transitioning once complained to me because he couldn't wear dresses and heels at work. But there was a twist. It wasn't being done out of prejudice. Our safety rules say no one, dude or chica, can dress up that fancy because it's a hazard. He tried once, but got sent home. That just made him more furious.
41. Not Your Usual A/C Problem
A techie on my team was having a few gripes. One that I tackled personally was about the A/C vent above his cubicle blasting chilly air all over him. I tried rigging up a makeshift shield, but that didn't do the trick. So, next time our HVAC pro popped in, I asked him to consider changing up the ventilation. Funny thing was, it didn't exist. The presumed vent over my guy's workspace wasn’t hooked up to anything.
42. The Problem Is Literally In Your Head
A dude went to HR, moaning about a device with a red LED in the area. He was sure it was shooting out electromagnetic waves and causing his headaches. But the contraption was just a security sensor, meant to detect any shattered glass. The red LED light was the only energy it was giving off.
43. Is There An Age Limit On Hairspray?
So, at this job I had, they caught a chick inhaling hairspray in the loo. The bosses saw the security footage and blamed me, saying I sold it to her on purpose. I was like, 'I'm not gonna ask for ID when someone buys hairspray, guys'.
44. 4 Minutes Was All It Took
When I was 16, I worked the early-bird shift at McDonald's, which no one else liked. I'd arrive at 5:30 AM to open shop for the weekend.
One morning, at 5:00 AM, while getting ready for work, I got a call. Apparently, the boss was looking over my timecards. Six months back, my lunch break had been 26 minutes instead of the required 30. This, apparently, broke company rules.
I tried explaining that we were swamped and my manager asked me back early to help with the lunch hour rush. But, the boss who called ignored my explanation. He insisted that I should've known better and refusing to break rules was on me. He said they couldn't employ a rule breaker.
With little notice, I was sacked. I later discovered the disturbing reason why. It was a cheap move to dodge my pay rise. As I'd been working since I was 14, I'd earned a nice bump in pay. They dumped me just before this milestone.
45. When Your Boss Really Dislikes You
I caught a cold, used up all my tissues and had to resort to bathroom trips to use loo roll for my nose. Ends up, I got reported to HR for nicking toilet paper—and the same boss who reported me had once chucked a stapler at my head.
46. She Really Needed The Money
So, HR had to step in when a coworker tried to hawk her old sports bras in the breakroom. Turns out she was just trying to scrape together some extra cash for her MLM side hustle.
47. Free Tampons For All
I used to be part of the boss-crew at a company with 50 workers. During our usual weekly meet-up, the person in charge of production told us that one of the guys working the machines complained. He thought it was unfair that the women's bathroom had a free tampon dispenser and the men's didn't.
48. Water Is For Employees Only
I'm on a diet where I have to drink loads of water, so I always have a 1L Nalgene bottle with me. I'm a manager at a company with 60 people. When I finish work, I top up my bottle from the water cooler for the trip home. Yesterday, I was doing this when our office manager came up and said, "You're done for the day, the water is only for when you're working". I thought she was joking or having a bad day, so I shrugged it off and went home. Well, I was in for an unpleasant surprise.
Turns out, she wasn't joking. When I got to work the next day, I found an email from her to me, my boss (our CEO) and our HR. She was saying I was stealing from the company, that I didn't stop and apologize when she told me off and that she had reported the incident.
Everyone found it hilarious, my boss even had a good laugh on the phone with me. One of my colleagues even wrote "is staying hydrated good for the company"? on my water bottle. Though, our office manager isn't too happy and gives me dirty looks when she walks by.
49. That Didn’t Go How She Expected
My boss wrote me up once for "stealing" trash. My job was to take care of the garbage, and I'd sort out recyclables like paper, soda cans, and water bottles. Our trash company had a deal where we'd earn money based on how much we recycled. We were banking $1,500 a month and didn't pay a penny for garbage collection.
To cut to the chase, I got in trouble for taking "company time" to sort the recycling. When I stopped, our boss was ticked that she had to pay for trash collection. She called the trash company only to find out that we hadn't paid for garbage service in two years because we recycled so much—we got a $1,500 cheque and free rubbish pick-up.
She thought these cheques were her personal bonus or something. Then, the district manager noticed I was written up for "garbage theft" and called me to ask what's up. After I explained, he gave me kudos for my work.
The next day, he flew in to talk with my boss. He asked her what happened to the $20k she got from the trash company over the last years. She tried to throw me under the bus, but he fired her on the spot. After she was gone, he called me into his office. He told me about their talk and offered me an Assistant Manager position.
50. When It Rains It Pours
I used to work at this huge meds company in sunny San Diego, right, where rain is like a ceremony so umbrellas are basically decorations. The day of the Christmas party rolls in and it's raining! Luckily, they have loaner umbrellas at the security desk.
Grabbing an umbrella, off I went to the party. It was a blast! But at 10pm, as I was heading home, my boss rings. He asks, "Did you take an umbrella"? I said yep, planning to bring it back tomorrow. His response? "Nope, return it now. You won't believe the drama it's caused".
Apparently, unbeknownst to me, you're supposed to return the umbrella the same day, like dash back from the car then return it. A very grumpy colleague of mine couldn't find an umbrella at the desk, and the security dude, equally grumpy, told her I took one hours ago and hadn't returned it.
She went ballistic, complained to HR, the building manager, my boss, just about anyone. She went on about how I'd shattered some sacred umbrella pact or something. Fortunately, people chilled out and everything cooled down, but for a while there, you'd think I'd swiped the formula for the cure to cancer instead of borrowing an umbrella!