As much as we should all love our jobs, our workplaces can sometimes be an annoying place. Most of the time, that annoyance comes from pesky coworkers who, no matter how hard you try, you simply cannot get on board with. The worst of these types are the ones that seem to get away with anything. Here are the worst things employees have seen a coworker do without getting fired:
#1 Honest Mistake
Within my first few months out of college, working as a design engineer, I copy and pasted what I then realized was a confidential, proprietary design that we created for a competitor of the client. My boss admitted blame—he signed off and certified it without realizing I had copied it from a proprietary job until I told him that was my reference material after the job was issued.
We have a big database of industry-standard reference material we use, but he also said I could use previous jobs as reference designs. However, I was unaware at the time that some of our corporate designs were proprietary. We agreed that at the level of experience I was at and the training I was given I wasn't fully expected to know that at that stage. Needless to say, I've not done it again.
#2 The Public Folder
I had a boss storing pictures of himself in only his wide-open bathrobe on company servers. It was reported to HR but he wasn’t fired for it. Later, he was arrested as part of an undercover sting. The images were stored in a shared folder used by a few employees. The guy was our IT manager so he should have known better than storing them there. The pictures must have been taken using an office camera because digital cameras were very expensive at that time and the company had a few.
Before he left for the weekend, he had asked to use the digital camcorder I had for work. He told me he needed it to make a video of his home possessions for insurance purposes but I was suspicious of that, so I told him I needed it for work. We found out he was arrested when he called the computer room from jail. This was later in the evening when he no-showed for work that day.
#3 That's Illegal
An HR rep found out about a person’s elective surgery and made fun of her with a former employee. Let me recap: this person knew about an employee’s private medical information, because she worked with our healthcare plan in her role as HR, and shared that private information with another person for the sole purpose of mocking the employee. She was not fired.
#4 Novice Errors
Drilling holes man; always makes me tense. The worst I've done is hitting a pipe and have it burst inside a wall. Fortunately, I was able to locate a shut-off valve before the walls got flooded. Problem was that this was in a nail salon and their pedicure stations were down until the plumber could come and fix it... which came out of my paycheck, of course. And then the one time my 1 1/14 bit went through this fancy house's hardwood floor from the basement up. My first couple of years on the job were rough.
#5 Closing Early
I know someone who managed to close an entire supermarket early for the first time in its history (costing the company several thousands of dollars) because they tried to set a clock on a computer back an hour to avoid missing some deadline for a daily routine. He said it seemed such a good idea at the time. Because it was an honest mistake, he didn't get fired for it. He's lucky, to be honest.
#6 The Credit Mooch
The worst coworker ever was the credit mooch. He would constantly horn in on other people’s projects and get his name added to them to make it look like he was doing work when he actually not. If people tried to assign him any work on the project, he would have “a personal emergency” or “a virus would make him lose all his work” or the worst: he would pull some sucker in to “help” him with it, and said sucker would end up doing it all in utter frustration.
Because he was so good at stealing credit, he managed to get top marks on his reviews despite doing absolutely zero actual work for the company. I know at least four people quit due to this guy getting better raises than they did. As far as I know, they never actually got rid of him.
#7 Giving An Ultimatum
A guy at my wife's old job was brought in because he was really good at selling the services they provided. He proceeded to send sensitive pictures to the women at work and solicit pictures back from them. Women told him to stop or they'd take it up with management and it subsided some. Then, he solicited pictures from a new girl who asked my wife about it and my wife went to management with everything. She gave them an ultimatum: either this guy's out or I'm quitting. Well, she quit. The guy's still there but most of the original female staff has quit.
#8 A Justified Act
I'm an assistant manager at a Valvoline Instant Oil Change. I was dealing with an unreasonable customer that had just spit at a female employee that he didn’t want to work in his car. He didn’t know that the guy under his car was her boyfriend. The guy came up the steps, grabbed an oil gun, and started pumping 10W30 All Climate into the guy’s window as he was frantically trying to start the car and roll up the window.
The employee was reprimanded pretty hard (he was suspended for a week), but it was understood why he did it. No charges were filed, and the franchise owner paid a lot of money to have the guy’s car cleaned. Obviously, I never saw the customer again.
#9 Off-White Dress
This would have been 12 years ago now. Our oil gun locks never worked properly, so for the most part we always had to hold the trigger arm down to pump in the oil. No big deal, probably better anyway. But the locks also prevent accidentally opening the valve when they would get caught on the oil gun rack...facing the passenger side of a car...with a woman's brand new $4,000 bridal dress sitting uncovered in the front seat.
It was a complete accident and thankfully the manager was there when it happened. I took the top side guy who was visibly upset (verge of tears, guilty feeling) out the back door, talked him down, told him to take a long on the clock lunch. The customer's fiance came up later that day to apologize for his future bride being rightfully ticked off at us.
Two days later, the corporate maintenance guy for our chain was replacing and testing every single gun on the rack. We had to suspend the guy for not "following procedures" and he quit while on suspension. But it could have been literally anybody in the store that day.
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#10 Smelling Nonsense
I had a co-worker as a standard business practice falsely condemn furnaces in winter to pressure homeowners into buying new systems and pad his commission check. I couldn’t do anything as I had no direct proof, but he would joke about it all the time. It did finally catch up with him when one customer smelled nonsense and called other companies with advanced testing machines. He took those results and sued the heck out of him. I ended up working for that second company and haven’t looked back.
#11 The $1,200 Quote
My dad and my stepmom got a plumber to give them a quote to install a gas line for their generator, and they tried charging them $1,200 for giving a quote (and the quote was even more ridiculous). But they made the mistake of telling my dad what had to be done, so he turned off the gas, installed the line himself, got a different plumber to verify his work, then turned back on the gas. My dad reported that plumber to his company for lying about the prices but obviously he never got fired for it.
#12 Playing With Fire
A member of our senior management—literally the second top of the tree—was recently promoted into that position and given quite a grand-sounding job title. A guy I work with was emailing a former colleague and basically badmouthed every single person, including myself, in our team with some homophobic and bigoted remarks.
To make matters worse, he also badmouthed the senior manager who had been promoted, went into the company address book to copy and paste his new job title, and accidentally cc'd him into the email chain. He was given a final written warning and sent on a diversity awareness course. Still don't know how he kept his job.
#13 A Broken Fuselage
I work for a private jets company and heard that two employees started to play baseball on the construction line. One guy was throwing balls of paper while the other was trying to hit them with a metal rod. Well, the metal rod slipped out of his hands and went through the fuselage. The thing is you can’t just patch a hole in a fuselage, so it was basically ruined. Not sure if he was fired.
#14 Aerospace Headaches
Aerospace engineer here. Many times, I've seen technicians destroy subassemblies or components worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars just by plumbing them up wrong for a test or something. Usually, the process is blamed, i.e., the person shouldn't have been able to make that mistake, even if it was thoughtless, and the operators themselves aren't held liable.
#15 Lucky Loophole
We had an IT guy that was stealing old laptops after we replaced them for employees with new ones. Funny thing was that we didn't give him a raise for five years since we knew about it, and apparently he didn't want to quit either out of fear of being discovered or due to the extra money he was making. His raise would have been worth more than the laptops so we just let it continue.
#16 Fraudulent Practices
He did nothing. He'd been documenting work as completed when no actual work had been done. Management knew or was suspicious of it, but not so much as a write-up or reprimand. Eventually, management changed, figured out no work was being done, called it fraud, and canned him. The job was easy too, and good money. I don't get why they didn't just do the work.
#17 Playing Dumb
I had an analyst who joined the team from an acquisition. The deliverables were quarterly. Everything was fine for about a year. Then I started getting the occasional escalation about overdue work or missing work. I addressed it and the employee assured me they’re working on it. No big deal. We all got behind. But after another full quarter and more frequent issues, I decided to look into all her customers.
Turned out, the analyst wasn’t doing anything until the customer asked for it. They played dumb that they “didn’t know they had to do it” despite me training them. HR required a performance improvement period. The employee changed and got all their backlog done in the 60-day period and was not fired.
#18 Full-On Harassment
Full-on harassment. (Little back story: I work in a private country club-style banquet event space). A tipsy, on-the-job manager pinned an hourly server against the wall during a nighttime wedding reception. She punched him in the ribs and tried pushing him off of her. We all saw it. We all reported to HR. Another manager physically removed him from her. This was about four months ago and he’s still in his position. She quit due to him telling everyone she’d lied about the entire situation.
#19 The Sociopath
My telemarketing coworker was very obviously a psycho or sociopath. He showed up late every shift by definition and had quite a temper with authority, but he would often just cause trouble out of boredom, by his own admission. The most controversial thing he did one particular day was address every client he spoke to by the 'n' word.
Once the manager heard him, he yelled at him outside for 20 minutes and that was the end of it. A week later, this co-worker denied it had ever happened before going on a tangent about how he liked to start arguments with his girlfriend just to see her cry. Freaking sociopath.
#20 Karma's On It
A coworker jumped out from behind a door at my husband, who is a disabled combat veteran with PTSD, dressed as if he was from the Middle East. He was literally trying to trigger a flashback. No repercussions, as he was the boss’ friend. Two weeks later, he fell down some icy steps and broke both legs. Karma took care of that one.
#21 The Wrong Offence
Like, literally nothing for two years? She would sit at her desk and crochet all day. She supervised 13 people and basically held them hostage in hours-long, rant-based "meetings" multiple times per week. Her lack of working held projects up constantly. She finally got fired for embezzling from her church, not for never freaking doing her job.
#22 Let Him Go
I have a coworker that has a terrible work ethic. He doesn't know how to separate his personal life from his work life so if he's in a bad mood (which happens often), everyone will know including customers. He's had at least three disciplinary meetings. Once, he was caught just messing around for an hour (not exactly sure what happened but our boss wasn't happy). Another time, he just didn't show up to work without calling in, and it was a day that everyone knew would be busy. I don't know why he hasn't been fired yet, everywhere else I've worked he would've been gone by now.
#23 The Leverage
I had a coworker like that at the last restaurant I worked at. Terrible to work with. He actually got fired on three occasions for no-shows on New Year's Eve, getting frustrating and yelling at a guest, and being overly sarcastic with multiple other guests to the point where they called corporate to complain. He was also just the worst person to work with: lazy, annoying, etc. Yet he kept getting hired back on within a week.
I didn't understand until the night a bunch of us were hanging out together after work and he was a little tipsy. I just straight up asked how he still had a job. So, he pulled out his phone and showed me pics of our GM doing illegal things at a party. I was surprised and yet somehow relieved at the same time.
#24 She Tried It
Oh, man. It was wintertime and she was helping a customer by carrying something they had purchased out for them. Once outside (but still on the store property), she slipped and sustained an injury. She was threatening to sue the business and was also trying to claim worker's compensation. She came into work every day with a sling on her arm, constantly wincing and being in pain.
Anyway... HR and the store manager called her into a meeting, sat her down and showed her the video surveillance from OUTSIDE (which she obviously didn't know was there), showing her faking her fall. I don't know everything but she got called out hard and she broke down, admitting everything. For some reason, they kept her on.
She then tried it AGAIN like six months later (this time claiming that a customer had something from their cart hit her or fall on her or something). Again, she tried to claim worker's compensation and had this whole show of being injured. They pulled up security footage AGAIN and disprove her injury and claims. She still wasn't fired.
#25 Pure Ignorance
One of my former coworkers (she has since been fired for stealing customers lottery winnings) told an elderly woman that she was stupid for not knowing how to pump gas. This woman’s husband had recently passed and he had always pumped the gas for her, so she never learned. I had horrible second-hand embarrassment when the woman came in and told us (we relayed it to the manager).
#26 On The Clock
I worked for an organization that had a small maintenance department. It only consisted of two guys. They both hated their jobs and felt underpaid, so they were applying to other jobs. They both left work without telling anyone they were leaving to go to the same job interview. On the clock.
The job interview also happened to be for a job at a sister location for our office. And they both used our manager as a reference. She got a phone call within minutes of their interviews and collected their un-stamped time cards before they even got back to the office. She had them dead to rights for wage theft.
But it also took two months to fill any position at our organization because of crushing bureaucracy for job postings. And the lawn needed to be mowed before the weekend. They both got to keep their jobs. They were still working there six months later when I left.
#27 Random Outburst
I worked at a convenience store in a mall. We had lotto, and I had this worker who people called "Crazy Joe." Sometimes, when people are doing lotto, they take a long time picking out tickets. So Joe was waiting on a guy, and he was taking a while, and a line was forming, pretty long. Joe looked at the line and yelled out: "Does anyone have something I can use to end myself?" He then stormed off but he was not fired.
#28 Garden Center Buddy
I work in a garden center, and this just happened today. Buddy has only worked ONE (today) of his scheduled shifts in the past two weeks. He calls in all the time, leaves a message with the cashiers, and hangs up before a manager can talk to him. On the off chance he does show up, he doesn’t do anything besides move some plants around. Heck, my mom was walking through the garden center today and saw him squatted behind a stack of plants playing on his phone.
Further, the guy takes multiple unauthorized breaks a day and sits in his car for at least an hour because his “back hurts.” He has had two write-ups for missing work and somehow this lazy kid is still on the payroll. He’s a jerk toward both coworkers and customers alike. The sheer consistency of his laziness is baffling to me.
#29 Heck No
I had a sharp object pulled on me in the workplace in addition to multiple threats uttered against me. All for being honest and competent. All those people still work there; the Carpentry Department, North Vancouver School District. HR dragged them all in after I resigned... and laid down the law. But all those psychopaths still work there around children. I have documentation to prove this. They offered me my job back. I said, ”Heck, no!”
#30 Dozing Off
I work in a pretty professional environment so the worse thing I've ever seen was my coworker falling asleep as the head of our department starting announcing layoffs. She was not one of the people who were fired that day and she still falls asleep in meetings today. I don't work there anymore and I still get updates about where she last passed out. Those people that tell me work with her but they are not her co-workers.
#31 The Untouchables
I was part of the accounting staff and we had someone brought in to do data entry. His sole job was to take the paperwork and enter the relevant details into the accounting software. I went on maternity leave, then returned about 12 weeks later to loads of phone calls and emails from vendors asking why they hadn't been paid. I looked at the P&L, was like: "Why the heck didn't anyone else notice expenses were way down? And why aren't we paying anyone?"
Turns out, the data entry guy was entering a couple of bills per day, then chucking the rest into some random file drawer. I had to clean up all his nonsense, then got reamed by the CFO about having too much expense in the one time period. Nothing happened to him. He ended up leaving on his own. When his next job didn't work out, they wanted to bring him back. It was a smallish company, and if you were the right religion you were untouchable.
#32 Blame The Bird
He knocked over a shelf with over $100k worth of very expensive equipment on it. A bird had flown into the room from a large opened window, and in the attempt to corral the bird he knocked over the shelf. He just said the bird did it, no repercussions. To be honest, though, it was a pretty good cover-up... He's so lucky that bird flew in at that moment.
#33 Food Smuggler
I worked in a college dining hall and towards the end of one of the meals once, I saw a co-worker take an entire pizza, fold it in half, saran wrap it, and stick it in her shirt. Then she took an entire apple pie, saran wrapped it as well and stuck it in the back of her shirt. She proceeded to walk by the manager on the way out the door with grease and crumbs dripping the whole time and he didn't question it at all.
I am a lead supervisor with no firing power of any sort. I trained most of my baristas so they come to me with any issues. I had one supervisor that no one likes. She "jokingly" punched one of my baristas, and my barista is a stocky dude, so she used enough force to sway him a little bit. You can bet I was ticked off to heck and back when HR let her keep her job.
#35 Absolutely Nothing
Absolutely nothing. I have folks that I send emails to with no answer. I reply weekly, sometimes 7 to 10 weeks at a time, and they just ignore me. Occasionally, I'll walk into their office to ask about them, and they're quite obviously playing video games on their phone or watching YouTube videos on their computer. Yet I'm still held to the metrics that I can't reach because they won't do their part.
#36 You Got Lucky
I’m the coworker in this scenario. I dropped an antenna, causing about $15K in damage and labor costs to repair it. Complete negligence on my part and it could have been 100% avoided. My coworker could have been killed if he had been under it, too. The only thing that saved me was that the government reps weren’t on location, so they actually took the brunt of the blame. I didn’t get fired, suspended, or anything. All I got was a solid yell session from the head honcho but I went back to work like normal the next day, on the same project. Definitely cashed in all of my atta-boys on that one.
#37 Tipsy Teacher
Teaching English overseas, one of my co-workers was found tipsy and stumbling around, talking nonsense. This was at 7:30 a.m. in his classroom before school was open. His co-teacher stumbled on him passed out in the kiddie coat closet. He must have gotten in at night sometime. When they woke him, he went into a rambling speech about how he had to get to the local mall and get his shopping done. Then he walked out of the school and rode off on his scooter. He didn't teach that day, nor was he let go.
#38 Good Intentions
My friend is an assistant manager at a Home Depot. He’s told me about the constant shoplifters, and like most places, he’s not allowed to stop them for liability issues. One time, he just wasn’t having it when a guy tried to run out with a backpack full of tools and supplies. My friend just chased him out and grabbed the backpack in the guy’s hand.
Must have been a combination of him not expecting to be chased and because it was pouring rain, but the guy held onto the bag and slipped onto his back. Then he just ran away. Management there is pretty chill so after telling them about it nothing really happened to my friend. It was more of a “don’t ever do that again, but also... nice job.”
#39 Multiple Infractions
I didn’t actually see it, but I have heard so many stories about one of my coworkers. He's left his underwear on the floor in the bathroom, he’s eaten cinnamon and hot sauce then threw up, he's fallen off a ladder, and he's dropped a tray full of mugs (about 20 mugs)... He quit because he thought he had another job lined up, but he obviously didn’t, and then my boss rehired him! There are probably more stories that I can’t remember at the moment. Also when he was still in school, he kissed his crush in front of her boyfriend. When someone says idiot, he’s the first person to come to mind.
#40 How Far Can He Go?
My wife—she had a co-worker that literally punched a customer, but he wasn't fired. He later got into a physical altercation with another co-worker, and he still wasn't fired. Then he wrapped my wife's hair around her throat and "play choked" her. He still was not fired. Finally, he got into yet another altercation with a co-worker and pulled a dangerous object on him, all while on the clock. Then he was fired.
#41 Dangerously Lazy
A friend once told me that whenever she worked nights with a certain staff member, the patients were always really quiet. This was unusual as it was an acute, specialist ward and it could be mayhem. She then discovered that the staff member used to just give all the patients unprescribed sleeping tablets when they were on nights, to keep them quiet! This was years ago and I don't know what came of it, but wow.
#42 Whoopsie Daisy
He asked for the keys to the company website (WordPress admin privileges) and proceeded to corrupt and delete the entire website by changing the username of the Admin user. He would click 'no' when WordPress asked if he wanted to assign all the pages in the database to the new name... on his first day of work at the company. It was a fairly young startup and there was no backup of the site. That employee was me.
#43 Rough Day
My employees mostly work in the field but occasionally come into the office. I had an employee show up in the office in the middle of the day hammered tipsy, pass out at her desk, leave and start to drive home when instructed to wait for the off-site nurse to arrive and administer a test. She then got pulled over and given a DWI on her way home. She got a two-month suspension and returned to work on the last chance agreement. She eventually resigned when she was instructed to report for a test she was required to take under her last chance agreement.
#44 Undeserved Rewards
I worked in the airlines for about two years. The company I worked for was contracted, so we worked for like five different airlines. For a while, we would only have split shifts so we would work for three to four hours have a two- to three-hour break. I had one coworker who showed up tipsy at least three times. Her punishment was to only work one specific airline which actually gave her a more stable work schedule in the long run. I also had an assistant manager who harassed two of my male coworkers and his punishment was being promoted and transferred to another city.
#45 The Office Creep
I worked at a department store and there was a coworker who was harassing all the female employees. He even followed a customer into a dressing room and asked if he could watch her change. He had so many harassment complaints against him from employees and customers I couldn't believe he hadn't been fired. He finally did get fired only after he offered a drink to another coworker during work hours.
#46 Poor Dog
She claimed she gave meds to a dog that was boarding with us in the morning. Meanwhile, the dog had escaped our facilities overnight. She lied to cover herself and acted as if the dog was there in the morning, but it wasn’t, and it didn’t raise alarm bells for her that it wasn’t even there. We searched all day for the dog, and thankfully it was found. But the outcome could have been horrible, and she was never even reprimanded.
#47 Eggplant Emoji
One of my best friends had this guy at work who would make advances on her in front of their boss and coworkers. Also, she was engaged during all of this. Because she repeatedly told him no. He proceeded to spray paint her car. He was not caught on camera, but the spray paint was found in his locker. He was not fired, but eventually left the job on his own (he just stopped showing up to work). This guy is only referred to as the eggplant emoji in our group texts.
#48 No Notice
Our dishwasher didn't show up for three days over a weekend. On Monday, she showed up still wearing her jail clothes. She'd been arrested for DUI on Friday and couldn't see a judge until that morning. Kind of stopped caring about it when I realized not even missing three shifts with no notice because you were in jail didn't even get you fired.
#49 The Veteran
I was working as a recruiter at a bank. I was trying to hire a veteran and gave him a pretty solid offer for the experience he had. He messaged me back with what he wanted to be paid, plus an excel spreadsheet with people's salary information that even I didn't have access too. He said he got it from another veteran that worked at the company. He was hired and nobody did anything to the guy that gave our salary information to the candidate because they didn't want to rock the boat with the veteran community.
#50 What Will It Take?
I had a customer approach me privately to ask if a payment he'd made had been entered into the system. It seems a coworker had insisted on cash and pocketed the $700. For some reason, he wasn't fired. Fast forward two months and my manager has the police knocking on her door at home, asking if she knows this same coworker. Turns out, he'd swiped the registration sticker off her license plate and put it in his own car. He still didn't get fired! He was still working there two years later when I left.