William Ernst, a grocery chain store owner has been slammed by a judge after offering his staff a $10 prize for correctly guessing which of them he was going to fire next.
William Ernst, 57, was branded the “the boss from hell” after sending a memo offering the cash prize to workers at his QC Mart convenience stores in Iowa and Illinois.
William Ernst’s memo warned employees that “secret shoppers” were being dispatched to QC Mart stores checking that cashiers weren’t breaking the rules.
The “secret shoppers” would be looking out for workers wearing a hat, talking on a cellphone, not wearing a QC Mart shirt, having someone hanging around the counter or having their car parked by the pumps after 7:00 p.m.
Misty Shelsky, who worked as a cashier at a QC store in Bettendorf, Iowa, was one of several employees to quit in disgust after receiving William Ernst‘s memo.
But when Misty Shelsky applied for unemployment benefits William Ernst challenged the claim arguing she had resigned voluntarily and the dispute ended up at a hearing.
Misty Shelsky explained to the Des Moines Register newspaper how she and fellow workers had reacted after receiving the memo saying:
“It was very degrading.
“We looked at that, then looked at each other, and said, <<OK, we’re done>>.”
QC Mart Area Supervisor Anna DeFrieze said William Ernst had created the contest because employees were routinely breaking company rules.
Anna DeFrieze said: “None of them were doing their job.
“They’ve repeatedly been told not to use their phone while they’re working, that bad language is totally unacceptable and, you know, playing video games while you’re working is not acceptable.
“They just broke all those rules.”
However, administrative Law Judge Susan Ackerman described the contest as “egregious and deplorable”.
The judge said: “The employer’s actions have clearly created a hostile work environment by suggesting its employees turn on each other for a minimal monetary prize.
The claimant has established this was an intolerable and detrimental work environment.”
Misty Shelsky was awarded full unemployment benefits.