Each year brings with it plenty of examples of employees caught doing dumb things while on the job, and 2012 was no exception. From the auto-dealership worker who was accused of faking her own kidnapping to the small-town clerk who stole $53 million from taxpayers to the teacher who allegedly ordered her students to bully another child, workers proved yet again that there's no shortage of ingenuity when it comes to behaving stupidly.
What's more, advances in technology mean that many more such examples are being caught on video -- whether by cameras on cell phones or through surveillance -- and increasingly winding up on social media sites, such as Facebook and YouTube, or shared with the media.
With that in mind, AOL Jobs has compiled a list of the five dumbest things employees did on video this year. The compilation is by no means comprehensive, but these examples do represent some of the more entertaining stories we've reported this year. Take a look and tell us: What's the dumbest thing you heard (or saw) an employee do this year?
It's no secret that many Walmart workers are unhappy about the wages they earn and hours they work, which is what led to several protests ahead of Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year. Earlier this year, though, four workers at a Walmart in Pikeville, Ky., felt that they had better way to express their job frustrations -- by tossing and purposely dropping iPads in the store's stockroom, while recording the destruction. The video of the incident, which reportedly happened in August, found its way on to YouTube, and the workers were fired.
Employees who rely on tips for the bulk of their income have no shortage of ways to express their dissatisfaction in not getting tipped. In Iowa, however, a delivery driver took venting his disdain to a whole new level, by peeing on the door of a customer who simply didn't have enough money to tip him. A surveillance camera caught the act, and after the owner of the local Pizza Hut franchise was called and advised of the incident, the driver was, umm, relieved of his job.
You'd think a government employee would know better than to drive drunk -- especially when responding to a call to investigate a potential crime. But the coroner of Hancock, Ind., did just that in May, and it was all caught on video. Tamara Vangundy showed up at the crime scene stumbling, swaying and reeking of alcohol, according to police. After failing breathalyzer tests, she was arrested and charged with two misdemeanors. Vangundy pleaded guilty to the charges and in August was sentenced to a year of probation. She also resigned her position.
Reading a newspaper while operating a mass-transit vehicle carrying hundreds of people is potentially dangerous. But that's exactly what a passenger witnessed last June, recording video of the incident on a cell phone aimed through the window of the engineer's compartment on a Metro-North train, as it rolled into New York City's Grand Central Terminal. The employee in question, whom the Metropolitan Transit Authority declined to identify, was reportedly suspended. After news of the incident leaked to the media, other train engineers responded -- not by refusing to read while on duty, but by covering up their windows, preventing watchful riders from peering into their cabs.
Times may be tough, but that's no excuse for stealing from the needy. Yet that's exactly what Brice Miller, a veteran police officer of the DeLand Police Department in Florida was seen doing last May, when surveillance video on two occasions showed a patrol car stopping in the back of a Goodwill store in DeLand. Miller was identified as the likely culprit after his patrol car's number, PD 65, was seen in the video. Faced with possible termination, Miller decided to instead retire -- two years sooner than he had planned.
News anchors Larry Potash and Robin Baumgarten thought that they were breaking a major story live on the air as a TV news helicopter beamed images of a plane crashed on a major Chicago thoroughfare. As it turned out, the scene was staged for the NBC series, "Chicago Fire." The news team soon learned via their headsets that they erred in reporting the location shoot as a real emergency, leaving a frazzled Baumgarten to repeatedly ask, "Are you kidding me?"
David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. Follow David on Twitter. Email David at email@example.com. Add David to your Google+ circles.