Workers Run Half-Naked As Punishment For Missing Sales Targets
Some ancient traditions don't hang back when it comes to punishment -- cutting off the hands of thieves, castrating rapists, tarring and feathering anyone people didn't like. But when a group of employees failed to make sales goals in China's Sichuan Province, their company decided to go old school, demanding that they run 10 kilometers, half-naked, in the cold.
The punishment was more prankish than cruel, as reported by the Chengdu Business Daily (and picked up in English by the South China Morning Post). At the beginning of last year, the employees agreed to "streak" if they failed to meet performance goals, an office administrator told the Chengdu newspaper.
So when the day of reckoning arrived, the more than 20 employees, who worked in the marketing department of a local food company, stripped to their shorts and went for a team jog (the women only had to wear light clothing, and run half the distance).
These kinds of unorthodox punishments are rarely seen in the U.S., where creative penalties could easily prompt lawsuits. There's nothing illegal in itself about making workers go for a group run, but depending on the exact orders, it could run afoul of sexual harassment (the mandated nudity), workplace safety (the cold), and disability laws (the running), according to AOL Jobs blogger and employment lawyer Donna Ballman.
American workplaces usually reserve the hijinks for team-building exercises. And even these have led to messy legal entanglements, such as the case of the woman who sued her employer for being spanked -- in the name of bonding -- and was awarded $1.7 million.
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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin. Follow Claire on Twitter. Email Claire at firstname.lastname@example.org. Add Claire to your Google+ circles.more...