Whether it’s softball games or polar bear plunges, it can be difficult to draw the line between what extracurricular activities are fair or foul in the workplace.
That’s the lesson learned by scientists and researchers at McMurdo Base in Antarctica. After an investigation by the U.S. Office of the Inspector General and the National Science Foundation, an employee was terminated for organizing and participating in a Jell-O wrestling match.
The event was held in a vehicle maintenance facility and was attended by most of the base’s staff, including New Zealanders from the nearby Scott Base.
After he was sacked, the event organizer sent an e-mail to the entire staff of the base, claiming he would file a suit for wrongful termination at the hand of the “fun nazis” — better known as Raytheon Polar Services, the contractor in charge of most of the base’s operations.
The former employee also argues that no one was hurt during the event, as opposed to the five MedEvacs that were required a few months earlier during a Raytheon-sponsored softball game. Additionally, no equipment was damaged, no one complained to HR and no nudity was involved — the “Polar Plunge” that occurred hours earlier involved plenty of skin, but no terminations resulted from it.
Other staff members have claimed every time they’re at the base, “the place just seems more and more emotionally beat down.”
“I know it is a workplace, but they are sucking all the fun out of the place,” said another researcher.