If you work long enough, at some point, you’ll encounter one of the stereotypical "bad" employees. Like the slacker, who never shows up on time and makes avoiding work a full-time job in itself. Or the chatterbox, who keeps interrupting your flow with inane stories about her pet chihuahua.
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But even the most flagrant asshole in your office doesn’t compare to the basket-cases on this list. I’ve scoured the Interwebz to find the top 10 worst employees ever, and they all deserve a blue ribbon to be honest. Prostitution, terrorism, stealing from the dead—it’s all here.
Read on, and be thankful you don’t have to work with any of these people:
1. Maybe Just Call in Sick?
Like most of us, James Allen Bea just didn’t feel like going into work some days. But where you or I might pull the occasional sickie, Bea decided that nothing short of terrorism would suffice when it came to scoring a day off.
Just days into his new position at Seattle firm Jack Henry and Associates, Bea began sending dozens of bomb threats to shocked co-workers via text and email. He often went into unsettling, stalker-ish detail about their families and personal lives, and—being the scamp that he was—even circulated photos of his deceased brother splayed out in a coffin.
Described as "a sophisticated, calculated scheme that delivered waves of terror for weeks," police eventually traced the messages back to the feckless financial services worker and arrested him. But to Bea’s credit, the plan worked—he’s facing felony charges and won’t have to go to work for, oh, another 2-3 years at least.
2. The Not-So-Secret Service Scandal
The 2012 Summit of the Americas was a major get-together for international leaders in Cartagena, Colombia to discuss social and political issues affecting the western hemisphere. But forget all that—the best story from the event was about some U.S. Secret Service agents who decided to kick things off early.
Bored of waiting for their boss—President Obama—to arrive, 12 of the agents and a handful of military personnel decided to hire a bunch of Colombian prostitutes and host a sex party, as you do. After getting their drink on at the hotel bar, they brought about 20 local women upstairs and, well, you can imagine the rest.
Waking up the next morning in a queasy haze of embarrassment, one of the agents refused to pay his girl the $800 he’d promised her the night before. She ended up making a scene at the hotel and calling the police, which got the attention of local officials and the press. Naturally, the Prez was slightly miffed by all this, and most of the agents ended up getting the boot. Totally worth it, though.
3. Sh*tty Prank Goes Wrong
If you’ve ever had food stolen from the canteen in your workplace, you’ll know it’s pretty freakin’ annoying. An assistant manager at Family Dollar in Kansas was having just that problem and came up with a genius idea to get back at the culprit.
He planted two bottles of Coca-Cola—each laced with 25 laxative tablets—in the employee refrigerator, hoping the thief would swipe them and end up in a sticky mess. Unfortunately, the bottles found their way back onto store shelves and into the hands of a nice middle-aged lady instead.
The customer drank some of the tainted Coke, suffered "violent consequences" and ended up hospitalized. She went on to seek punitive damages in the six figures. Both the prankster and the thief were arrested and, presumably, fired for the incident. The lesson here? Always choose Pepsi.
4. The NSFW News Bulletin
Back in 2010, Australian bank Macquarie held a run-of-the-mill live interview with a national news channel from their offices in Sydney. The segment was about interest rates or something, but that’s not important.
If you look closely at the clip, one employee has clearly missed the memo about the live link as he spends most of the interview ogling naked pictures on his computer screen (apparently that’s Miranda Kerr he’s gawking at, so you can’t argue with his taste). Keep watching, and you’ll see the priceless moment when he realises what’s happening.
National hilarity ensued and, of course, Macquarie Bank launched an investigation. The guy probably got away with a slap on the wrist, but I imagine he would’ve been just as happy for the ground to open up and swallow him.
5. Tunes from the Crypt
There are some lines you just don’t cross. Unfortunately, no one mentioned this to Stephen Conard—groundskeeper at a Wisconsin cemetery. A musician and curator of fine instruments, Conard took it upon himself to liberate a $2,000 Fender guitar from the grave of a recently-deceased Army veteran, whose last wish was to be buried with his prized six-string.
Conard thought the instrument was too valuable to rot away with its owner, and in a later confession stated "this isn’t something I normally do." He might have gotten away with the fiendish deed, had the vet’s family not spotted the guitar missing just before the crypt was sealed.
Once Conard was found out, he was arrested and tried on the grim charge of "felony theft from person or corpse." The guitar was returned to the distraught family, and Conard was sentenced to 12 months of the jailhouse blues.
6. The First Rule of Fight Club Is...
Stephen Reid, a former hotel cleaner from Aberdeen, Scotland earns a place on our list for his stellar attempt at playing hardcore hooky. While walking to work one day, Reid had second thoughts and decided he didn’t want to go at all.
Demonstrating an incredible talent for improvisation, he proceeded to beat the sh*t out of himself right there by the side of the road. Pulling a blade from his pocket, Reid began slashing his own face before bashing himself on the head repeatedly with a nearby rock. Just for good measure, he stumbled into a local police station and told the officers on duty that he’d been assaulted.
Reid eventually admitted making the whole thing up and was fined £100 for wasting police time. With the incident ultimately costing him his job, he later said "looking back, I should have just phoned work and asked them for the day off." Hindsight is 20/20 I suppose.
7. Sex Ed: You're Doing It Wrong
Ah yes—the old "sex talk." It can be fairly awkward discussing procreation with a classroom full of kids, but not nearly as awkward as accidentally demonstrating it to them. Unfortunately for Sacramento 5th grade teacher Crystal Defanti, she took the latter approach.
While copying a DVD of school memories to distribute among her students one evening, Defanti unwittingly included a homemade sex tape among the gathered footage (an easy mistake to make). The error went completely unnoticed until after the DVDs made it home when some very confused 11-year-olds pointed it out to their horrified parents.
"We were up till midnight doing the birds and the bees," said one dad of his attempt to explain the X-rated scene to a bewildered son. The General consensus was that it was a genuine—if catastrophically embarrassing—mistake by an otherwise exemplary teacher, so it was unlikely that Defanti would lose her job. One thing’s for sure though—those kids are never going to forget fifth grade.
8. You Had One Job
For most people, looking after children is relatively straightforward—just make sure they don’t vanish into thin air, run out in front of traffic or devour a whole tub of craft glue, right? However, a daycare worker in Dallas proved the exception to the rule when she shut her center and went home for the day, leaving a 14-month-old infant alone in the building.
The kid’s mom, Ashley Hunter, arrived at the scene to find the place completely locked down with her daughter inside. Unable to get in, she called police and rescue workers, who had to break the door down to retrieve the child (she was fine, in case you were worried).
When asked to explain her actions, the daycare worker responsible stated that she didn’t realise the child was there when she left the building that evening. The incident was dismissed as a simple misunderstanding, although which part of "keep an eye on them kids" is unclear, I’m not sure.
9. I Don't Remember Asking For That
If you’re a fan of Taco Bell, you might want to skip over this story and move onto the next one. Back in 2012, Cameron Jankowski—an employee at a Fort Wayne outlet of the popular fast-food chain—sparked outrage when he posted a picture on social media that showed him messing up an order in a rather unique way.
Demonstrating blatant disregard for food safety regulations, Jankowski snapped himself urinating all over a plate of Nachos BellGrande in the back of the kitchen one day. Reveling in his own deviousness, he then posted the picture on Twitter along with some cocky remarks (pun intended) about not being caught.
The story was picked up by a group of hackers, who decided to test Jankowski’s resolve by locating him and identifying him as the culprit. Once outed, Taco Bell dispensed swift justice by terminating his employment. In defense of his actions, Jankowski claimed the plate was going to be thrown out anyway. But the damage was done, and he’d pissed away what could’ve been a promising career.
10. Mile-High Meltdown
There’s a certain edginess to flying these days. Just the slightest indication of an impending crash or hijacking can trigger profound shockwaves in the mind of even the most devil-may-care passenger. So you can imagine the outright horror when Capt. Clayton Frederick Osbon completely lost the plot on a routine JetBlue flight from New York to Las Vegas in 2012.
The pilot first startled his crew by rambling about religion and 9/11, before ramping up the crazy with a wild rant about Jesus and al-Qaeda in full view of the passengers. In what must have been an intense "nope" moment, a number of brave souls tackled him to the ground and secured him with zip ties while the co-pilot made an emergency detour to Amarillo, Texas.
At the inevitable court case, Osbon avoided a lengthy prison sentence when it was shown that he had suffered a brief psychotic episode brought on by lack of sleep. His friends testified that the incident was totally out-of-character; that Osbon (now barred from ever boarding or flying a plane again) was normally a very grounded person!
Who’s the worst employee you’ve ever encountered in the workplace? We want to hear about them in the comments: