Unexpected Reasons For Getting Fired

What are some unexpected reasons why people get fired? originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question.

Answer by Heather Spruill, HR Manager, on Quora.

When someone loses their job, it's natural for people to be interested in how it happened; the first question is "why?", but the second question is typically the internal one - "am I doing anything remotely like that? Should I be worried?"

Truly unexpected terminations aren't common in my experience. Good employees are hard to find, and employers find themselves in a lose/lose situation when they ambush employees with a pink slip. I find that there are two categories of "unexpected" termination: Those that arise out of poor communication and those that arise out of human folly. The former are more common, but the latter are more interesting to hear about.

Some real life reasons people I know have lost jobs without warning:

  • Late because bird flew into bunk house, couldn't shut door without getting bird to leave (which would be late arrival number 20 - it wasn't this one, it was the other 19 before it).
  • Caught peeing in the car wash tunnel.
  • Caught peeing on crates in the warehouse (20' from a restroom).
  • Caught peeing behind a customer vehicle in the lot. 
  • Complained that computer needed more memory; memory full due to porn videos and a naked lady screen saver that updated itself each morning.
  • Threw chair at VP during a meeting, then attempted to flee up back stairs to the second floor. Was restrained by security and shrieked, "you're embarrassing me!  You're embarrassing me!" as they escorted her to the door.
  • Consumed with furious anger over being asked not to take fistfuls of sugar packets home. Was very candid about feelings.
  • Told a customer who needed to return something that she should have known better than to order a small. "That's just vanity, plain and simple. Why should I reward that by paying for your shipping?"
  • Disappeared for 10-30 minutes going to the restroom several times each shift.  Was playing Candy Crush in stall. Couldn't stop himself.
  • Got into an 18 minute argument with a customer over air vs. ground shipping to Hawaii.
  • Called from the phone in the cube next to his to arrange for the sale of some high quality methamphetamine and a remote controlled toy car.
  • Tore the underpants section out of the new catalogs on the desks of several coworkers to make "wallpaper" for his cube. Of the underpants section of the company's catalog. 
  • Pooped in the bathroom, just not where one typically would do it.
  • Snuck her dog into the office (against the rules). Dog freaked out and snapped at male employees. Announced that for safety reasons, only female employees should sit in her row. When asked why, said she was going through The Change, and could not be held responsible for any animal sounds that might come from her cube.

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