David Steward worked for Catfish Bend Casinos inBurlington, Iowa for seven years, most recently as a security supervisor, according to the Des Moines Register. Last October, after company officials announced that the casino would be closing and 170 workers could be laid off, Steward posted a “Dilbert” comic strip on an office bulletin board.
In the strip, Dilbert is talking things over with a waste disposal professional (you may refer to them as “garbage men”), resulting in the following exchange:
“Why does it seem as if most of the decisions in my workplace are made by drunken lemurs?”
“Decisions are made by people who have time, not people who have talent.”
“Why are talented people so busy?”
“They’re fixing the problems made by people who have time.”
Now, we can perhaps all agree that, at least from time to time, we’ve had reason to appreciate that sentiment. Yet, in this particular case, it was apparently the reference to “drunken lemurs” that drew the attention of casino management. S hortly after the comic was posted to the bulletin board, managers at the casino reviewed surveillance tapes, determined Steward was responsible for the act, and fired him three days later.
Steward’s boss told him at the time that he wasn’t a team player, according to the Register. The casino then challenged Steward’s claim for unemployment benefits
At a recent state hearing dealing with Steward’s unemployment benefits claim, the casino’s human resources director, Steve Morley, testified that “upper management” at the casino found the cartoon to be “very offensive” and fired Steward as a result. “Basically, he was accusing the decision-makers of being drunken lemurs,” Morley testified. “We consider that misconduct when you insult your employer.”
Steward testified that he posted the comic partly because of the impending layoffs – and in an effort to “cheer some people up.” Administrative Law Judge Lynette Donner sided with Steward, ruling that the posting of the comic strip represented “a good-faith error in judgment,” not intentional misbehavior.
The Dilbert comic strips are famous for their lampooning of the cubicle culture and byzantine business bureaucracy. Strip creator Scott Adams (no relation) told the Register that Steward’s dismissal might be the first confirmed instance of a worker being fired for posting a “Dilbert” strip in the workplace.
You can see the cartoon at http://wrathchild.files.wordpress.com/2007/10/dilbert20071026.gif .