How to get yourself fired while on holiday

portrait of young man arguing...

It's a well-known fact that the New Year is the most popular time to decide to look for another job. For many, though, it's the summer break that's the trigger.

When you're sitting on the beach, that day-to-day drudgery seems a sight less appealing, and a cocktail or two can give you the confidence to believe that anything is possible.

It's hardly surprising, then, that people often hand in their notice after a holiday. What's less usual, though, is to have the decision taken out of your hands, and find you've been sacked for misconduct while you've been away.

But it is possible to do something on holiday that gets you fired when you get back; we look at a few unfortunate examples.
Smuggle arms

The reason Paul Armstrong went to Cyprus in the first place was to celebrate a promotion at work. But he never got to take up the position as IT manager after he was stopped at the airport on the way home.

Inside his luggage were a stun gun, knuckle dusters and an extendable baton - 'souvenirs', he said.

In April, a judge at Newcastle Crown Court sentenced Armstrong to eight months in jail suspended for two years. His employers were informed, and he was fired.

Have breasts

Laraine Cook, an Idaho high school women's basketball coach, was fired over a holiday photo of herself with her boyfriend, Tom Harrison, a football coach at the same school.

The picture, posted on Facebook, showed the couple on the beach in swimming costumes, smiling and with their arms around one another - and with Harrison's hand resting on Cook's breast.

Interestingly, the school board seemed a lot more concerned about the offence of possessing breasts than about the rights and wrongs of grabbing them: Cook was fired, and Harrison wasn't.

Forget to pay your colleagues

Many people feel Jason Parrish was unfairly penalised for the fact that around 1,400 Luzerne County staff were paid late.

Last December, Parrish went off on holiday without specifically pointing out to his managers that it was his job to sign off the $3 million electronic transfer for the monthly payroll. They didn't think to ask anyone else to do it in his place; but it was Parrish who lost his job.

Pose with a gun

John Brown, a project worker at a west Dublin community drugs team, was sacked after he uploaded a holiday photo to Facebook. Taken in Thailand, it showed him with a fake gun and ammunition; and when his bosses saw the picture they fired him for misconduct.

Brown, though, appealed against the decision, claiming it was no different to dressing up for Halloween; he won, and was awarded €3,230 in compensation.

Drink (and be American)

High school teacher Ashley Payne, 24, was travelling round Europe on holiday when she posted a photo on Facebook of herself with a glass of wine in one hand and a pint of beer in the other.

It's a pretty innocuous photo - she's fully dressed, upright, and doesn't even look terribly tipsy. But the pic was spotted by a parent at Apalachee High School, in Winder, Georgia, and she was called up by the head. She was given the option of resigning or being fired.

Send a racist tweet

You'd think that being the PR chief of a large corporation would mean you'd think just a little before you tweet. But Justine Sacco. communications director InterActive Corp, had an astonishing parting thought for her Twitter followers as she boarded a plane travelling from London to Cape Town.

"Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!" she wrote.

By the time her flight arrived 11 hours later, her tweet had gone viral with the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet; she was fired the next day.

Stay away a bit too long

We've all had the feeling: that holiday just hasn't been long enough, and we really don't feel like going back to work. When this happened to Indian bureaucrat AK Verma in 1990, he requested an extension to his leave. It was denied, but he stayed away anyway - for another 24 years.

It's not easy to fire a civil servant in India: basically, you have to do something seriously wrong at work, and Mr Varma was never actually at work. In the end, a bright spark pointed out that he was committing theft by stealing from the taxpayer, and Mr Varma finally lost his job.

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