Try these pranks on April Fools Day and the joke's on you
We don’t want to spoil the fun for those planning some good hearted amusements on April 1. But office pranksters beware: careless April Fools workplace pranks can play a cruel joke on you - and your career. Here's 10 pranks that got their perpetrators fired, plus for good measure a few company sanctioned pranks that led to lawsuits instead of laughter. Our "don't try this at work" heads-up... each of these stories - and their misfortunate results - is a 100% true account of an office prank gone wrong. Practice any poorly planned practical jokes at your own peril!
Top 10 Pranks That Led to Pink Slips:
Fake Store Robbery
Clothing store employee Sitra Walker played an April Fool’s joke on her boss – but her dreams of foolery fame weren’t to be. Walker phoned her new boss from the store to report a robbery in progress – a barefaced April Fools lie to prank her boss. But what she'd hoped would be a boss-employee bonding opportunity turned out to be an instant criminal charge for inducing panic. Walker didn’t think that police would be dispatched so quickly – and the mistake got her fired.
Porn Conference Call
On his first day of vacation, an ultra dedicated employee tuned into a global company conference call and chat session while at home. With everyone listening by phone and chatting via instant message, the voice reception went downhill. Still instant messaging among the group, the employee decided to spice up the meeting by IMing all involved with a new toll free number, and promising that dialing the number would reconnect them to the call. What’s the big deal? The prank number was for a porno hot line. That was our subject’s first day of vacation that year – and last day of employment.
Stun Guns Make Poor Joy Buzzers
A Tennessee police deputy went for "stunning" results with his prank of choice. In January 2008 Deputy Chris Peters thought he’d play pranks on unsuspecting colleagues and civilians by zapping them without warning with a stun gun. The prank didn’t have the intended pat-on-the-back result, and put a few innocent shockees in the hospital. Peters was stripped of his stun gun privileges – plus his job.
Prank Personal Personnel Ads
Angry at a fellow colleague, our subject decided to create a fake online personal ad with said cube colleagues' name. Evidently, men began responding excitingly and the prankster gladly handed out the prankees' phone number. The ladies of the office became creeped out over the high call rate and notified police. This false personal ad was immediately linked to our subject who was then slapped with identity theft, community service and two years probation. That's what you get for choosing an unoriginal prank.
Staffers Not Always Smart Stand Up Comedians
An Apple employee was dismissed after his comedy show at the company open mike night left the audience – and managers, speechless. Jokes included jabs at customers, ranting complaints and a general discontentment for his customer service job. Applause and encores wouldn’t have been enough to save this guy's job, and he got canned soon after. Lesson to raging workers on open mike night: those looking to get fired go to the head of the line.
Shock Jocks "Kill" Mayor
The media loves April Fools Day, and maximizing the airwaves on April 1st for public (and personal) pranking pleasure is common. For Boston radio DJs Opie and Anthony back in 1998, however, the tom foolery ended in short lived career suicide. Claiming that the local mayor had been killed in a car crash, the prank went too far when efforts to prove them wrong were foiled. With the very live and well mayor on a flight (and unreachable by phone), the deathly rumor spread fast. The hoax got the two shock jocks fired – but the pumped up publicity soon landed the pair a nationally syndicated show.
Shotgun Toting Staffer Attends Company Christmas Party
A district manager hired two of his colleagues to arrive at the company holiday party to "burgle" it. Unfortunately for the manager, his staffers not only showed up drunk – but also packed a shotgun for the occasion. Collecting money, wallets and jewelry from the party guests, one of the 'robbers' even pointed his gun at the manager's boss, yelling "Don’t be a f***in' hero!". The boss, frightened by his hires' less-than-funny acting job, relieved himself on the spot… and when his subordinate confessed, promptly fired him. Note to others… scaring your boss so much that they pee their pants at a party is not a good career move.
Teachers Spike Students' Drink
A recent case of men being boys ended in job loss for three high school teachers. Popular coaches of the boys wrestling team, the three stooges decided to slip a little somethin' somethin' into the drink of a student. While the spiking agent is unknown, it was dangerous enough to put these three coaches on the chopping block. The student wasn't injured by the incident, and in fact, he didn’t even ingest whatever it was in that cup-o-mystery. It was a risky substance, according to officials, and what started as a prank between the guys ended in a career pile driver for the coaches.
Secret Admirer Email Triggers Past Tragedy
An anonymous email arrives in a young woman's corporate mailbox. From a "secret admirer", the message ends with the cryptic statement "I've been watching you". Frightened, the woman reports it to the HR department, who in turn asks for a forensic computer analysis. The digital detectives discover that the email was sent by a female colleague on the same work team as the recipient, and was by all accounts an innocent practical joke. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to the prankster the recipient’s sister had been tragically stalked and murdered by "an admirer". To recover from the emotional stress the recipient required several weeks of counseling, and the prankster took a temporary leave of absence… that soon turned into a permanent one.
Pilot Buzzes Boeing HQ
It might be more of a stunt than a prank – but our subject's idea of a joke in this case was a big hit on YouTube. Ian Wilkinson, a senior Cathay Pacific pilot, flew his last bird on Jan 30, 2007 - the day he decided to entertain a group of VIPs onboard his plane by flying just 28 feet above ground at 322 mph over Boeing’s headquarters in Seattle. Though feted by company officials after his ground skimming flight, Wilkinson’s career quickly began crashing down after the stunt video showed up online.
Top 3 Company Sanctioned Pranks that led to lawsuits rather than laughter:
Hooter's "Win a Toyota" Contest
A manager at a Hooter’s Restaurant in Florida decided to celebrate April Fools Day 2001 by offering a "free Toyota" to the person who sold the most beer. After one waitress "won" the contest, her manager blindfolded her and took her out to the parking lot, where she was awarded with her hard earned prize… a genuine "toy Yoda" – that is, a plastic Yoda doll from the movie Star Wars. The waitress was less than pleased… so she sued and won. While the actual amount of the settlement hasn't been revealed, according to her lawyer it's reportedly more than enough to walk into any car dealership and "pick out whatever type of Toyota she wants".
Free Dog Food Dinner Costs Los Angeles $1.4 million
Firefighter Tennie Pierce, a veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department, was served a tasteless spaghetti meal by his work "buddies". The low deliciousness of the Oct 2004 meal was probably due to the can of dog food that made up the "meat" sauce. The firefighter sued for "racial harassment, emotional distress, retaliation and failure to investigate", resigned from the department, and in 2007 was awarded $1.4 M in compensation.
Fake Arrests As Employee Initiation
Southwest Airlines' Albuquerque hub had a long standing tradition for initiating new employees who successfully complete their employment probation. New workers were given a good natured mock arrest by airport police who were in on the joke. But when Marcie Fuerschbach, a new customer service agent was "arrested" and taken away in handcuffs in front of passengers and her colleagues, the practical joke created serious emotional distress. She was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, sued the company and the police… and won.
>> For more April Fools fun, check out our collection of prank office signs.
Dani Crosby/Happy Worker