28 Ridiculously Illegal Things Employers Have Done To Save Money


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1. Subway

I once worked at a Subway where the store manager tried to water down the oil used as a condiment on the sandwiches. Tried. To. Water. Down. Oil.

2. Movie Theater

I worked at a movie theater where the manager watered down the Sprite right in front of everyone waiting for the movie. I tried to stop him, but he told me it was his plan. This way everyone would know we wouldn’t run out of soda. He’s also the boss who had the exterminator come during our busiest shift so customers would think that we were proactive and didn’t have bugs. Which was true, only everyone thought our bug problem was so bad that we couldn’t wait until after hours to have the exterminator come.

3. Startups?

Instead of hiring an additional employee, I just have to do the work of several people.

4. Bad idea

Fired the entire development staff for the custom in-house software. “We’ve already got the program, what do we need them for?”

5. People thought they were closed…

Our store went six months without a neon open sign while the owners tried to squeeze one out of our distributors for free. Meanwhile people would walk right up to the door, think we’re closed and leave. Just absolutely ridiculous how much money they probably lost trying to get a 50 dollar item for free.

6. Why did they do this

We recently incorporated a Go Green Team. Basically they are pushing recycling and saving energy, all that fun stuff.

So, one Monday morning my supervisor (who loves her tea) went to grab a lil red straw/stirrer for her tea, and saw that they had been replaced with raw spaghetti. In an effort to reduce waste and make a cleaner Earth, they did this.

Now, she is very mindful of Mother Earth, but at the same time, she enjoys those lil red straws and also uses them to sip her tea out of, to avoid stains, naturally. So, she complains to HR or whoever that she liked the red straws, she used them to drink out of and can no longer do so now that everything has been replaced with spaghetti.

The next day she goes to make her tea, and the spaghetti has been replaced with perciatelli, which is like manicotti but only on a smaller scale.

7. Makes no sense

Had a supervisor at a lab tell us that to save money on gloves, we should turn them inside out and use it again. Gloves are used to avoid contaminating the sample and also to protect our hands from getting hazardous chemicals on them, so why not do the opposite of both of those things?

He was Polish. Now I hate to play the stereotype card, but he was like, Aspergers-level obsessed with Poland and everything Polish. He had a lot of ideas like the one above, and never once tested them or asked anyone else if it was a good idea before putting it into practice.

8. That’s not safe

Multimillion dollar company, 75 workstations all running the same pirated XP license, no server backups, and AVG Free for antivirus on everything.

9. High-end restaurant, Costco standards

I worked at a very high end, 5-star restaurant.

The restaurant originally would get fancy cakes from a local cake maker and up sell the shit out of them- which is normal. This day, something happened and we needed a carrot cake ASAP and the shop was closed.
My boss went to Costco and bought their carrot cake, added fancy frosting on top, and sold it for something like $10 a piece (and by piece, I mean a sliver.)

No one complained, so he ended up switching every cake to the Costco brand.

It is what it is, but it’s still shitty. Yes, a lot of the customers are snobby people i don’t care about pulling the ol’ switch-a-roo. But, we get a lot of working class people who take their SO there for special occasions and it means a lot to them.

I never offer dessert at the end, I won’t up sell that shit. Only if they ask. I don’t care if their bill is larger, which means more of a tip. I DO have some standards.

10. This can’t be legal

Worked at a university where the department would get low on funds, so my boss would just come up and tell us that we weren’t getting paid for the month. We could quit and find another job, but when you are knee deep in three years of a research project, you had to weigh the value of getting your publications out versus abandoning everything you have worked on for a new job.

11. Doesn’t make sense

“Oh we have a lot of work piling up??? Unlimited overtime everyone!”

My boss thinks this will save money and get it done faster. NO. Unlimited overtime makes work grind to a halt, and makes everyone work slower so they can cash in on the overtime gravy train coming their way.

I work in Accounting, and seeing people take 3 weeks to respond to an email, or two months to issue a credit, while they work 70+ hours a week on overtime is maddening.

12. And no one complained?

Our boss cut our office supply budget to nearly nothing. All we could afford was printer paper and toner cartridges. Actually started buying office supplies and bringing them to work with me. When we went to conventions, we would load up on freebie pens and notepads. It sure deterred petty theft and waste, but it got ridiculous. We were saving misprinted documents and cutting it up to be scratch pads.

13. No unemployment for you!

He’d badger employees he didn’t like until they quit, so he wouldn’t have to pay into unemployment for them.

14. So dumb

I worked at a pretty well known fast food place when I was a teenager. The person who would cook all the food, aka the grill guy, would have these giant insulated gloves so that he could grab things that were hot from out of the oven. Bacon pans and stuff.

Anyway, the restaurant was using the SAME insulated gloves for every grill person, all day, every day…and they were never cleaned. Eventually, almost all of the grill people started getting rashes on their hands. Everyone was complaining about their hands, but managers told them to suck it out.

One day I got curious and turned the gloves inside out. On the inside of the glove, there was a black mold. I’m not saying it was the black mold, but it was mold that was black.

Managers tried to tell the teenagers that black mold was harmless, and that you could breath it in/eat it. We kept the black mold gloves for a week or two before one of the teenagers parents threatened to sue.
They bought gloves the next day, which of course, eventually became filled with black mold once more.

It’s like a cycle.

15. Runny water

I worked at the local Costcutter (general shop) for a Summer once. There was this tap (faucet in U.S. I think) in the back that was like, locked on. It was stuck in the on position permanently and no one could turn it off. My boss never got anyone to fix it because it would cost money to have someone come out and, because the water was a fixed rate price, it didn’t actually cost him anything to have it running 24/7.

16. Bad service

I used to work for an asphalt company that also did sealing for driveways. The sealer material was like liquid tar basically and in order to make it last longer my boss would have us mix water into the product so the mix was 50/50. So when we went to spray it it was basically just dark water going onto the driveways.. It ended up looking bad and he charged a ton of money.. I hated that guy for ripping people off

17. Pretty sure this is illegal

Work for a solar panel company. Employer refuses to put up scaffolding and threatens to fire employees who won’t do installs regardless of personal safety…While charging the customer for scaffolding. So we are left to either find a new job or risk our lives on 2-3story wet slate roofs (worst one so far)… Needless to say they won’t be around for very long

18. Bar soap

I went to a restaurant once and in the bathroom, they had bar soap. Bar soap.

I know that Chandler says that soap is self-cleaning, but like Joey said, think about the last place you soap yourself and then the first place you soap yourself.

All I could think of staring at that pink bar of soap with the dried suds clinging to it like some cheap prom dress was that someone had wiped using just their hands and then used this bar of soap to cleanse their hands from their butt filth. And here I was going to use it on my precious hands that had just delicately held my penis, guiding its golden streams lovingly into the porcelain receptacle not two feet from where I now stood.

19. Funny, but I hope they ended up okay

Instead of hiring a professional bee removal company, he asked the maintenance guys to remove a hive of bees. Next thing I see is two Mexicans walking down a hallway, one holding a broom, the other a shop vac. Both are wearing diet coke boxes on their heads for protection.

20. Not too smart

About 15 years ago I was working for a national women’s clothing retail chain that is now defunct. They had filed for Chapter 11 and were cutting costs drastically across the board. I worked in Computer Operations, and our department was manned 24 hours a day across 3 shifts.

One day, I came in to somebody setting up a new PC in the NOC. We asked what was going on and they informed us that they were were no longer using the stores alarm company and were changing the store alarms to all report back in to this new computer. Since we had someone there overnight on the swing and graveyard shifts they figured we would be there to respond to any store alarms that went off.

Well, this chain had well over 500 stores at the time, so even 8-10 alarms going off erroneously in a night was A LOT to deal with. And this happened every single night. Store employee doesn’t set the alarm correctly, a clothes rack falls over, or just a faulty alarm, it seemed like anything would set them off. We were instructed to follow up with every alarm that went off.

So just like that our already busy nights of polling stores for sales data, processing the data, running reports etc. became incredibly complicated as we suddenly had store alarms going off every night.

It was a fucking disaster and I left within a month of that being implemented.

21. Quiznos

I worked at Quiznos in high school.

Our boss made us weigh the bread ends that we had to throw away so he could write it off. So for every sandwich we made we had to keep the bread ends in a container until the end of the day. We had an employee ask if she could take them home for feeding birds and he wouldn’t allow that.

22. Totally not legal

Actively defrauding employees. I worked for a major IT service management company on-site at a client in the financial services sector. Several roles open up at the client which they want our employer to fill and I, and a few other people, are offered promotions and pay-rises effective from the dates we start in the roles to perform these roles which is something we obviously agree to.

So after a while in these new roles we’ve heard nothing from our HR confirming the promotions and certainly haven’t seen hide nor hair of the pay rises. So we question our manager about this. He informs us that HR have had some problems with the paperwork but he’s dealing with it. This goes on for some time until one day our manager takes us into a room and, feigning distress, tells us that HR have turned down the promotions and pay-rises even though we’ve been doing these more senior roles for some time now and were supposed to be getting paid more money for doing so.

Needless to say, we were spectacularly pissed off and did discuss amongst ourselves various options such as performing a work to rule where we would only perform the roles we were being paid for or going full nuclear and walking off the site until our employer actually paid us for the roles we were performing. However, we in the end decided to escalate up the management chain.

So one of the senior managers for our employer comes to visit the site and he proceeds to give us a completely different explanation claiming that there is no agreement in place with the client for them to fund us in these more senior roles so the company couldn’t pay us more money. My rather bluntly stated view was that I didn’t give a shit what funding arrangements they had in place with the client – that was their problem not mine and I, and the others, had agreed to perform these new roles on the understanding we’d be getting a pay-rise.

However, I also knew that what this manager was telling us was utter fucking horseshit. A senior manager at the client had told me what the funding arrangement was (and shown me the relevant emails, documentation and contracts) between the client and my employer and that the client had been paying additional sums to our employer for us to perform these new roles from the day we’d started in them.

We eventually did get the promotions and pay-rises but they were never backdated to when we’d started in the roles so for six months our employer got work out of us that they conveniently weren’t properly paying us for.

And the real kicker? I eventually found out that the manager who’d been telling us that HR had been having issues with the paperwork had never actually submitted to HR any of the paperwork to get us our promotions and pay-rises and had instead been lying through his teeth to us.

Bastards deliberately defrauded us in order to bump up their profitability on the account.

23. Wow that’s disgusting

There was a veterinarian who reused syringes. Apparently she had her staff rinse syringes used for vaccines, and then autoclave them back to “sterile.”

I was in for a job interview when I learned about this, and I noped the fuck out of there. Also reported the business to the AVMA, because that’s insane.

Yes, hazmat disposal of syringes is expensive.

No, you don’t get to reuse syringes and needles.

24. Sporting goods store

I worked at a mid-size sporting goods store in New England and I can’t even begin to tell you the items they would try to resell after they were returned or damaged in the store. Shoes that had clearly been worn for months, single shoelaces wrapped in scotch tape, shirts with giant stains all over the front, you name it. The worst part was it was a corporate mandate and not a manager trying to squeeze more money out of his particular store. To me, you’re just ruining your store’s image at that point. Who would ever buy a shoe with a huge hole in the instep for an extra 10% off?

25. But you guys still let her do it

My old boss would steal tape, pens, pencils, etc. from other departments so she wouldn’t have to use any of our budget on them. We were always thousands of dollars above budget on supplies, and I feel like all of her shadiness saved her maybe 100-200 dollars a year but just made everyone else at the company hate her or think she was crazy.

26. Jesus.

I worked at a seafood restaurant. The owner forced us busboys to recycle the unused dinner rolls. There was a bag that was near where we would clear the dishes to put the rolls in. You were judged by how many you saved. I was 16 and just wanted a job (although my bag was always much less full than the others). I really wish that I had told them to fuck themselves on that one. It was nasty.

27. Bad management all around

About five years ago I worked for a GAME concession in a very well known national department store. The building itself was falling apart, you would go out the back and there would be buckets everywhere catching water that was coming through the ceiling, it was like working in Rapture.

One of the other concessions had a leak and the carpet was permanently wet, it smelt terrible – this was on the sales floor, but the management didn’t care because it wasn’t one of “their departments.” My department had a leak through the lighting, and eventually it started smoking. They also didn’t change my security code on my stockroom despite repeated requests – practically everybody knew the code and we were losing tons of stock, including Xbox 360s.

The most ridiculous point came when they refused to turn our lights on until 10am during Christmas trading to “save electricity.” I had customers waking around in the dark, it was total bullshit, especially considering GAME were paying rent to the department store.

No surprises when GAME ended their concessions deals, really.

28. The end of an era

I worked for a Video store that had been purchased by a couple that ran a doughnut store. The previous owners saw the future in video stores and were selling their small chain (about 4) of stores piecemeal. In an effort to save the failing business they just purchased they brought in the leftover day old doughnuts and tried to get us to sell them with our video rentals.

They also had our back office converted into a porno section. We started to get weirdos who would come in just before closing and stay in the porno room 40 mins after closing time. The girls that worked there starting getting upset. They all got laid off. In the end it was only me working the mornings and opening the store. The owners would come in and close the store. They had a really poor grasp of English, and of American movies in general so they really didn’t understand what would be popular and what was trash. I really felt sorry for them before I quit because they finally realized that the old owners had made a pretty penny selling them a store that was impossible to make money with. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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