Employees’ hostile pranks spell setback for Fort Lauderdale

Dogged for over a decade by lawsuits alleging racial and sexual discrimination, the city of Fort Lauderdale has been working to change that atmosphere. But two recent instances of hostile employee pranks marked a major setback for the city’s effort.

In the police department, which has been actively recruiting gays and lesbians, an employee allegedly posted a cartoon depicting a male city official embracing a scowling male officer, captioned, “I’m sorry—wrong officer,” with a name written below. An employee with a similar name complained that the joke was aimed at him and part of a hazing campaign. Internal affairs investigated and recommended training for the officer who created the flier.

The fire department faced a similar problem when a newspaper clipping surfaced featuring a monkey in a shirt and tie with the name of the former black fire chief inscribed beneath. Officials are investigating the incident.

What’s the price of such “harmless” employee pranks? The city of Los Angeles just paid $2.7 million to settle a discrimination lawsuit from a black firefighter who was served spaghetti laced with dog food.

Tip: Try posting some of those headlines around the water cooler to remind employees that some jokes just aren’t funny.