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Stupid warehouse tricks: Unsafe horseplay caught on video


An employee engaged in unsafe horseplay at work. He got warnings, including a final one, but was caught once again on videotape. He was fired, and the case eventually went to court.

Thomas Ayres worked at Wal-Mart. The company has a policy prohibiting “practices that may be inconsistent with ordinary and reasonable common sense safety rules,” such as “horseplay.”

Ayres engaged in an activity he called “surfing” — riding on pieces of cardboard on gravity roller conveyors.

A manager warned Ayres this was against policy. Ayres acknowledged this type of conduct was an “unsafe procedure.”

He was issued warnings several times for rules violations, and eventually received a final warning. A worker at Wal-Mart who violates any policy after a final warning is automatically terminated.

Sometime after receiving that warning, Ayres reported that he had dropped a wooden pallet and injured his toe.

While investigating, Wal-Mart managers viewed a videotape of Ayres’ work area on the day he was injured. On the video, Ayres and several of his co-workers can be seen trying to jump over two stacks of wooden pallets.

Ayres started running toward the pallets from about 20 feet away and then tried to jump over them. He attempted this three or four times and then did a cartwheel off the side of the stack of pallets. This happened about an hour after Ayres injured his foot.

Wal-Mart fired Ayres for engaging in horseplay.

The state determined he was ineligible for unemployment benefits because he was fired for misconduct.

Ayres appealed, with the case eventually going to a state court. He argued that his actions didn’t amount to employment misconduct.

The court rejected Ayres’ argument. It ruled the horseplay he engaged in did amount to employment misconduct — unemployment benefits denied.

Ayres v. Wal-Mart Associates Inc., Court of Appeals of Minnesota, No. A09-2125, 8/3/10.

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  1. Wow, my faith in the world has been restored! Even with the video some judges would probably have awarded benefits. Good to see this one got it right!

  2. Great call, I was beginning to get nervous the farther I read.
    Thank you, judge!

    Doc Williams

  3. I’m sure that there will be a challenge to the right of the company to “spy” on workers; WalMart will have to prove that the video was not enhanced ins some way; and some slug attorney will waste thousands of our tax dollars to over rule the judge’s decision.

  4. Marvin Bollinger says:

    I don’t see where companies can make money any more! You have to have a full time employee just going to these phone and court hearings! Because IDIOTS like this think they are intitled to something that they know their NOT! I feel if the state weighs the reason and comes to a conclusion that should be the decision! If they want to appeal there should be a fee if it gets rejected again!! They may think twice whether it’s the employee or employer!

  5. I am amazed that Ayres thought he had a case – it kind of shows how stupid he really is/was.

  6. This couldn’t have been in New York State….he would have been awarded benefits…..heck, even drug dealers get WC…..any wonder that NY is broken.

  7. Eric Clark says:

    I agree 100%, it was probably tolerated too long as it was. Horseplay cost employers and that cost is passed to the employees in lack of pay raises and benefit cuts, and the end customer picks up some of the cost also.

  8. Jason, I agree with your comments. Wal-Mart did the right thing by fighting this claim. What a idiot

  9. Thankfully the Court and Walmart got it right. Sometimes things do work out as they should an example is a few years ago below happened.

    We are in NYC and overturned a Comp Case. I reported a worker I supervised who was out on extended comp for severe back and neck injuries sustained on the job.

    The worker came in on payday in a neck and back brace with a cane. Also someone had to help this person down the supply stairs (the elevator in that building was out of order) this is a shallow easily managed stair well with guide rails etc.

    The worker came in about 4:30 pm and had to be helped back up the stairs.

    Our grounds are separated from the city street by a 16 foot fence.

    About 4:40 pm I observed the worker sans neck and back brace as well as the cane running down the sidewalk outside the fence.

    The running was in order to catch the check cashing place located about 3/4 a mile from the main entrance. The check cashing place closes promptly at 5:00pm.

    I reported my observation to Human Resources. From that report the worker was denied any further benefits forced to return to work at full duty.

    Then worker was examined by a WC Dr. (at our request) and had to pay back all the benefits that they had collected these included SL, Vacation time, prescribed medications and the travel allowance issued to the worker to assist in their recovery .

    The worker appealed the above and lost. From my report and the appeal there was an investigation.

    There were managers as well as workers that had seen the worker running to the check cashing place at the same time I did. Most of the interviewed gave very clear statements.

    The managers and most of the workers interviewed approved of the above. That in itself was a surprise to many as we are located in an “Inner city” actually a borough of NYC.

    Many of our workers were upset that this person and others were collecting WC when they were not entitled to it.

  10. That rascal new what he was doing. Surely he has no morals and lacks good behavior. Walmart gave him too many chance for him to correct himself. I believe his intent was criminal because when someone knowingly do wrong and try to manipulate the system to favor him for moneyary reward that makes him a CROOK. Send his tail off to jail.

  11. PO'd Safety Guy says:

    Dude….surfin’………… hurt………fired?…….unemployment…….no unemployment?………duh?……..not cool………..I’m dumb……….cool.

  12. Don’t send him to jail. That is just free room and board at our expense. Put him on a work crew cleaning up along side the road without pay.

  13. I agree with Joe — no reason for the taxpayers to support this guy. Glad the courts got one right.

  14. Rational Won says:

    Sometimes I am just ashamed of humanity. I laugh at the monstrosity that is this workers testicles, but it truly is not funny. He really believed he deserved unemployment after all of this? What if the company didnt have cameras? I hate the idea that cameras are in the workplace. But without them, in some cases, a company might have to shut down pending severity of lawsuit (compensation) and honest, hardworking employees might lose their job. Frivolous indeed.


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