HR Strange But True

Pokémon Go-ing to Get You Fired!

It was only a matter of time before someone would get fired over Pokémon Go, the new mobile game that’s sweeping the world. Call me a sadist, but I’ve been eagerly awaiting stories to roll in for the sole purpose of reporting them in HRSBT. While this one particular employee wasn’t fired over the game itself, he did land in some pretty hot water over social media posts regarding the “availability” of the game in Singapore.

According to Mashable.com, an Australian working in Singapore—as the vice president of digital marketing for 99.co—is on blast over some comments he made on Facebook. The man’s social media posts can be found here, but the choice words are better left unrepeated. The general gist is the man called Singapore names because the country didn’t have the Pokémon Go app available yet, while it was already available in the United States and Australia.

Upset over the man’s comments—and in true social media fashion—Facebook users started a witch hunt and discovered where the man was employed. Facebook users then proceeded to bash the company; leaving messages regarding its employment practices and threatening boycotts of the company. 99.co’s CEO, Darius Cheung, responded to the complaints on the company’s blog, saying:

“an SEO specialist, started consulting with us last monday, he has been a consultant with us for about a week when this incident happened … We are a proud Singaporean company and we do not condone such language or behaviour, we have terminated his engagement with us immediately, as soon as the incident came to our attention”

The man reached out to Mashable with a statement: “It was a d*ck move on my behalf and a very big error in judgement to negatively label an entire country over Pokémon. It was very wrong of me to rage like that.” He continued by saying, “However in my defense, I was racially vilified for not being a ‘white’ Australian. It was disappointing the lengths Singaporeans went at to attack me and deny any chance of making amends for my actions.” Mashable asked the man if he had any intentions of getting his job back, but the man replied that he had parted ways with 99.co and would appreciate it if everyone could stop their witch hunt and leave the company alone, adding “bombarding them with threats isn’t helping.”

Pokémon Go doesn’t seem like it’s going away anytime soon, so employers best beware and review policies related to attendance and smartphone usage. Philippe Weiss, a Chicago-based lawyer and managing director of Seyfarth Shaw at Work, offers this tip to employers: “use the power of your policies—remind everyone at work about your electronic device policy and ask that smart phones be turned off at all meetings. Don’t cede your power to the Pokémon.” In this instance, a review of your social media policies may be of importance as well!