No talking, no peeing, no eating: Your dumbest workplace rules

Aug. 7, 2012 at 7:55 AM ET

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Readers seemed painfully familiar with stupid management edicts.

 We’re all for a quiet work environment, but no talking at all? That seems a bit extreme.

A post last week on the perils of strange, strict and stupid workplace rules prompted hundreds of readers to share Dilbert-esque tales from the nation’s cubicle farms and factory floors.

Among the most groan-worthy: The employers who forbid or restrict normal social contact.

We heard from one reader who wasn’t allowed to befriend any co-workers and another who was told not to kiss a spouse or loved one in the company parking lot. Another reader had to contend with a “no whispering” policy.

But our favorite: The company that required approval for speaking at all. 

“Worked for a company that forbid speaking to other employees without management approval, even if the conversation was work-related. Management determined that talking to others was stealing company time since they had already told you everything you needed to know,” the reader wrote on our Facebook page.

Many readers told us about bosses who make them get permission to use the bathroom, or even leave their desks. We have to say that we were unable to verify every story, but certainly we were interested in the story one reader relayed of what happened when a supervisor refused a bathroom request:

“I worked for a major retailer that told all employees to ask their supervisor if they could go to the bathroom. One day an employee asked twice to go and was refused. The 3rd time, he told his supervisor that if he did not give his permission, that he would drop his pant and defecate right there. The (supervisor) laughed and said no. So, right there in the middle of the plant, the employee did just what he said he'd do.”

Another popular category: Stupid rules that also cannot possibly be followed.

One reader writes: “We're required to eat our meals in the required break room in our building. But we have no break room and nowhere to put one, so we eat at our desks. We spend more time looking for an available bathroom than actually using it --- there are very few in the building and a lot of people working here. HR throws fits about it all, but they can't provide us with more space nor can they provide more bathrooms!”

Over on our Facebook page, another reader worked for a company where employees were told to give three days’ notice if they planned to take a sick day.

Many readers said they were frustrated by employers who were asking them to work harder than ever and follow ever-stricter rules about things like hours of work and dress codes.

“In an era of little to no pay raises, I would think companies would try to make their employees happy by allowing some flexibility, instead of limiting raises, increasing health care costs AND making stupid new rules. Companies today don't have a clue!” one reader wrote.


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