Feb 16th, 2008 by Nick
Santa Claus had some HR trouble after this season’s Christmas party. The incident made it into the New Zealand press. Below is his write-up, and a short interview. (The interview took place on January 9, 2008 at the Coffeehouse. Santa asked me to wait until the end of Mainbody to post it.)
December 29, 2007
Subject: Written warning
Dear [Santa Claus],
On December 23, 2007 you engaged in inappropriate behavior at the annual Christmas Party held in the Vehicle Maintenance Facility. Specifically, in your role as Santa Claus posing with fellow employees for photographs, you engaged in inappropriate touching of female employees. These actions were in violation of RPSC Standard Operating Procedures HR-DLMNPS-022 (Employee Conduct) and HR-A-002 (Harassment and Discrimination). It is important for you [to] understand that these types of unwelcome actions are inappropriate and offensive to the community and caution you to refrain from these types of behavior in the future.
Due to these violation[s] of company policy and procedure, this written warning will be made a part of your Personnel File. I must warn you that any further violations of Company Policy may result in more severe disciplinary action. I am also requiring that you read and sign that you have reviewed HR-A-002.
[RPSC Site Manager]
Santa: First of all, yeah, I was being a Santa and, yeah, gals were sitting on my lap and, yeah, when there’s breasts on my left cheek and right cheek…
Big Dead Place: You’re going to get all worked up…
Now, I’m not gonna put it like that, but I’m certainly going to be festive and play the role. And I also know it’s a total different environment here. It’s not going to be a place where kids are sitting on my lap or anything like that, it’s totally different.
You’re not a mall santa. You’re a Heavy Shop adult Santa.
That’s right. So sure, everyone was just having a great old time, and I was starting to enjoy it actually. To really get down to it, this whole place is just full of people who love to frickin’ party. All day, all night, if they had their choice, it could go on and on and on.
Santa’s job is to have people sit on his lap and take pictures.
I personally thought it was reasonably innocent enough…
What was the turning point?
There was the time this woman comes up and hands me this dollar bill, and I’m like, what am I supposed to do with this? And she’s holding her jeans out, like you’d do in a strip club. So I did it just to satisfy her, and I’m kind of thinking, “Oh man, people are taking pictures, but okay. It’s all in fun.” And that’s all I thought about it.
When did this become a problem? Was HR there that night?
Well, what happened…then I had another gal kind of roll all over me, several of them did that. Then there’s just the ones doing the sitting on the knee thing, innocent enough. There was this one gal who was jumping all over me, and [she was] sitting on the skidoo, pulling her skirt up, showing her legs.
What’s the problem?
I honestly don’t know. Do you know who the head of HR is? I honestly don’t know if she sat on my lap or not. So she walks up and she’s standing eight feet in front of me and she’s clearly an unhappy camper. I don’t know exactly how she worded it, but she certainly announced that she was from HR. So my attitude changed immediately. Not so much that I was afraid of her, but I don’t want to be a trouble causer. That’s not my style. So if I am, I want to back off and not be that way. She said, “Well, I’m offended.” And I said, “Can we talk about this?” and she said, “Yes, we can.” Well, there was no talk. I went to the HR office and they were ready for me.
So this is how many days later?
A week later. And I asked them, “Why did you wait so long?” and they said, “We had to make sure and get our facts straight.”
So they were talking to other people…
Here’s the thing: Most of us work for Raytheon. And Raytheon asked you to be Santa Claus. And then Raytheon gets you in trouble for being Santa Claus.
You can say it that way.
I would never expect from a group of human adults, having a big party, in a garage, with alcohol, in the dark, that it would be anything other than dirty. I would never expect anything less than that.
Go ahead and write it up that way.
I would never sit on Santa Claus’s lap in that situation.
An interesting thing, it was the next work day and I’m walking down Highway One and one of the gals comes out of Recreation and was talking about what an awesome Santa I was. And it was Recreation that put me up there. I clearly believe it’s just a matter of who happened to be sitting in the seat at the time. I’m truly sorry that I did offend her…
You actually feel guilty?
Not really. I don’t feel guilty. It was just a point of view, from her point of view. It just so happened she was HR.
And that’s how the power works, right?
I’ll give that a certain amount of respect…
When you got called into HR, what happened?
By the middle of the week, I figured I’d dodged the bullet. If they were going to call me, they would have called me. Because she clearly was upset when she walked up to me that evening. So I get this phone call, and she’s as sweet sounding as she can be, and certainly not in the temperament she was in when she walked up to me at the party. So I went on down there. And it was her and [the station manager] sitting there, with the paperwork all ready. There really wasn’t much talking. I basically acknowledged what was going on here. I told them that if I had to do it over again, I’d do it differently. I looked over at [the station manager] and said, “This is all, right?” and he said, “This is all.” It almost seemed to me like he was ready to be through with it too. Let’s just get it over with.
No more repercussions.
That’s exactly how it felt. I took it as reasonable. I wasn’t going to sit there and argue with it.
You didn’t get any action out of being Santa Claus, did you?