NEW YORK (MainStreet) – You know those tabloid features that proclaim, “Celebrities: They’re just like us!” based solely on the fact that some A-lister was spotted shopping for toilet paper?
Well, it’s not true. Celebrities can pull stunts at work that would get the Average Joe fired in a heartbeat. Here are a few.
Being drunk on the job. Pat Sajak, long-running host of Wheel of Fortune, recently admitted in an interview with ESPN that in the early days of the game show, he and co-host Vanna White would have “two or three or six” margaritas between tapings, then come back “and have trouble recognizing the alphabet.” While he has since walked back those claims a bit, he’s hardly the only big name in the entertainment industry to drink on the job: Various actors have admitted being drunk on-screen, including Martin Sheen in one iconic scene from Apocalypse Now (though you could probably chalk that one up to method acting). You may feel that you’re destined to be a Hollywood star, but try this stunt at the office and you’ll be lucky to get off with a warning from HR.
Skipping work events. Tim Thomas, the MVP for the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, made headlines earlier this week when he declined to accompany the team for a ceremonial visit to the White House due to political objections. Thomas subsequently explained his reasons in a Facebook post that criticized the growth of the federal government. While players can be suspended for missing team events – teammate Tyler Seguin, a second-year player, was forced to miss a game after sleeping through a team breakfast – the team decided against suspending Thomas for his political protest. Try explaining to your boss that you’ll be skipping work for political reasons, and you probably won’t be as successful.
Making obscene outbursts. While actors are usually the highest-paid employees on the set, they’re really not in charge – it’s the director who calls the shots. Yet actors can go on obscenity-laced tirades against bosses and co-workers that would get the average officer worker fired in an instant. Consider, for instance, the fight between actress Lily Tomlin and director David O. Russell on the set of I Heart Huckabees, or Christian Bale’s screaming tirade against the director of photography on Terminator: Salvation. Disagreements are common in any workplace, but screaming and swearing is rarely tolerated in the office.
Using Drugs. We thought we’d throw this one in as an example of something that some celebrities can’t get away with. While many employers test their workers for drugs, many workers still engage in recreational drug use on their own time and don’t face consequences if it doesn’t interfere with their work. But that’s not the case with professional athletes, most of whom have to adhere to strict substance-abuse policies. Consider, for instance, Ricky Williams, the star running back who was suspended multiple times for drug use. Williams’ unique position means that for all his riches and fame, he can’t partake without losing his job.
Matt Brownell is a staff reporter for MainStreet. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @Brownellorama.