If it’s not already too late, don’t pull that April Fools prank before you read this. Considering what USA Today has to say about office pranks, you may want to just forget the whole thing.
“Career advisers,” says the newspaper, “recommend that pranksters keep the jokes at home.” A few years ago, notes the article in today’s edition, a survey of marketing and advertising agency executives found these creative types harrumphing at office pranks. “Not at all appropriate,” responded 41% of them.
Donna Farrugia, executive director of specialty staffing firm The Creative Group., which sponsored the survey, warned that, “April Fools’ jokes often have a target, too, which can make them hard to pull off without hurting someone’s feelings.”
Avoid picking on someone or pranking them in a way that isn’t obviously funny to them and everyone around them. “If you do decide to pull a prank, don’t be a bully. Don’t do anything that could seem mean or offensive,” says Georgia job search consultant Miriam Salpeter.
It’s not just employees that pull pranks. Employers, do, too. And, they, too, can get up doing dumb things. In 2001, a waitress won a restaurant promotion a Toyota to the server who sold the most beer during the month. She was led to the parking lot and given a toy Yoda. Everyone but she — and the court — thought it hysterical. The subsequent lawsuit was settled for enough, her lawyer, said, to get “any Toyota she wanted.”
Interviewed by a Denver TV station, labor lawyer Kim Ryan recounted a number of April Fool’s pranks that backfired, including one where a jury awarded punitive damages to a worker victimized by a racially insensitive gag.
Now, if you’re still determined to pull off that prank you’ve been planning for weeks, at least do a reality check. Says labor attorney Eric J. Holshouser, “A good rule of thumb is to avoid any comments or conduct at work that you would not be comfortable saying or doing in church or court. And I can tell you from experience that some jokes are a whole lot less funny when told in federal court.”