It was bound to happen: All those Harlem Shake videos on YouTube have finally gotten the attention of the lawyers. According to Law.com, the Federal Aviation Association is investigating safety concerns over a Shake incident by passengers on a Frontier Airlines flight. (You will perhaps not be surprised to learn that the group was led by members of Colorado College’s Ultimate Frisbee team.) Safety concerns were also cited in the firing of a group of Australian miners for their on-the-job Shake performance. (See more in the Law.com article, When the Harlem Shake Bumps Against Workplace Policy.)
The article didn’t even scratch the surface of employees recently fired for participating in dance crazes, including an Oxford Librarian fired for allowing the filming of a Harlem Shake video at the University, and the Gagnam Style 14, a group of young lifeguards in Southern California who were fired, then rehired, after posting their homage video. Ride those horsies straight to the unemployment line, kids! Even Conan O’Brien has gotten into the act, firing an Indian chief, an astronaut, a giant banana, and someone dressed as a pillow, just as they start gettin’ their Shake on. (Okay, so this last one seems to be a parody.)
Some employment lawyers have taken this opportunity to talk about the infiltration of social media into the workplace, draining company resources and lowering employee productivity. I suppose that’s fair enough, and there may be true safety concerns when employees are getting their groove on down a mine shaft. On the other hand, some of these videos look to be real morale boosters. They can even be useful to employers: A local rescue group for older dogs (Muttville) has posted theirs — which includes people dressed as dogs and actual dogs — as a promotional video. At least we can be glad it isn’t thirty years ago, when the Streak was popular! Oh wait, it still is for this fired guy.