Skip to main content
Home World U.S. Weather Business Sports Analysis Politics Law Tech Science Health Entertainment Offbeat Travel Education Specials Autos I-Reports
U.S. News
Career Builder

Notorious workplace scandals

Adjust font size:
Decrease fontDecrease font
Enlarge fontEnlarge font

( -- Serious workplace blunders, whether illegal, unethical or simply unsavory, continually make national headlines.

Though recent years seem to have seen a spike in such scandals, the truth is that there were plenty of badly-behaved people around long before we reached the current millennium.

Here's a list of notorious job-related slip-ups, both past and present.

Past Scandals

One Word: Watergate

When five men were arrested for attempting to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate complex in the months leading up to the 1972 presidential election, they probably had little understanding that they'd just kicked off the biggest workplace scandal in U.S. history.

Richard Nixon resigned from his position as United States president in 1974 when tape recordings from Nixon's office indicated that he had tried to deflect the investigation of the Watergate political spying scandal.

Abuse of Power, Parts Two, Three and Four

Accounts of workplace sexual harassment seem disturbingly commonplace these days, with none more alarming than those that involve our nation's political leaders.

Past political sexual harassment scandals range from the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill controversy in 1991 to the President Clinton-Monica Lewinsky affair of late 1990s.

In more recent news, Mark Foley, a six-term Republican Congressman, resigned in 2006 after it was discovered that he had sent sexually suggestive e-mails and instant messages to teenage male Congressional pages.

Some speculate that public upset over the scandal contributed to the 2006 mid-term elections results in which Republicans lost control of Congress.

Not A Good Thing: Insider Trading

Domestic diva Martha Stewart had a bumpy start to the millennium.

After being accused of insider trading in 2002, she was eventually convicted of obstruction of justice and served a five-month prison term.

Though she's currently barred from serving as a director of a public company, there's little doubt that when the restriction is lifted in 2011 Stewart will promptly take the business reigns once again.

Enron's End

Since the extent of Enron's fraudulent accounting was made public, the word Enron itself has come to epitomize the term "corporate scandal."

There were several developments in the Enron saga in 2006, with founder, chairman and CEO Kenneth Lay dying of a heart attack three months before he could be sentenced for his conviction on 10 counts of fraud and conspiracy.

Enron president and COO Jeffrey Skilling was also convicted of fraud and conspiracy, and was sentenced to 24 years in federal prison.

The Scandals of 2006

Writers Behaving Badly

Between plagiarizing, lying and ticking off Oprah (the patron saint of scribes), writers were on a quite a roll in 2006. James Frey's supposed memoir was revealed to be a work of fiction, humiliating Oprah -- who'd already given her book club stamp of approval -- and, one would hope, Frey's publisher.

Meanwhile, it was discovered that Kaavya Viswanathan, the Harvard undergraduate with the six-figure book deal, plagiarized numerous passages of her novel from earlier works by novelist Megan McCafferty.

Shady Sleuth

Hollywood private detective Anthony Pellicano was arrested and indicted in February 2006 on charges including wiretapping, racketeering and identity theft.

The detective's unethical and illegal exploits made headlines due in part to his star-powered roster of clients and investigation targets, which included John Travolta, Michael Jackson and Nicole Kidman.

Cruise Gets Canned

Tom Cruise's erratic behavior in recent years -- including suspiciously exuberant expressions of love for Katie Holmes and rants against psychiatry -- caught the attention of his boss, Sumner Redstone, the CEO of Paramount Pictures' owner Viacom.

As Cruise's public approval rating slipped, Redstone added insult to injury by severing Paramount's relationship with the megastar.

Not-So-Strange Bedfellows

ReganBooks publisher Judith Regan has long been known to woo scandal, but she outdid herself in 2006 with the decision to publish O.J. Simpson's hypothetical non-memoir, "If I Did It."

The book was cancelled after the public expressed outrage over its publication, and in December Regan was fired by her boss, News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch.

Sources:,,, and

© Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority




Quick Job Search
  More Options
International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise with Us About Us Contact Us
© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
SERVICES » E-mails RSSRSS Feed PodcastsRadio News Icon CNNtoGo CNN Pipeline
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more