A Spanish civil servant elevated the term “playing hooky” to new heights, after officials discovered he had been skipping work for at least six years.
Joaquin Garcia, a 69-year-old supervisor at a wastewater treatment plan in the southwestern city of Cádiz, was busted in 2010 after he became eligible for a commemorative award celebrating 20 years of service, the BBC reports. Inquiries to his manager revealed that although Garcia had been granted the position in 1990, nobody had heard a peep from his office in years. Garcia lost an appeal related to the case earlier this year.
According to The Independent, when Garcia's manager tried calling him, Garcia allegedly couldn't answer questions about what he had been doing. “We thought the water company was supervising him but that was not the case,” Jorge Blas Fernandez, who worked as the city’s deputy mayor from 1995 to 2015, told Spain’s El Mundo newspaper.
A legal case launched against Garcia in 2010 alleged that he had collected an annual salary of €37,000 despite having not worked since 2004. This week, Garcia lost his appeal against the lawsuit. He was ordered to pay a fine of €27,000 (or $30,000)—one year’s worth of his annual salary after taxes, and the largest sum that the wastewater company could legally regain.
Garcia denied the allegations. The 69-year-old said that he was a victim of political bullying in a previous position and the company moved him to a different post. He showed up to work at his new job every day only to find that there was nothing to do. Since Garcia had a family to support, he didn’t report the situation, and instead spent his days reading philosophy.
Garcia reportedly wrote to the mayor, requesting not to have to pay the fine, and he also sought a review of the judgment.
While Garcia’s six-year work hiatus has made global headlines, this isn’t the first time that a paid employee simply stopped going to work without a manager's notice. In 2015, an Indian public official named AK Verma was fired for taking a 24-year “furlough.” Meanwhile, an unnamed city worker in Norfolk, Virginia was sacked in 2010 for collecting a salary with benefits for 12 years without showing up to work. Makes you feel a little better about that "sick day" you took last week, huh?