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OFF BEAT: Worker sues employer after boss allegedly draws obscenity on computer


A worker and his former boss are trading charges about profane language and sunflower seeds in a dispute.

According to a news report in the Chicago Sun-Times, Miaoguang Jin, a former worker for a national facilities maintenance firm, SMS Assist L.L.C., is suing his erstwhile employer, claiming his boss put a naughty word on his computer.

But the former boss said he had several problems with the worker, including his habit of eating sunflower seeds, and his taste in music.

Mr. Jin charges the indignities he suffered during his six months at Chicago-based SMS Assist, include his boss, Jianqing Zhao, the firm’s chief information officer, gaining access to his computer to draw a big “f--- you” on his screen, and then inviting the office to have a look and a laugh.

Mr. Jin, a native of China, charged also that while a $75,000-a-year project manager, Mr. Zhao mocked his English. Other claims in the lawsuit, which names the firm, Mr. Zhao and Mr. Zhao’s wife, who is an SMS Assist employee, as defendants, include that he worked more than 500 hours of overtime at the firm, and was shown the door when he refused a request to work part time. Mr. Jin is seeking $37,000 to $75,000 in damages.

Mr. Zhao denies the charges. “I hired him and first of all he didn’t perform his job and he took a nap during work all the time,” Mr. Zhao said. “And he ate sunflower seeds all the time in the office, and he’d listen to non-work related music all the time.” Mr. Zhao did not offer an explanation as to what he considered to be work-related music.

SMS said in a statement, “We cannot comment on the specifics of the lawsuit at this time, since we have not had an opportunity to fully review the claims. However we can tell you that SMS Assist is committed to treating its employees fairly and has demonstrated a strong culture of respect, integrity and humility.”