LEICESTER, England, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- British telecommunications operator BT Group has drawn criticism after 30 employees were suspended for forwarding a joke that mocked Irish people.
The company said workers at a Leicester, England, call center were suspended after "a complaint was made about a joke which could be offensive to some people," the Daily Mail reported Monday.
Some call center employees said the company's investigation of the incident was a waste of money and a charade to allow the company to fire employees due to the recession without consequences.
"Either BT have no sense of humor whatsoever or the bosses are deliberately trying to get shot of people without having to pay any redundancy money," one worker said. "The joke was sent around the office as a bit of fun. Everyone is worried about their jobs but we all try and cheer each other up."
The joke involved the jumping deaths of three Irishmen: The first leaps with a bird called a budgie, calling the act "budgie-jumping," while the second kills a parrot in an attempt at "parrot-shooting" and the third jumps with a chicken in his hands -- "hen-gliding."
Among the defenders of the suspended employees was the Leicester Irish Society, which said Irish people "are famous for their sense of humor but it appears BT have lost theirs."
"Suspending staff over a little joke is stupid and it would be funny if it wasn't so serious for the people whose jobs are on the line," the group said.