I would like to bring to light a very important and very troubling issue about a certain man who is beloved by all children. I'm talking about Santa Claus. There is a dark side to this "jolly elf" and it is never more apparent than in the desperate cry for help that is the Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer song. Many do not know that the song is actually taken from the testimony of a Civil Case when Rudolph N. Reindeer (The Plaintiff) testified in open court about the egregious actions of his former employer, Santa N. Claus (The Defendant). As folklore evolves there is usually some kernel of truth at the center of the story. While it has been centuries since the infamous Rudolph vs Claus and Santa N Claus Industries civil case, the basic bones of the dispute remain highlighted by a jaunty melody once thought to be a simple Christmas Carol.
|Rudolph N. Reindeer Employee Photo from S.N. Claus Industries|
According to The Defendant, It all started out so innocently. He was under pressure to hire a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Having exclusively hired flying reindeer for centuries, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, The Department of Labor and the Better Business Bureau all applied pressure to The Defendant's Corporation (Santa N Claus Industries) to make reasonable accommodation for non flying reindeer and possibly train non flying reindeer to fly in the future.
As revealed in the testimony, The Plaintiff was born with an unusual birth defect. His nose produced light, and it glowed uncontrollably. As a result of this defect, The Plaintiff became the center of scorn and discrimination by many in his peer group. He recalled the many times when his peers at SNCI used to laugh at his expense and would use hate speech when referring to him or his disability. He also painfully recalled the times he was not allowed to play in the annual SNCI Reindeer Sporting League of hide and seek. Apparently his disability would always give away his position, resulting in a loss for whomever's team he was on. This truly devastated The Plaintiff. He was driven to the point of absolute solitude, and every time he filed a formal complaint with Human Resources he was summarily dismissed. It came to light that The Defendant did not enforce the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), or the corporation's anti-harassment policy. Therefore, discrimination ran rampant through the Reindeer Division.
The impetus for the suit brought against S. N. Claus Industries (SNCI) came about from the following incident:
It was a usual Christmas Eve and employees of SNCI were working yet another holiday shift. It is important to note that there was no overtime or holiday pay, in addition to the regular working pay for this day. This is a direct violation of the FLSA for nonexempt/hourly employees. As it happened, on this particular Christmas Eve, the weather conditions at the headquarters of SNCI were not suitable for transport. According to the National Transportation Safety Review Board, the black box from the sleigh showed that the weather was very foggy, and the pilot of the sleigh, which was assumed to be The Defendant, was unable to safely navigate out of the area. It was later revealed through testimony from an employee by the name of Blitzen Reindeer and corroborated by another employee, Prancer Reindeer that The Defendant stopped piloting the sleigh several centuries ago. In fact The Defendant left the navigation and piloting up to a few select elves that worked in the SNCI factory during the rest of the year. Apparently the piloting was used as an incentive reward for Elf employees that met their annual quotas for production. Since most of the navigation software was state of the art, it made piloting the sleigh almost foolproof. However, on this specific Christmas Eve the remote sensing software in the guidance control application was not operating correctly. The ability to use infrared/FLIR (forward-looking infrared imaging systems) was down. With the thermal imaging cameras, components, and imaging sensors non-operational, the sleigh was unable to navigate towards its first destination. At that point, it looked as if The Defendant was ready to abort the mission.
It was during the testimony of a Ms. Vixen Reindeer (now former employee of SNCI) that she declared that The Defendant was alerted to The Plaintiff's disability and decided to exploit it for personal gain. It turns out that SNCI was due a huge bonus for delivery on Christmas Eve from at least 36 countries on the planet. If the corporation failed to deliver by the due date, those countries were going to go with the sub-contractor E. Bunny, Incorporated (EBI) to deliver on Christmas Eve. SNCI was greatly upset with this possibility as EBI had already cornered the market on Easter Sunday deliveries. In addition, EBI was in talks to pair up with the Tooth Fairy Corporation (TFC) for world-wide distribution of Easter Candy and procurement of lost teeth related activities. As a result of the immense pressure to meet deadlines and the possibility of losing billions of dollars in bonuses The Defendant asked The Plaintiff to guide the sleigh and use his glowing nose as a combination beacon and guiding light for the severely handicapped sleigh.
The Plaintiff testified that as soon as The Defendant gave him the lead position for the sleigh all of his peers in the company suddenly and inexplicably accepted him into the secret Reindeer Society, and they all began to shout. They also announced that The Plaintiff would "go down in history". The Plaintiff expressed confusion over his selection as lead reindeer and sudden membership into the secret Reindeer Society. The Plaintiff had received only the most remedial training on flying and never with a sleigh attached. He also had only booked 4 flight hours total because, as previously mentioned, his peers excluded him from any and all interaction and used hate speech against him because of his disability. The Defendant admitted in court that the other Reindeer were given specific orders to induct The Plaintiff into the secret Reindeer Society and shout his name in order to build up the confidence of The Plaintiff. The Defendant said his motivation to "build up confidence" was because The Plaintiff had almost no flying experience and was hired in order to quell the EEOC, DOL and BBB complaints against The Defendant's discriminatory hiring and promotion practices.
As the NTSB revealed, the Black Box of the sleigh showed that the takeoff was shaky as The Plaintiff had not adjusted for wind shear and a drop in the barometric pressure due to the high fog in the area. Once airborne, the Elves, who were piloting the sleigh realized they were “flying blind” as the FLIR was down. Not equipped to deal with these types of shortfalls, the Elfs all abandoned the vehicle using the emergency parachutes provided in the sleigh. Now airborne with no pilot, no navigation device or any guidance at all, The Plaintiff suffered what doctors testified to as a panic attack. The sleigh took an immediate nosedive. Before it could even escape the Arctic Circle, the sleigh, its eight tiny reindeer, The Plaintiff, and the entire contents splashed down into the sub zero freezing waters of the Arctic Sea.
This is where the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) notes that the sleigh did not meet the minimum safety requirements for a water landing. There were not enough life rafts for the flying reindeer, and the ones that did inflate were easily punctured by the reindeer's antlers and hooves. As it turns out the Russian icebreaker ship called the Krasin, was in the area and was able to provide rescue for almost all of the reindeer and all of the cargo that the sleigh was transporting. Of the eight reindeer in addition to The Plaintiff, only, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen and Blitzen survived. Comet suffered a broken neck and was killed immediately upon impact, Cupid had severe hypothermia, and while rescued from the water, he eventually succumbed to his injuries aboard ship. The body of Donner was never recovered.
The Plaintiff sued The Defendant for $14.5 million dollars for illegal termination, violation of FLSA requirements, and pain and suffering. The Plaintiff was unable to pull a flying sleigh without severe pain to his upper back and hind quarters. His disability was further exacerbated as a result of the accident. While his nose would glow only occasionally before the accident, it now glowed all the time, making it impossible for him or his spouse to sleep. The Defendant filed for bankruptcy. After the fines levied by the NTSB and OSHA, the loss of the Christmas contract to EBI and failed attempts to secure the place as the sole provider of gifts for Valentines Day, The Defendant has lost almost all of his staff and had no capital to keep what little of his business he had left, operational.
The ruling of the court was for The Plaintiff. Civil cases for wrongful death filed by the family members of Donner, Cupid and Comet went forward as a result of the guilty verdict in this case.
So while the folksong technically says Rudolph "you'll go down in history!", it was not the historical notoriety that he or anyone would want. After the civil cases were settled, Easter Bunny, Inc (EBI), won the re-bid for the Christmas contact. EBI became the majority shareholder in SNCI after Santa was forced to sell his stock in the company in order to pay off his legal bills. EBI then hired Santa as the "face" of Christmas for continuity purposes. In order to pay off the debt owed in the judgments for all the cases, Santa makes appearances at local malls, on fire trucks in local parades and as the key guest at the end of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. He lost his long standing Coca-cola sponsorship to Polar Bear Conglomerated and no longer appears in the advertisements. All compensation, minus a modest stipend for Mr. Claus to live off of, is put into a fund to pay off the victims of that tragic Christmas Eve.
♪ ♫ Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,
Had a very shiny nose,
And if you ever saw it,
You would even say it glows.
All of the other reindeer,
Used to laugh and call him names,
They never let poor Rudolph,
Join in any reindeer games.
Then one foggy Christmas Eve,
Santa came to say,
Rudolph with your nose so bright,
Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?
Then all the other reindeer loved him,
And they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,
You'll go down in history. ♪ ♫
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