DES MOINES, Iowa – A seven-year casino employee fired after posting in his office a "Dilbert" comic comparing managers to "drunken lemurs" has become the subject of the strip.
David Steward was fired from the Catfish Bend Casino because management found the cartoon "very offensive," human resources director Steve Morley had testified during a hearing on unemployment benefits in December 2007. The casino had challenged his claim for the financial assistance.
"Basically, he was accusing the decision-makers of being drunken lemurs," Morley testified at the time. "We consider that misconduct when you insult your employer."
But in a jab at the casino, "Dilbert" creator Scott Adams has written a series of comics inspired by Steward’s experience. The Des Moines Register reported on Wednesday that Steward was his muse for the new series: "I know good comic fodder when I see it," he said, "and any chance to mock the humorless is worth the effort."
One of the strips pokes fun at the firing:
Catbert: "Wally, I have to fire you for posting a comic comparing managers to drunken lemurs. You won't be eligible for unemployment benefits unless you can prove you were stupid as opposed to malicious. Can you prove you're stupid?"
Wally: "Is there another explanation for working here?"
Steward recalls sharing the comic with coworkers amid news that the casino was to close.
"We were all laughing about it," he told FOX News on Friday, referring to the "Dilbert" strip.
"Everybody said, 'Well, why don’t you put it on the bulletin board; maybe it'll cheer some of them up.'"
Steward did find it a home on the bulletin board. He left work for the weekend — but when he returned?
"I was told that I’m not a team player. 'We’re going to let you go.'"
Steward posted the comic that led to his firing in October 2007.
In the strip, Dilbert and another character are shown having the following exchange:
"Why does it seem as if most of the decisions in my workplace are made by drunken lemurs?"
"Decisions are made by people who have time, not people who have talent."
"Why are talented people so busy?"
"They're fixing the problems made by people who have time."
Steward testified that he posted the comic partly because of the impending layoffs.
"I thought maybe it would cheer some people up," he said at the time. "I found it humorous."
Administrative Law Judge Lynette Donner sided with Steward, ruling it was "a good-faith error in judgment," not intentional misbehavior.
Adams said it might have been the first confirmed instance of a worker being fired for posting a "Dilbert" strip in a workplace.
As for Steward, he still has hope for harmony in the workplace: "I hope to work somewhere that has a sense of humor — when I find something."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.