A visibly upset Rudolph Reindeer is comforted by his friend, Hermey. Inset photo is S. Claus, the founder and CEO of Santa’s Workshop. Illustration by Andy Coughlan

NORTH POLE — This quiet polar community whose economy is solely tied to the holiday season has been rocked by allegations of labor abuse, discrimination and creating a toxic work environment at Santa’s Workshop, the area’s sole employer.

According to documents obtained by this reporter, a lawsuit has been filed against Santa’s Workshop LLC by Rudolph R.N. Reindeer claiming damages for emotional distress. The case is expected to be a class action suit as other claimants join in.

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The documents include an affidavit claiming Rudolph was the victim of verbal abuse, principally laughing and name calling, by other reindeer on the basis of a physical birthmark, namely a “shiny nose.” Furthermore, Rudolph was deliberately excluded from recreational activities.

“It was terrible,” a clearly emotional Rudolph said in a Zoom interview. “Even from when I was young, my parents encouraged me to put coal dust on my nose to cover it up, fearing the abuse I would get. My father was even told by Santa that it would hinder my chances for advancement to the sled team as I grew up.”

An animated recreation of the encounter has been uncovered by this reporter.

Further investigation has revealed that Santa’s Workshop is, in fact, a sweatshop where tables of small people, dubbed “elves” by management, are forced to produce toys around the clock to “meet the Christmas rush.” One worker, Hermey, claims that when he was harangued by a supervisor for his slow work, he decided to leave to pursue his dream career as a dentist. Santa’s Workshop does not have any re-training opportunities for its workers.

Rudolph said that when he learned to fly, he was lauded for his prowess, but that when his false nose fell off to reveal his shiny nose, his immediate supervisor, Comet, expelled him from the sled team, which Rudolph claims is discrimination under the ADA (Arctic Disabilities Act).

Citing an “oppressive and toxic workspace,” Rudolph and Hermey decided to leave. A spokesman for the Workshop denies forcing the pair out, claiming it was their choice to quit the company.

The displaced workers came across a satellite facility where a group of playfully-challenged toys had been isolated. The toys claimed they had been discriminated against and exiled for a range of reasons and labeled “misfits” by the Workshop management. This seems to affirm charges of a negative culture of labelling within the organization.

After a harrowing encounter with an inhabitant of the area (cruelly dubbed “abominable” by the Workshop’s management), Rudolph returned to the workshop where he was expected to lead the sled team through the worst of the winter weather, despite being untrained.

“They tried to say it was because I was valued and I was the only one who could do the job,” Rudolph said. “Really, that just made me feel worse. One minute I’m the butt of all their jokes, the next I’m some sort of hero who will ‘go down in history.’ But nothing had changed. I was still the same old me. I didn’t even get overtime or hazard pay.

“I have been in therapy, which the company does not pay for, to try and sort out my feelings. It makes one question one’s identity, you know?”

Sam the Snowman, a spokesman for the workshop, said that conditions at the facility have worked seamlessly for millennia without complaints, and Rudolph’s claims do not have merit. The spokesman cited the positive effects on the local economy, where it is the only significant employer.

Counter claims argue that having a monopoly allows the Workshop to continue detrimental practices as workers, many from families who have been employed there for generations, are afraid of losing their jobs.

Snowman said that in the face of the complaints the company is considering relocating its manufacturing workshop to Asia and automating production. Santa is also considering moving distribution fully online, he said.

This “article” was meant for entertainment purposes.

This story first ran in the Dec. 9, 2022 Art of Living section of the Beaumont Enterprise.

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