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The rise of the Dark Knight workplace vigilante

Level 3 l Advanced
1 Warmer
According to an American survey, these are the five items most often taken from offices. Put them in order
from 1 (most often) to 5 (least often).

1. ________________ a. scissors
2. ________________ b. paper
3. ________________ c. paper clips
4. ________________ d. staplers
5. ________________ e. pens

2 Key words
Complete the sentences using these key words from the text.

contempt petty scrutiny infringement vigilante


reprimand enforcer watchful ordeal fallout

1. A _____________________ is someone who tries to catch and punish criminals by themselves, without
waiting for the police.
2. A _____________________ person notices everything that is happening.
3. An _____________________ is someone who is given the responsibility to ensure that rules are obeyed.
4. An _____________________ is an extremely unpleasant experience, especially one that lasts a long time.
5. If you have _____________________ for someone, you feel they are unimportant and deserve no respect.
6. If something is described as _____________________, it is not important and not worth worrying about.
7. An _____________________ is an occasion when someone breaks a law, rule or agreement.
8. _____________________ is the unpleasant effects of something that has happened.
9. If you _____________________ someone, you tell them in an official and serious way that something they
have done is wrong.
10. _____________________ is the careful examination of someone or something.

3 Find the information


Find the following information in the text as quickly as possible.
1. What are the three places mentioned in the article where you would normally expect to find vigilantes?
2. What name was given to office vigilantes by the researchers?
3. What percentage of the people in the survey had come across office vigilantes?
4. How many workplace sectors did the researchers examine?
5. How many accounts of office vigilantes did the researchers collect?
6. Which three workplace sectors were least likely to suffer from vigilante behaviour?
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NEWS LESSONS / The rise of the Dark Knight workplace vigilante / Advanced
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The rise of the Dark Knight workplace vigilante
Level 3 l Advanced
Who left food in the fridge? The University of British Columbia were left with 1,200
rise of the Dark Knight accounts of Dark Knight employees. In most
cases, respondents made no attempt to hide their
workplace vigilante contempt for the colleagues in question.
Self-appointed enforcers, keen to report
colleagues for misdemeanours, are a common 6 Derided as members of the little Justice League
and potentially costly issue for organizations, or simply Batman, vigilantes were described
survey finds as creeping around and looking over peoples
shoulders to catch others perpetrating even the
Ian Sample
most minor offences. One respondent described
4 May, 2017 a colleague who would always go to the higher-
1 They are the Dark Knights of the office: lone ups, getting good people punished for small
vigilantes who police the workplace, ever reasons, adding: Its like they have some kind of
watchful for heinous crimes that cannot go strange power trip. Or they just dont like people
unpunished. Woe to those who step out of line or mercy.
and return from break two minutes late, leave 7 In a report on the survey, entitled Vigilantes at
food in the office fridge too long and fail to refill work: examining the frequency of Dark Knight
the photocopier. employees, DeCelles and Aquino reveal the
2 More famous for populating Wild West gangs, petty nature of the infringements many people
superhero films and the New York subway, mentioned. Workplace vigilantes often reported
vigilantes are now found in all corners of people for minor offences, such as being two
professional life, a new survey has found. Over minutes late or leaving food in the office fridge
the course of their careers, more than half the too long, the researchers write.
people surveyed had experienced at least one 8 Not putting things back in precisely the right
Dark Knight employee, as researchers called place was another crime that vigilantes
them, while 18% said they still worked with one. commonly swooped on. Our paper is the first to
3 Researchers in Canada asked 2,000 people demonstrate that workplace vigilantes are indeed
in the US if they had come across workplace among us, in virtually every industry, DeCelles
vigilantes, meaning those who took it upon and Aquino add.
themselves to report their colleagues for 9 Much to the authors surprise, three people who
breaches of company policy or what they responded to the survey declared themselves
considered to be serious moral violations. office vigilantes. One felt obliged to look out for
Fifty-eight per cent had and, on average, property being stolen from the company, while
respondents recalled four work colleagues another saw their role as holding the company
over the course of their career who fitted to account: I am a workplace vigilante. If a
the description. workplace is abusing me or its workers, Ill say
4 The self-appointed enforcers cropped up in large something, they declared.
organizations the most and in areas such as retail 10 For the most part, Dark Knight employees were
and technical services. Education, government seen as little more than a nuisance. According to
and other sectors where staff typically belonged the survey, their work colleagues felt stressed,
to unions had a high share, too, researchers angry and frustrated by vigilantes and shut up in
found. Companies with ethics hotlines and their presence or avoided them as much
other formal mechanisms for informing on ones as possible.
colleagues produced high numbers of office
11 But many people who took part in the survey
vigilantes. Of the 20 sectors surveyed, those in
reported serious fallout from self-appointed
forestry and agricultural work, mining and utilities
enforcers. Some of the vigilantes targets were
(water, electricity and gas) appeared most likely
reprimanded, sacked or left their jobs under
to be spared the ordeal of vigilante colleagues.
pressure of scrutiny. On occasion, the vigilantes
5 After weeding out stories of employees who themselves were terminated, according to the
were simply unpleasant, Katy DeCelles at the report. Referring to one Dark Knight employee,
University of Toronto and Karl Aquino at the a respondent said: This person was written up
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Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017


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NEWS LESSONS / The rise of the Dark Knight workplace vigilante / Advanced
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The rise of the Dark Knight workplace vigilante
Level 3 l Advanced
twice, given several verbal warnings, moved to vigilante syndrome. Dark Knight employees
a new shift and then let go since she could not appear to be a common and potentially costly
stop. It was so bad it was causing people phenomenon for organizations, they conclude.
to leave.
Guardian News and Media 2017
12 DeCelles and Aquino urge other researchers to First published in The Guardian, 04/05/17
look more deeply into what they call workplace

4 Comprehension check
Choose the best answer according to the text.

1. Where do these self-appointed enforcers appear most?


a. retail and technical services, education and government
b. forestry and agricultural work, mining and utilities
c. sectors where staff do not belong to unions

2. What kind of infringements do Dark Knight employees often report people for?
a. serious breaches of the company rules
b. minor offences such as leaving food in the office fridge too long
c. looking over other peoples shoulders

3. What did three of the people who responded to the survey surprisingly say?
a. that they stole property from their company
b. that they themselves were office vigilantes
c. that they could not stop reporting their colleagues

4. What percentage of those who responded to the survey said they still worked with an office vigilante?
a. almost one in five
b. 80%
c. more than half

5 Find the word


Find the following words and phrases in the text.

1. an adjective meaning extremely evil (para 1)


2. a two-word phrase used for warning someone they will be in trouble if they do a particular thing (para 1)
3. a four-word verb phrase meaning break the rules or do something wrong (para 1)
4. a four-word verb phrase meaning decide to do something without asking permission from anyone else (para 3)
5. a two-word phrasal verb meaning happen or appear suddenly or unexpectedly (para 4)
6. a two-word phrasal verb meaning remove a person or thing that is not good enough, especially from a group or
collection (para 5)
7. a verb meaning criticize someone by suggesting they are stupid, unimportant or useless (para 6)
8. a verb meaning make a sudden and unexpected attack on a person or place (para 8)
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Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017


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NEWS LESSONS / The rise of the Dark Knight workplace vigilante / Advanced
CA O
H
P
The rise of the Dark Knight workplace vigilante
Level 3 l Advanced
6 Verb + noun collocations
Match the verbs in the left-hand column with the nouns or noun phrases in the right-hand column.

1. perpetrate a. your job


2. fit b. no attempt
3. leave c. an offence
4. refill d. part
5. make e. the photocopier
6. take f. the description

7 Word-building
Complete the sentences with the correct form of the word in brackets at the end of each sentence.

1. Office vigilantes do not want to see crimes go ____________________. [PUNISH]


2. More than half the people in the survey had experienced at least one Dark Knight ____________________.
[EMPLOY]
3. Vigilantes often reported crimes such as not putting things back in ____________________ the right
place. [PRECISE]
4. Dark Knight employees appear to be a common and potentially ____________________ phenomenon for
organizations. [COST]
5. One person felt ____________________ to look out for property being stolen from the company. [OBLIGE]
6. People often shut up in the ____________________ of office vigilantes. [PRESENT]

8 Discussion
Discuss the statements.

It is morally wrong to steal things such as paper and pens from your company.
Informing on your colleagues is the worst crime of all.
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NEWS LESSONS / The rise of the Dark Knight workplace vigilante / Advanced
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