Asleep on the job: Is dismissal too harsh?

Maintenance Utility Worker George Maris was assigned the disagreeable task of removing the sludge from two tanks in the lab. An hour later, Maintenance Supervisor Carl Hoffman found him asleep on a steel shelf nearby. Hoffman nudged him awake.


Maintenance Utility Worker George Maris was assigned the disagreeable task of removing the sludge from two tanks in the lab. An hour later, Maintenance Supervisor Carl Hoffman found him asleep on a steel shelf nearby.

Hoffman nudged him awake. "That's it, Maris. I've had it with you. Your check will be mailed to you."

"Hey, gimmie a break," Maris pleaded. "I started cleaning out the sludge like you assigned when the fumes started getting to me. If I hadn't rested for a few minutes, I would've passed out."

"That's bull," Hoffman replied. "Guys have been removing that sludge for years. The fumes are harmless. I never heard of anyone passing out from them."

"I couldn't help how I felt."

Hoffman didn't believe him and told him so. Maris muttered darkly that he "would see about that."

Question : Is dismissal too harsh a discipline under the circumstances?

Klein's decision: Hoffman brought his boss up-to-date on his run-in with Maris. Plant Engineer Ralph Klein called Ben Etri, the company's lab director and asked if the sludge in question was harmful in any respect.

"Not at all," Etri replied. "It may smell like a skunk in heat, but it's been checked out by OSHA. There are no ill effects from breathing it."

"Is it sleep-inducing?"

"Not to my knowledge."

Klein asked Hoffman, "What kind of performance record does this guy have?"

"A shade or two short of mediocre. Also, this is the second time he's been caught asleep on the job."

"Case closed," Klein ruled. "The dismissal stands."

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