Can a privacy claim be carried too far?

Utility Man Grade II Jerry Parsons smelled like a brewery. Maintenance Supervisor Harry Cochran suspected him of drinking on the job, which was prohibited by a strict company rule. But Cochran couldn't nail him on smell alone. He had to have evidence.

09/01/1998


Utility Man Grade II Jerry Parsons smelled like a brewery. Maintenance Supervisor Harry Cochran suspected him of drinking on the job, which was prohibited by a strict company rule. But Cochran couldn't nail him on smell alone. He had to have evidence. The supervisor decided to keep an eye on him.

Two hours after lunch break, Cochran saw Parsons turn into an aisle of the stockroom. He observed the worker taking a swig from what appeared to be a pint bottle of whiskey. Looking up, Parsons saw him, quickly capped the bottle, and shoved it under his sweater.

Hurrying down the aisle, Cochran asked him what he was doing.

"Uh, I'm on my way to the men's room."

The bottle wasn't visible, but it certainly made a bulge in the sweater.

"What have you got under your sweater?"

"Nothing. Why?"

"I'd like to see for myself. Take off your sweater."

"No way. It's too cold around here. They should turn up heat."

Cochran's patience was running out. "I'll turn up the heat all right if you don't show me what's under that sweater."

"I don't have to show you anything. It's an invasion of privacy."

"I'll give you one more chance, Parsons. Either take off the sweater or take the consequences."

The worker persisted in his refusal. He stomped off and out of the stockroom.

Question : Were Parsons' privacy rights violated by Cochran's insistence that he remove his sweater?

Babbitt's verdict: "Not at all," Plant Engineer Herb Babbitt told Cochran. "To say the least, you had probable cause to suspect him of drinking on the job. Parsons' refusal to let you see for yourself can be based on one reason alone, his knowledge that he was guilty. Is this his first offense?"

"The first time he was caught."

Babbitt nodded. "My suggestion is that you hit him with a 2-wk suspension and strong official warning."





No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
World-class manufacturing: A recipe for success: Finding the right mix for a salad dressing line; 2015 Salary Survey: Manufacturing slump dims enthusiasm
2015 Top Plant: Phoenix Contact, Middletown, Pa.; 2015 Best Practices: Automation, Electrical Safety, Electrical Systems, Pneumatics, Material Handling, Mechanical Systems
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Getting ready for industrial IoT; Visualizing the (applied) automation continuum; Preventing VFD faults and failures; Using wireless for closed-loop applications
Migrating industrial networks; Tracking HMI advances; Making the right automation changes
Understanding transfer switch operation; Coordinating protective devices; Analyzing NEC 2014 changes; Cooling data centers

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.