Employee absence: How frequent is frequent?

Utility worker Charley Asch tried to sidle into the plant alongside another employee so he wouldn't be seen by the boss. But Maintenance Supervisor Alexander Reed spotted him nonetheless.

09/01/1998


Utility worker Charley Asch tried to sidle into the plant alongside another employee so he wouldn't be seen by the boss. But Maintenance Supervisor Alexander Reed spotted him nonetheless.

"Hey, Asch, where were you yesterday?"

"I had a bad back."

"That's too bad. Didn't it occur to you to call in sick?"

"It must've skipped my mind."

"Well, I'm warning you, don't let it happen again. This warning is going into your file."

"I'll remember next time," Asch assured him.

Three months later, he was out for 2 days. His memory failed him again.

"Three strikes and you're out," Reed informed him. "Stay out again without calling and it's curtains."

A disciplinary notice went into the worker's personnel file to confirm the supervisor's warning.

When Asch's AWOL predilection for unreported absence was repeated 2-wk later, Reed confronted the employee with a termination notice. Alongside REASON FOR DISMISSAL was stated, "frequent unexcused absences."

Asch challenged the dismissal. To support his challenge, he quoted The American Heritage Dictionary: "'Frequent -- occurring or appearing quite often or at close intervals.' All I had was three unexcused absences, and they didn't occur at close intervals. That's not frequent. Either I'm reinstated, or I sue."

Question : Does Asch have a point? Can he get out of the dismissal?

Carter's verdict: Carter's verdict: "No way!" Plant Engineer Don Shulman ruled when Reed informed him of Asch's response. "Three unauthorized absences without call-in and supported by ample warnings and documented evidence are frequent enough for our purpose. Asch can sue all he wants. He remains fired."





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