How to handle too much "socializing"

Each month, I look forward to reading the "Human Side of Engineering,'' and generally concur with the final decisions.


Each month, I look forward to reading the "Human Side of Engineering,'' and generally concur with the final decisions. However, the situation of the inebriated engineer at a trade show ("When to clamp down on too much socializing," PE, February 1998, p 15), was entirely mismanaged.

For starters, if it was known that "Charlie liked his liquor," he should not have been in the Hospitality Room in the first place, or travel arrangements should have been made in advance. Even worse was that the supervisor noted that the employee was "flushed and unsteady" after having at least four drinks, then just stood by and watched the employee have two or three more.

Although I agree with the decision to insist that the employee not drive, the supervisor showed extremely poor judgement by condoning the actions of the employee without intervention until the situation was entirely out of control. -- David R. Gawelek, Plant Engineer, Traub Container, MacMillan Bloedel Packaging, Bedford Hts., OH

In "When to clamp down on too much socializing," I do not feel we are given enough information to adequately make a decision. Some questions need to be addressed.

What sort of an employee is Charley? Is he a good, highly productive one, or one that has just been getting along by the skin of his teeth, and skating on thin ice for quite some time? Or does his supervisor have some other ulterior motive for wanting to use this indiscretion to remove Charley from the payroll?

Did Charley create a scene? Was he an embarrassment before suppliers or customers? Is Charley a problem drinker with a history of this type of behavior or was it a one-time thing?

In this case, it doesn't seem to be the overimbibing that is the sticky point, but Charley's insistence that he drive himself home.

But firing Charley is not necessary, not will it have the desired result -- which is to keep an intoxicated driver off the road.

A better response would be to call in the local police, who would certainly have an interest in keeping Charley off the road. I had a similar situation in which the person in question would not give up his keys. The police were called, the officer admitted a field sobriety test, which the person failed miserably. Then the officer explained that he could not prevent the person in question for climbing behind the wheel, but if he did make it to the road, it was the officer's right and duty to enforce the law to stop him, and that he could, and would, be arrested for driving under the influence and be taken to jail. The person changed his mind. Firing was not necessary, and the situation was handled to the satisfaction of all those concerned. -- Jim Brown, Cinox Corp.

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