Think twice before firing a disabled employee

Maintenance Foreman Ed Halley wished he had chosen a more peaceful career after being informed anonymously that Joe Spartan, an electrician, had AIDS. When confronted with the report Spartan reluctantly admitted he was stricken.


Maintenance Foreman Ed Halley wished he had chosen a more peaceful career after being informed anonymously that Joe Spartan, an electrician, had AIDS. When confronted with the report Spartan reluctantly admitted he was stricken.

"Hundreds of studies have been made," the anxious employee assured Halley. "The evidence is overwhelming that AIDS is not communicable without sexual contact. There's nothing to worry about."

"You're probably right," the foreman replied. "Let me give it some thought. I'll get back to you."

Halley was anything but sure Spartan was right. When he got home, he consulted his wife. "Emma, in my place, what would you do?"

Emma frowned. "I dunno, Ed. I wouldn't feel comfortable working side-by-side with a person who has AIDS."

"Yeah, but --"

Emma shrugged. "Why don't you put it to a vote in your department? How many people do you have working for you?"

"Eighteen. That may not be a bad idea."

Next day, Halley sent Spartan on an errand outside the department and put the question to the rest of the crew. The vote was no by a margin of 13 to 5. Halley broke the bad news to Spartan.

"Sorry, pal, it's a rotten break. But you can't fault people for being scared. You wouldn't want to work in a place where most of the crew feel that way."

Spartan didn't take the news lying down. "I've got rights," he told Halley. "And I intend fighting for them."

Question: What would you do in Halley's place? Can he stick by his decision to terminate Spartan?

Train's verdict: Plant Engineer Fred Train's first move upon receiving the termination notice for approval was to rake Halley over the coals. "For one thing, you violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by firing Spartan instead of adjusting the job to his illness. For another, you broke the law by confiding his medical problem to the rest of the crew. I'll try to talk him out of legal action if I can. If not, I'll try to work out a fair financial settlement with Personnel should he decide to resign."

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.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Doubling down on digital manufacturing; Data driving predictive maintenance; Electric motors and generators; Rewarding operational improvement
2017 Lubrication Guide; Software tools; Microgrids and energy strategies; Use robots effectively
Prescriptive maintenance; Hannover Messe 2017 recap; Reduce welding errors
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Research team developing Tesla coil designs; Implementing wireless process sensing
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Natural gas engines; New applications for fuel cells; Large engines become more efficient; Extending boiler life

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me