Bomb scare: What constitutes proper notification?

Terrorist incidents had increased in the area. When the president of ABZ Co. received a bomb threat at 5:39 a.m. one morning, Plant Engineer Murray Friedman took it seriously.
By Raymond Dreyfack June 1, 1998

Terrorist incidents had increased in the area. When the president of ABZ Co. received a bomb threat at 5:39 a.m. one morning, Plant Engineer Murray Friedman took it seriously. He agreed with the president that pending investigation the plant should be shut down for the day. Friedman immediately notified local TV and radio stations. An announcement was made that the plant would be closed. Personnel were instructed not to report to work for the day shift.

Twenty-seven employees didn’t hear the announcement, showed up at their usual hour, and were sent home. The bomb scare turned out to be a false alarm.

The next day a spokesperson, Alexander Foreman, appeared at Friedman’s desk requesting that the 27 employees be paid 4-hr reporting pay. Under the labor agreement, he pointed out, reporting pay comes due when employees are sent home without having been notified the night before not to report.

“That clause doesn’t apply in this case,” Friedman said.

Foreman insisted it did.

“I’ll check it out and get back to you,” Friedman promised.

Question : In your opinion, must the company give the 27 employees reporting pay?

Greene’s opinion: “There’s no guarantee how a given arbitrator might rule in this case,” Corporate Attorney Edna Greene told Friedman when informed of the workers’ request. “But in my view, management acted reasonably and expeditiously in attempting to notify the work crew. Ordinarily, reporting pay might be justified. But in this situation, where a potential emergency existed, management’s primary concern had to be for employees safety. The night before was no longer an option. I don’t think the reporting pay clause should apply.”