Excessive absence: Can you deny merit increase?

I've been ripped off," Carpenter Grade II Sam Horner protested when he saw that the amount on his paycheck was the same as it had been the week before. He had been passed over for the quarterly merit increase.
By Raymond Dreyfack February 1, 2000

I’ve been ripped off,” Carpenter Grade II Sam Horner protested when he saw that the amount on his paycheck was the same as it had been the week before. He had been passed over for the quarterly merit increase.

“Sorry about that,” Maintenance Supervisor Josh Herman said in response to Horner’s complaint. “I’ve been instructed by management to tighten up on merit increases, check individual performance more closely. What killed your increase was your excessive absenteeism.”

“That’s not fair,” Horner persisted. “My work’s as good if not better than the two other carpenters.”

“Granted, but they don’t have your very marginal attendance record.”

“Maybe so, but every one of my absences was for good cause and unavoidable.”

“Sorry, pal, I have to call them the way I see them.”

Horner refused to settle for this reply. He carried his gripe to Plant Steward Cal Evans who supported his stand.

“Sam’s right that he’s been ripped off,” Evans told Herman. “His work’s above average and he’s got family and health problems at home. His attendance is no worse than it has been in the past, and he’s been getting quarterly raises for years. There’s no reason he should be suddenly cut off.”

Herman disagreed but promised to “look into it” further.

Question: Do you think Horner should get the merit increase?

Popkin’s decision: “Give Horner the increase,” Plant Engineer Mort Popkin instructed Herman. “For one thing, you can’t overlook his above-average performance on the job. For another, you can’t suddenly set new standards for earning a merit increase without first laying the groundwork. Horner’s file shows no record of progressive warnings for excessive absence. Since it was condoned in the past, you’ll have to tolerate it this time as well until lax standards are properly upgraded.”