What you need to know
I read with great interest the article that came out in Plant Engineering in regards to NFPA 70E (May 2004). The information was very informative.
However, the picture in Figure 3 shows an electrician measuring for voltage on a rather large motor which would probably be 480 volt. He is using all of the prescribed equipment as specified by NFPA 70E except for a face shield. The irony is the highlight of the changes as called out on the first page of the article is that “The most significant change is the addition of the arc-rated face shield in the Hazard Risk Category 2.”
My problem is that we have been in the process of implementing NFPA 70E in our plant for the past 2 years. A lot of our maintenance people read the magazine. When they see pictures that do not support the rules, it causes them to question if we as managers are going down the correct path.
In the April 2004 issue, Mr. Dreyfack has a manager uphold a blatant pregnancy discrimination action. In the “Can pregnancy be considered a dischargeable offense?” case, the interviewer that asked a leading question regarding a female applicant’s “long-term performance” (and then insinuating that she concealed her pregnancy) is an illegal hiring question. Questions about family status and pregnancy are forbidden in job interviews and are seen as prima facie discrimination.
Please use someone with a modern foundation (possibly SHRM [Society for Human Resource Management] certified) in human relations for this column or remove it from your publication.
It serves only for poor entertainment at this time.
David Everett, Safety Environmental Manager, DAMON Corp.
My purpose in framing Human Side anecdotes has always been to present material in such a way that it will help readers arrive at a fair, reasonable, and “human” resolution of problems that occur on the job. Anecdotes most often derive from actual arbitration cases reported in the press, in books, manuals, newsletters, and elsewhere. Some also derive from SHRM literature.
I never offer legal advice. Over Human Side’s long history I know of no case where anyone was sued as the result of action prompted by a Human Side case.
In my work for Human Side I refer often to SHRM material and advice. My principal guru regarding these cases is Leonard J. Smith, an American Arbitration Society panelist and cofounder of SHRM. I discussed “Can pregnancy ever be considered a dischargeable offense” with Len Smith. He agrees the plant engineer in question made the right decision.
With regard to this case, two points must be made: (1) Pregnancy was never referred to at Peggy Conrad’s interview, which would have been illegal. (2) Conrad was not discharged because she was pregnant, but because, when asked if “she knew of anything that might interrupt or interfere with her long-term performance,” her reply was negative. She was fired, not for being pregnant, but for having resorted to deception to obtain employment, thereby inflicting considerable cost and inconvenience on the company. With this in mind the plant engineer was correct in ruling that her discharge was not discriminatory.
Specifically, Mr. Everett might wish to track down Page vs. Chandonnet , DC Md. EPD 39,816, a case tried some years ago, in which the court ruled that a pregnant woman’s discharge was not illegal because, like Conrad, “she had concealed her pregnancy during her job interview and rejected an alternate position.” Not every cause or conclusion is as obvious as it appears at first sight.
Ray Dreyfack, Contributing Editor