Human Side of Engineering

In the September 1999 issue of Plant Engineering, Human Side of Engineering presented "Uncommon side: The hoodwinked employee -- Part I.
By Raymond Dreyfack March 1, 2000

In the September 1999 issue of Plant Engineering , Human Side of Engineering presented “Uncommon side: The hoodwinked employee — Part I.”

Chief Engineer Joel Shifron was dismayed when he heard via the grapevine that Group Leader Vince Russo had all but decided to accept a job offer from a competitive firm. Shifron did his best to dissuade him, but Russo had apparently made up his mind. Shifron asked the young engineer to hold off until he had a chance to talk to management. At a meeting, Russo was informed that the boss agreed to give him a 15% raise, effective at once.

Russo countered that the new job he was offered came with a promise of making senior engineer within a year.

Shifron huddled again with Plant Engineer Harry Boggs, and returned to give Russo the same assurance about making senior engineer within a year.

Russo decided to take the raise and the promise of making senior engineer and stayed with the company. But soon, the company’s fortunes went downhill. Russo’s work output fell off as well, along with performance throughout the department. He received a termination notice just 6-mo later.

Russo was stunned. “You said I would make senior in a year, and that my job was good for life.”

“Maybe so,” Shifron countered. “But your productivity fell below standard.”

“That’s a crock,” Russo replied. “Since the volume of work fell off, there was nothing I could do.” He threatened to sue for breach of promise.

How do you rate Russo’s chances of winning the suit?

Cases for “Uncommon side” are drawn from actual plant experiences. If you have a problem in human relations or labor relations on which you’d like professional opinions and the viewpoints of others, we’d like to hear from you. Names and situations are changed to protect the privacy of the person who presents the problem.

If your problem is chosen for publication, Plant Engineering magazine will send you a check for $100. Write to Human Side of Engineering, 2000 Clearwater Dr., Oak Brook, IL 60523, e-mail:, fax: 630-320-7145.

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Names used in Human Side of Engineering are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons is coincidental.

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