If you snooze, do you lose?

It was 3:00 p.m., quitting time was 2-hr away. Maintenance employee George Hollow was feeling under the weather and yawning prodigiously. Aside from a queasy stomach, he felt beat from having stacked several cartons of supplies for the past 2 hr.
By Raymond Dreyfack February 1, 2000

It was 3:00 p.m., quitting time was 2-hr away. Maintenance employee George Hollow was feeling under the weather and yawning prodigiously. Aside from a queasy stomach, he felt beat from having stacked several cartons of supplies for the past 2 hr. About to ask Maintenance Supervisor Tom Prentice for the rest of the day off, he thought better of it. He couldn’t afford to lose 2-hr pay. If he took a short nap, it might recharge his batteries and help him soldier through until quitting time.

With that thought in mind, Hollow stretched out in a large empty crate with his feet protruding. He rolled his sweater under his head, and was soon snoring contentedly. Passing by on an errand Prentice wondered who could possibly be sawing lumber in his department.

Next thing Hollow knew, he was rudely awakened by kicks applied to the bottom of his shoes. Employees nearby stopped work to enjoy the show. Coming out of a stupor, Hollow’s initial reaction was rage. “You stupid dumb jerk!” he yelled. “I should –” But when the kickee recognized the kicker, he turned red and apologized.

Which made the irate supervisor no less irate. Not only was the guy sleeping when he was supposed to be working, he had insulted a member of management in the presence of other employees. A clear case of insubordination.

“You’ve had it, Hollow!” Prentice barked, and stormed off to type up a dismissal notice, which the worker protested as too harsh a penalty for the offense.

Question: Do you agree that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime?

Mandell’s decision: When Plant Engineer Bob Mandell reviewed the dismissal notice, he asked for Hollow’s personnel file. This file revealed that the employee was a 9-yr veteran with a satisfactory work record.

“Suspend him two days for sleeping on the job,” he instructed Prentice, “and swallow the insult. In view of Hollow’s record and apology, it wasn’t intended as insubordination.”