Job vacancies: Do laid-off employees come first?

When an instrument repairman's job opening developed, Maintenance Manager Elliot Abbott had Personnel place a help wanted ad in the local newspaper. Applicants were interviewed and Bill Cochran, an experienced candidate, was hired.
By Raymond Dreyfack July 1, 1998

When an instrument repairman’s job opening developed, Maintenance Manager Elliot Abbott had Personnel place a help wanted ad in the local newspaper. Applicants were interviewed and Bill Cochran, an experienced candidate, was hired.

A week later Vincent Delgardo, a mechanic on layoff, showed up at Abbott’s desk.

“How come I wasn’t notified about that instrument repairman job opening?”

“The job calls for an experienced man. First thing I did was check the layoff list. No one qualified.”

“I have 4-yr experience as a mechanic,’ Delgardo persisted.

“That doesn’t qualify you as an instrument repairman.’

“There’s not that much difference. With a little training I would have qualified.”

“The company isn’t obligated to train you. You’re either qualified or not.”

Delgardo stomped off to rally his union representative’s support. “The least you could have done,” Plant Steward Mike Rankin told Abbott, “was given him a chance.”

When Abbott refused to back down, Rankin threatened to sue.

Question : If Rankin follows through on his threat, do you think he will win?

Graham’s decision: “The outside hiring stands,” Plant Engineer Jack Graham ruled when informed of the dispute. “Hiring preference for a laid-off employee applies, but only if he is as well qualified as the job applicants. I’m assuming, of course, that if it comes down to it you can produce documented evidence that proves the guy you hired is significantly better qualified than Delgardo.”

“No question about it.”

“In that case the defense rests.”