Preparing to fire a dud? Use full documentation

John Dudley was aptly named, Maintenance Foreman Al Russo thought. The mechanic qualified as a dud better than anyone he knew. Decision time had arrived. Russo checked the repeated notes he had made in Dudley's file for one infraction or other.
By Raymond Dreyfack September 1, 1998

John Dudley was aptly named, Maintenance Foreman Al Russo thought. The mechanic qualified as a dud better than anyone he knew. Decision time had arrived. Russo checked the repeated notes he had made in Dudley’s file for one infraction or other. After two oral warnings and one suspension, enough was enough.

Following a 2-day unexcused absence, Russo summoned Dudley to his desk and gave him the bad news.

“My patience has worn out, John. I’m gonna have to let you go.”

Dudley appeared stunned. “Just like that! Without even a warning!”

“You have to be kidding. I can’t remember how many times I called you on the carpet during the past 6 mo.You received two warning notices and one suspension. Did you think that could go on forever?”

“It’s not fair. The contract says — “

“I don’t care what the contract says. You’re fired, buddy.”

“We’ll see about that.”

A union man, Dudley stomped off to find Shop Steward George Maddock. Minutes later he reappeared at Russo’s desk with the steward in tow.

“You can’t fire this man without adequate advance notice and warning,” Maddock protested.

“I agree. Take a look at his file.”

Maddock scanned Russo’s entries and notes. “That’s not adequate,” he said.

“Sez who?”

“Sez me. If you don’t rescind that order, we’ll sue.”

Question : Should Russo stick to his guns or rescind?

Plant engineer’s decision: “Let me have a look at Dudley’s file,”Plant Engineer Ralph Enten told Russo after being brought up-to-date.

Scanning through the documentation, the executive shook his head. “Your notes are too vague,” he said. “‘Absent from workstation,’ ‘extended coffee breaks,’ ‘unexcused absence.’ The details are missing. Date, time, length of absence, and so on. And the warnings aren’t official enough. They’re too easy to challenge. I don’t have to tell you, Al, termination is the ultimate discipline. Documentation must be detailed, specific, and complete. Dudley gets a free ride this time.”