Uncommon side: Disloyal assistant — Part I

Chief Engineer Joel Chase was fuming. The object of his anger was his assistant, Senior Engineer Greg Bradley. In Chase's opinion, Bradley had committed the unpardonable sin: Disloyalty to one's organization and superior.
By Raymond Dreyfack March 1, 1999

Chief Engineer Joel Chase was fuming. The object of his anger was his assistant, Senior Engineer Greg Bradley. In Chase’s opinion, Bradley had committed the unpardonable sin: Disloyalty to one’s organization and superior. Bradley was going to pay for it; there was no doubt in Chase’s mind about that. The penalty was no harsher than he deserved, the chief reasoned. The demotion included the removal of “senior” from his title, plus a $12,000 pay cut from his annual salary.

His disloyalty was triggered by Chase’s order to fire Fred Pillsbury, 62, because, according to Chase, he had “outlived his usefulness. He lacks the spark, he’s too slow on the uptake, and he is close to retirement anyway.”

Bradley was disturbed by the order. “Fred’s a 14-yr employee. Maybe he isn’t as sharp as he once was, but –“

“Just do as you’re told,” Chase snapped.

Stunned by his dismissal, Pillsbury filed an age discrimination complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. The EEOC investigator assigned to the case interviewed Bradley, who explained that he had been instructed by his superior to fire Pillsbury. He also repeated Chase’s age-related remarks. As a result, Pillsbury was reinstated with back pay.

When Plant Engineer Carl Holt was informed of Bradley’s demotion with “disloyalty” cited as justification, he summoned Chase to his office.

Question: In Holt’s place, what action would you take?

Please send your ideas on how to solve this case to: Uncommon Side I, Plant Engineering , 2000 Clearwater Dr., Oak Brook, IL 60523; e-mail cfirestone@cahners.com; fax: 630-320-7145. Part II will appear in the August 1999 issue of Plant Engineering .