When is name-calling a cause for discipline?

When Maintenance Department Utility Worker Bert Korsikov was instructed by Maintenance Foreman Al Creskin to scrape the rust from the outside railing and apply red lead, he protested vigorously. Too vigorously, in Creskin's opinion.
By Raymond Dreyfack October 1, 1999

When Maintenance Department Utility Worker Bert Korsikov was instructed by Maintenance Foreman Al Creskin to scrape the rust from the outside railing and apply red lead, he protested vigorously. Too vigorously, in Creskin’s opinion.

“Just do what you’re told,” Creskin ordered. “I don’t have time to stand here and argue with you.”

Korsikov refused to let it go at that. “I get all the garbage work around here,” he griped.

The worker accused Creskin of prejudice and playing favorites.

Losing patience, Creskin snapped, “Either do the job or clock out! I’ve had it with you Korsikov!”

“That goes both ways!” he yelled back, and called Creskin an unprintable name.

“What was that?” the foreman said.

Korsikov repeated the epithet.

“That does it,” Creskin said. “You can clock out right now. You’re on suspension for a week.”

“We’ll see about that,” Korsikov answered angrily.

Question: Do you think the foreman can make the suspension stick?

Plant engineer’s verdict: “Korsikov’s getting off easy,” Plant Engineer Ralph Ratner ruled when informed of the incident. “I’ve seen cases where employees were discharged for less. It’s bad enough refusing to follow an order in the first place. Compounding this by cursing out a supervisor is inexcusable. Korsikov’s record isn’t so bad so we’ll let it go at that. But if he continues to complain, send him to me and I’ll make it clear how lucky he is to still have a job.”