Raymond Dreyfack Contributing Editor
Shift cancellation: What is management's obligation? The weather looked threatening on the one hand. On the other, business was slower than usual. Plant Engineer Murray Kreissman paid Maintenance Supervisor Tim Hanley a visit. "What do you think, Tim? Can we get by without a second shift?" "I was asking myself the same question," Hanley replied. After a short discussion Kreissman instructed Hanley to call off the second shift. Six employees were slated to clock in at 5 p.m. Hanley told Joe Fry, his assistant, to contact the men and tell them not to report. Fry telephoned five of the six without difficulty and gave them the message.
Safety violation: Withdraw the suspension? More often than not, discipline stands up when a safety rule is violated. Rightly so. Safety rules are set up and enforced to avoid employee injury and the loss of corporate assets.
Undermining associates: Can he be fired? If a plant popularity contest were held, Maintenance Planner John Tyler wouldn't have wound up at the bottom of the barrel. He would have been underneath it. The word most often used by Tyler's associates to describe him was "obnoxious." Tyler regarded himself as a superior human being and wasn't hesitant to make known not only his brilliance, but his coworkers' inferiority as well, regardless of their feelings. He was always certain what had to be done, and knew he could do it better than anyone else. Tyler was seemingly oblivious to others' response to his denigrating remarks.
Employee illness: Full recovery disputed After a tough bout with pneumonia, and following nine days in the hospital, Welder Grade I Tony Molinaro telephoned his boss that he was ready to return to work. "That's good news," Maintenance Foreman Al Comanche replied. "Did you get a green light from your doctor?" "No problem. The doc says I'm fit as a fiddle and ready for action.
A man's job? Don't treat women as the weaker sex When a stock handler's job opening appeared on the bulletin board, it caught Alma Kornhauser's attention. But when the utility worker applied for the job, Maintenance Foreman Joe Sternfeld didn't take her request seriously. Kornhauser lost no time assuring him she was perfectly serious. The job would carry with it an increase in pay. Kornhauser reminded her boss she was a single mother with two kids to support.
Prohibited offenses: Must violation be on the list to warrant discipline? The plant's policy manual included a list of employee offenses likely to result in discipline up to and including termination. These included among others: Being under the influence of alcohol during working hours Theft of company property Assaulting or threatening to assault supervisors or coworkers Insubordination Violation of safety rules. Floyd McIntyre, a marginally performing welder, had been repeatedly and justifiably denied incremental wage increases over his 3 yr of employment. The worker was eloquently bitter on the subject. One day the company, in an effort to attract skilled personnel, participated in a Job Fair conducted at a nearby municipal facility. McIntyre showed up at the event and accosted several participants, sounding off on why his employer was the worst company in town to work for. When word of his action reached McIntyre's boss, Maintenance Foreman Harvey Chesnik, he promptly typed a termination notice spelling out the charge.
When Jeff Dugan, a former warehouseman, walked into the plant one sunny afternoon, he took Maintenance Foreman Harry Cooper by surprise. "What are you doing here?" Cooper asked. "I thought you were in the Army." Dugan had volunteered for service the week following the September 11th attack, and had been sent to the Middle East where he served in Afghanistan.
Heated argument escalates: Is fighting cause for dismissal? Maintenance Foreman Jeff Arnold had been called out of town for two days. Before leaving he instructed Ted Berner, his assistant, to "keep an eye of things" while he was gone. That afternoon Group Leader Joe Salmon resented the way Berner appeared to be observing him more closely than usual. "I don't like the way you've been spying on me," he groused. "Tough luck, pal," Berner snapped back. "I'm just doing my job.
Assignment dispute: Must unit rep be summoned while on overtime? Saturday morning a skeleton crew was on hand working overtime. Maintenance Supervisor Joe Moody instructed Utility Worker Frank Durkin to scrub down two large tanks in the lab. The tank scrub-down was the dirtiest job in the plant. "It's not my turn," Durkin protested. Ordinarily an effort was made to split up the scrub-down as evenly as possible among the department's three utility workers. Durkin pointed out he had done a scrub-down only a week ago. "Sorry about that," Moody sympathized.
How old must one be to claim age discrimination? Utility Man Grade II Bernie Ratner was assigned to a group of employees who worked the day shift in Warehouse B. His performance rating was "Satisfactory." The way he felt about his job, however, and the way he was treated by his boss and coworkers was, in his opinion, far from satisfactory. Other workers in the five-member crew had nothing to do with him. They had lunch and snacked during break periods at a table in the employee cafeteria where Ratner was made to feel unwelcome.