Can you change a work category on the basis of confidentiality?

Ellen Marshall had been Plant Engineer Jeff Cochrane's secretary for almost 4 yr. As his circumstances changed, Cochrane increasingly became privy to confidential information of a sensitive nature, particularly in regard to union and personnel issues.

12/01/1998


Ellen Marshall had been Plant Engineer Jeff Cochrane's secretary for almost 4 yr. As his circumstances changed, Cochrane increasingly became privy to confidential information of a sensitive nature, particularly in regard to union and personnel issues.

The main part of Marshall's job involved routine clerical activities. But in recent months, Cochrane needed assistance with correspondence and memos dealing with union matters. Exposing a member of the bargaining unit to such materials was becoming awkward and embarrassing. To avoid it, Cochrane found himself doing more and more of the clerical work himself.

When he transferred Marshall to another department and hired Betty White, a nonunion person, in her place and changed her job title to executive assistant, Plant Steward Neil Taylor challenged the action.

"Who are you trying to kid? White performs essentially the same duties as Marshall. Marshall is being discriminated against because she's a member of the union.''

"Not so,'' Cochrane countered. "She received no reduction in status or pay. Her exposure to confidential information creates a conflict of interest. Management has a right to protect materials that would be against its best interest to expose to the union."

Taylor didn't see it that way. He threatened a grievance.

Question : If this were your nut to crack, how would you decide?

Expert's solution: Cochrane gave the company's labor attorney a call and spelled out the situation.

"I can't see that the union has much of a case," Anita Raymond told Cochrane.

"You had good business reasons to replace Marshall. It wasn't done with discrimination or any ulterior motive in mind. Management has the right and obligation to keep confidential information confidential. On top of that, it doesn't make sense to have to impose a clerical burden on yourself to accomplish that purpose."





Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
October 2018
Tools vs. sensors, functional safety, compressor rental, an operational network of maintenance and safety
September 2018
2018 Engineering Leaders under 40, Women in Engineering, Six ways to reduce waste in manufacturing, and Four robot implementation challenges.
July/Aug
GAMS preview, 2018 Mid-Year Report, EAM and Safety
October 2018
2018 Product of the Year; Subsurface data methodologies; Digital twins; Well lifecycle data
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
October 2018
Complex upgrades for system integrators; Process control safety and compliance
September 2018
Effective process analytics; Four reasons why LTE networks are not IIoT ready

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Material Handling
This digital report explains how everything from conveyors and robots to automatic picking systems and digital orders have evolved to keep pace with the speed of change in the supply chain.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Design of Safe and Reliable Hydraulic Systems for Subsea Applications
This eGuide explains how the operation of hydraulic systems for subsea applications requires the user to consider additional aspects because of the unique conditions that apply to the setting
click me