Reader Forum

Firing worker over cartoon too harshThis is in response to the Human Side of Engineering, the June 2001 issue in the special supplement. I was shocked at the answer to the first scenario with Bill Lapper, the cartoon-drawing mechanic. There is a bigger issue here, and that is the aftermath of firing someone for hanging a cartoon.

09/01/2001


Firing worker over cartoon too harsh

This is in response to the Human Side of Engineering , the June 2001 issue in the special supplement. I was shocked at the answer to the first scenario with Bill Lapper, the cartoon-drawing mechanic. There is a bigger issue here, and that is the aftermath of firing someone for hanging a cartoon. Even if the guy was hated by each coworker, people would want him fired for something else than hanging a cartoon.

You can't be living in my world, where nearly everyone has a Dilbert pinned somewhere. There's the accounting department with its spike-shaped chairs ("take a seat"), and let's not even get into Dogbert, the human resources manager. Every guy I know has a bank of 4-8 Dilberts and others posted.

The difference that he drew it himself instead of cutting it out of the paper is a minute distinction. Is a traced cartoon worse than the original? Did he really invent anything he couldn't have found with an hour search in the library? Is using the copier to make copies of something one wants to post at work (car for sale) a firing offense?

This firing would become an apochryphal story of this company and its treatment of employees. What you don't realize is the freedom to complain is the only true freedom. A medium level of complaining is the sign of a healthy company. It's where everyone parrots, "this is a great place to work, I love it here" that the atmosphere is the most oppressive.

The story will be told in hushed whispers throughout this company. Will everyone get it right that it wasn't a cartoon, it wasn't the use of the copier? Nope. The story will be, don't post jokes and don't complain. Look at what happened to Bill.

Do you know how many people saw that cartoon and snorted or smiled to themselves in momentary sympathy? They will feel awful when they find out he was fired for that. They will ask themselves how something that provided a mild smile…well, the sledgehammer killing the fly.

Better would be to have him do penance like scrub down garbage cans or something else. — Lynnette Hartwig, Cooper Power Systems, Milwaukee, WI.

Correction

In the Suggestions and Solutions section of the August PLANT ENGINEERING, the pricing information for the TripleGuard extended warranty was inaccurate. It should have read as follows: Costs for eligible products range from $16.95-$495.





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