Think twice before firing a disabled employee

Maintenance Foreman Ed Halley wished he had chosen a more peaceful career after being informed anonymously that Joe Spartan, an electrician, had AIDS. When confronted with the report Spartan reluctantly admitted he was stricken.


Maintenance Foreman Ed Halley wished he had chosen a more peaceful career after being informed anonymously that Joe Spartan, an electrician, had AIDS. When confronted with the report Spartan reluctantly admitted he was stricken.

"Hundreds of studies have been made," the anxious employee assured Halley. "The evidence is overwhelming that AIDS is not communicable without sexual contact. There's nothing to worry about."

"You're probably right," the foreman replied. "Let me give it some thought. I'll get back to you."

Halley was anything but sure Spartan was right. When he got home, he consulted his wife. "Emma, in my place, what would you do?"

Emma frowned. "I dunno, Ed. I wouldn't feel comfortable working side-by-side with a person who has AIDS."

"Yeah, but --"

Emma shrugged. "Why don't you put it to a vote in your department? How many people do you have working for you?"

"Eighteen. That may not be a bad idea."

Next day, Halley sent Spartan on an errand outside the department and put the question to the rest of the crew. The vote was no by a margin of 13 to 5. Halley broke the bad news to Spartan.

"Sorry, pal, it's a rotten break. But you can't fault people for being scared. You wouldn't want to work in a place where most of the crew feel that way."

Spartan didn't take the news lying down. "I've got rights," he told Halley. "And I intend fighting for them."

Question: What would you do in Halley's place? Can he stick by his decision to terminate Spartan?

Train's verdict: Plant Engineer Fred Train's first move upon receiving the termination notice for approval was to rake Halley over the coals. "For one thing, you violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by firing Spartan instead of adjusting the job to his illness. For another, you broke the law by confiding his medical problem to the rest of the crew. I'll try to talk him out of legal action if I can. If not, I'll try to work out a fair financial settlement with Personnel should he decide to resign."

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.
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