Uncommon side: Disloyal assistant -- Part II

A flood of responses via e-mail, fax, and snail mail was unanimous in the opinion that if anyone should have been called on the carpet, demoted, dismissed, or otherwise castigated, that person was Chief Engineer Joel Chase. As respondent George L.


A flood of responses via e-mail, fax, and snail mail was unanimous in the opinion that if anyone should have been called on the carpet, demoted, dismissed, or otherwise castigated, that person was Chief Engineer Joel Chase. As respondent George L. Miller states the case, "It seems unlikely that after 14 yr of satisfactory performance, Pillsbury has, all of a sudden, outlived his usefulness." According to Miller, Chase should be fired, with Bradley taking his place.

Strong stuff. Plant Manager Rick N. Shoemaker recommends consulting Human Resources to determine options and actions and, if the company is at risk from Bradley, to begin damage control. Human Resources Director Clifford Alan Goodman wonders how and why a termination in violation of federal law was able to get by both Carl Holt and the HR department. Good point.

Several respondents agree that firing a 62-yr-old employee with 14-yr service was unconscionable. Mechanical Engineer David T. Jacobsen goes so far as to wonder "what kind of cave Mr. Chase crawled out of." At least, says Jacobsen, the $12,000 pay cut should apply to him, not to Bradley.

Human Side expert Professor Seymour Fader decries Chase's ignorance in his "awareness of what constitutes discrimination in the workplace." Holt has to decide, Fader adds, "whether he can continue to be effective as chief engineer." Since he now has two subordinates -- Bradley and Pillsbury -- who both think he's the pits, he should no longer be permitted to interact with them.

Consultant Leonard J. Smith agrees. If Chase is retained, he suggests, he should at least be the recipient of a hard-hitting training program to set him straight. And if it's true that Fred Pillsbury is "slowing down," it is management's responsibility to determine why, and to find ways to compensate for the slowdown.

Finally, e-mail respondent Roger King states that Plant Engineer Holt should do some soul searching of his own for not having thoroughly investigated this situation before an EEOC investigator showed up.

Must sexual harassment be gender-based?

If one thing can be said for Group Supervisor Jerome Simon, it's that he's democratic. He's as apt to berate a male employee as a "stupid fairy" as he is to refer to a female worker as a "worthless broad."

Thus, when Mary Grayson, a maintenance utility worker, came to Maintenance Supervisor Charley Wilson with a sexual harassment charge against Simon for subjecting her to such abusive epithets as those cited and worse, Simon dismissed the charge as invalid because his behavior wasn't "sexually motivated."

"I treat men and women the same if I feel they deserve it," Simon replied when called to account. "I don't single out one or the other."

Simon produced witnesses to prove his contention.

Democratic sexual harassment. This situation was a new one on Wilson, a case that required judgment by a higher court.


Question: Should Simon's democratic nature take him off the hook?

Marconi's decision: "Now I've heard everything," Plant Engineer Marconi told Wilson, when brought up to date on the situation. "Get Simon in here."

When the group supervisor arrived, Marconi asked, "So you feel your impartial use of sex-based abusiveness invalidates Mary Grayson's sexual harassment complaint?"

Simon shifted uncomfortably. "Yes sir."

Marconi nodded. "There may be some justification to that. Very well, if that's how you want it. We'll revise the charge to 'vulgar and abusive behavior' to keep it correct. On that basis, you can pick up your final check in the payroll department."

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Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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