How much employee negligence warrants discharge?

The ultimate employee discipline is termination. Under what circumstances is it justified? Dishonesty, certainly. Violence resulting in damage to person or property, assuredly. Sexual malfeasance, decidedly.

03/01/1998


The ultimate employee discipline is termination. Under what circumstances is it justified? Dishonesty, certainly. Violence resulting in damage to person or property, assuredly. Sexual malfeasance, decidedly.

What about negligence? In most cases dismissal would be too harsh a penalty. But each situation must be decided on its own merits.

Instrument Repairman Perry Shea was a marginal employee at best. Ill tempered, a heavy drinker. Macho. Maintenance department employees were encouraged to seek help in lifting an object too heavy or cumbersome for one person to handle.

Shea couldn't be bothered. He had muscle to spare. On one occasion, he picked up and dropped a heavy instrument, causing $560 damage. Maintenance Foreman Pete Schiffo instructed him in writing to ask for help in lifting or transporting heavy items in the future. A copy of the memo was placed in his personnel file. When it recurred 3-mo later, he was issued an official warning, which again became part of the record.

More recently, wrestling with a 65-lb piece of equipment, Shea, who had been drinking, tripped while trying to maneuver it through a doorway. The damage was estimated at $1300. Schiffo's response was short and simple. "That does it, Shea. You're fired."

Shea protested the action. "Dismissal is too harsh. Anyone can have an accident."

When Schiffo brushed aside his protest, Shea threatened to sue.

Question : If Shea follows through, how do you rate his chances of winning?

Krautkamer's verdict: When informed of the incident, Plant Engineer Edward Krautkamer's support of the decision was swift and decisive. "To sustain dismissal for carelessness or negligence, evidence of such negligence must be strong. Management must be ready to prove that the employee displayed an almost willful disregard of correct procedures with little, if any, regard for the consequences. It would be hard to argue that Shea doesn't fill the bill in this case."

And with that, Schiffo trotted off to deliver the message to Shea.





No comments
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
Control noise, vibration in building design: Tackling acoustics and design issues; High-performance building design; NFPA 99; Combined heat, power
40 Under 40; Stand-alone medical buildings; NFPA 92; Specialty fire suppression; Applying 90.1 in lighting design
2016 Product of the Year Finalists: Vote now; Data center Q&A; LED codes; Smart buildings
Putting COPS into context; Designing medium-voltage electrical systems; Planning and designing resilient, efficient data centers; The nine steps of designing generator fuel systems
Designing generator systems; Using online commissioning tools; Selective coordination best practices
Understanding transfer switch operation; Coordinating protective devices; Analyzing NEC 2014 changes; Cooling data centers
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.
click me