When to clamp down on too much "socializing"

Veteran Engineer Charley Hoffskin liked his liquor. When he appeared flushed and unsteady in the hospitality room at an industry trade show one evening, Hoffskin's supervisor, Project Leader Bill Fallon, also present, was keeping an eye on him.

02/01/1998


Veteran Engineer Charley Hoffskin liked his liquor. When he appeared flushed and unsteady in the hospitality room at an industry trade show one evening, Hoffskin's supervisor, Project Leader Bill Fallon, also present, was keeping an eye on him. Fallon calculated that Hoffskin had downed at least four drinks thus far. When he spoke to him about it, Hoffskin said, "No problem, I'm just socializing." Two or three drinks later, as the evening drew to a close, Fallon's concern heightened.

"Charley, who's driving you home?"

"I'm driving myself."

"I don't think that's a good idea. You're in no condition to drive."

Hoffskin was offended. "I can hold my liquor. I'll have a cup of coffee before I leave."

Fallon tried to reason with him, but Hoffskin was beyond reasoning.

Fallon decided he had to take a firm stand. "I'm sorry, Charley, I can't allow you to drive."

"It's not your place to allow or disallow what I do outside the plant."

"That's not true. Your membership in the association and sponsorship at this conference is paid for by the company. Your safety and well being, not to mention the safety of others, is my responsibility. I'll call a taxi and arrange to have your car driven to your house."

Hoffskin refused to back down.

"Charley, if you insist on driving, I'll have no choice but to fire you."

"And I'll have no choice but to sue."

Fallon sighed. "If that's the way you want it." He told Hoffskin he was fired, and explained the reason to two other staff members who shared his opinion that Hoffskin was in no condition to drive.

Question : What do you think? Is Fallon acting properly, or exceeding his authority?

Markham's response: When Fallon reported the incident to Plant Engineer Harry Markham, his action was supported completely.

"Conference attendance, sanctioned and sponsored by the company, is clearly company business. Hoffskin's own safety aside, if he had an accident and killed or injured someone, the company could have been sued for big bucks."





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