Human After All

Published on: 
Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology-10-02-2008, Volume 32, Issue 10

To err may be human, but to really mess things up, you need management.

Hide it from HQ

"At our site, the union had penetrated even the quality control laboratories," reports our GMP Agent-in-Place. "So the sample clerks were in the union. Unfortunately, one of them was left off of the raise during the second year of the contract that the union had negotiated. When the mistake was caught, the company didn't want to simply cut a check for the missed pay, because it would need approval from headquarters, and the site bigwigs didn't want headquarters to be informed.

"After a hectic meeting with the supervisor, manager, director, and vice-president, the clerk was offered the missed raise and the next raise immediately, so that during the next six months, the shortfall would be made up and more. The meeting caused such a commotion for the clerk, that she finally decided to just take the offer home overnight to think about it."

Let them take coach


"At our company, each division made its own rules regarding travel," says our GMP Agent-in-Place. "Research was considered a division, and although I worked in the research laboratory next to the quality control laboratory, my rules were different. The staff from quality control got to use business class for international travel, while we in research had to take coach.

"What really torques me is that our vice-president would take the Concorde. Evidently our taking coach saved the division enough money for his high-speed travel."

Our favorite employee

"We had two sites about an hour apart, but in different countries," says our GMP Agent-in-Place. "One employee was assigned to work at the other site, but didn't want to move. So he considered himself still an employee at the original site and would drive on company time, which took an hour to an hour and a half each way daily. It was only later that we found out that he would also run all his errands on this commute, such as stops to the dry cleaners, car wash, getting gas and grocery shopping, all on company time. Nice work if you can get it."

They got some explainin' to do

"I couldn't believe it," says our GMP Agent-in-Place. "I was called in to human resources with my new-to-the-company boss and was fired! There was no reason, no excuse, just fired.

"I went to the factory on the following Monday to finish up my project and was again called into the human resources department. They noted that they had, over the weekend, found some work for me to do, and gave me a new assignment with the same boss, same department, and same job level. Again they had no explanations. How can you trust a situation like that? I soon found another job and resigned."

Bombs and baseball

"It wasn't your normal day," recalls our GMP Agent-in-Place. "We had received a telephoned bomb threat, and after evacuating all the employees, management was asked to inspect the entire million-square-foot facility for the bomb.

"We each teamed up with a police officer and assigned an area. My area included some plenum/attic spaces. While there, we found some stored insulation rolls that were neatly stacked up to make a cozy seating area as well as a television that an employee must have brought in. (It was, after all, the baseball World Series season.) We never did find a bomb, but the TV was the talk of the place for weeks."

Pharmaceutical Technology's monthly "Agent-in-Place" column distills true-life cautionary tales from the secret files of Control, a senior compliance officer. If you have a story of clueless operators, oblivious management, inopportune lapses of judgment, or Murphy's Law in action, please send it to Control at We won't use any names, but if we do use your tale of disaster, courage, or just plain weirdness, Control will send you a coveted Pharmaceutical Technology t-shirt.