Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

On occasion, you have to wonder what goes through some companies' minds.

Or, at least, through the minds of their executives.

Yes, all companies have rules. How you enforce those rules is something else.

So let's cut to a trash bag that was sitting on the stairwell of a United Airlines plane at Shannon Airport in Ireland.

Inside it was a TIME magazine.

I pause for your own witticism here.

Airport worker Tim Marks espied the TIME magazine and thought he'd have a read of it.

And so his employer, airline security firm ICTS, fired him for gross misconduct. It considered Marks' act theft.

Yes, the magazine had been thrown away by a passenger. It was, however, against the rules for airport workers to take anything from planes.

The rules. 

Marks thought the enactment of these rules a touch unfair, so he took ICTS to an Employment Appeal Tribunal.

Finally, four years after he was fired, the tribunal offered its verdict. As the Irish Independent reports, it awarded him 29,000 Euros (around $33,215). 

ICTS offered an entertainingly profound argument for its position. Its Station Manager, Audrey Wilhite, told the tribunal: 

We are a security company and the whole basis of what we do is protecting all of the items on the aircraft. That is our purpose for being there. If we have someone who breaches that, it is serious, it is extremely serious and we can't actually proceed with that person.

On following this logic, some may not be able to proceed with a straight face. 

The magazine was in the trash. It had been discarded. Ergo, its value was zilch.

Still, Marks confessed that "it was a mistake and one could consider it to be not professional, but it wasn't a deliberate act."

So many times companies seem to invoke rules with such draconian enthusiasm. 

It's as if they can't imagine there could be any sanction between doing nothing and, well, not actually proceeding with that person.

Home Depot, for example, is a company that seems to have struggled with this, when its employees try to stop shoplifters or others who appear to be committing crimes.

In making its decision in Marks's favor, the tribunal referred to "the value and significance of the property item in dispute, and the length of service and good employment record of Mr Marks."

Marks had worked for ICTS for nine years. Would a quiet word in his ear not have sufficed?

Oh, but when we're talking about the security of a TIME magazine in a trash bag, punishment has to be severe.

And now ICTS must pay for such thinking.