Fred, a 17-year employee with Sam’s Sauna, was fired for poor job performance and poor attendance, after accruing five disciplinary penalties within a 12-month period under the company’s progressive disciplinary policy. A week later, Fred told his former supervisor that he had a substance abuse problem.
Although there was no employee assistance program in place and the company had not been aware of Fred’s condition, their personnel director assisted Fred in obtaining treatment by allowing him to continue receiving insurance benefits and approved his unemployment insurance claim. Fred subsequently requested reinstatement, maintaining that he had been rehabilitated since his discharge and was fully capable of being a productive employee. He pointed to a letter written by his treatment counselor, which said that his prognosis for leading a “clean, sober lifestyle” was a big incentive for him.
Fred pleaded for another chance, arguing that his past problems resulted from drug addiction and that Sam’s Saunas should have recognized and provided treatment for the problem. Sam’s Saunas countered that Fred should have notified his supervisor of his drug problem, and that everything possible had been done to help him receive treatment. Moreover, the company stressed that the employee had been fired for poor performance and absenteeism. Use of the progressive discipline policy had been necessary because the employee had committed a string of offenses over the course of a year, including careless workmanship, distracting others, wasting time, and disregarding safety rules.
1) Should Fred be reinstated? 2) Was the company fair to Fred in helping him receive treatment? 3) Did the personnel director behave ethically toward Fred? 4) Did he act ethically for his company? 5) Would it be fair to other employees to reinstate Fred?
Courtney from Study Moose
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