There are several concerns and issues that had been analyzed by the new COO of the organization. Many aspects need to be carefully considered before making sound decisions of any corrective action or termination in effort to avoid legal actions. According to Connell and Castro, issues need to be carefully investigated by exploring relevant witness such as co-workers (Castro & Connell, 2009, p.31). This will ensure that situations with misunderstandings are not the issue. However, the conclusion made by the COO should be practical and within reason, not made on impulse or suddenly, and in line with the Employment-at-will doctrine. Although, employees can be dismissed at any time for whatever reason if there aren’t any statutes that would prohibit the act, careful review of the concerns listed below is needed for the betterment of the company and its strategic plans.
John posted a rant on his Facebook page in which he criticized the company’s most important customer. Jim sent an email to other salespeople protesting a change in commission schedules and bonuses and suggesting everyone boycott the next sales meeting.
Ellen started a blog to protest the CEO’s bonus, noting that no one below director has gotten a raise in two (2) years and portraying her bosses as “know-nothings” and “out-of-touch”
Bill has been using his company-issued BlackBerry to run his own business on the side. The secretaries in the accounting department decided to dress in black-and-white stripes to protest a memo announcing that the company has installed keylogger software on all company computers.
After being disciplined for criticizing a customer in an email (sent from his personal email account on a company computer), Joe threatens to sue the company for invasion of privacy.
One of the department supervisors requests your approval to fire his secretary for insubordination. Since the secretary has always received glowing reviews, you call her into your office and determine that she has refused to prepare false expense reports for her boss. Anna’s boss refused to sign her leave request for jury duty and now wants to fire her for being absent without permission. Summarization of Employment-At- Will Doctrine
In any kind of employment relationship, employment is a moment to moment employment contract between the employer and the employee. Therefore, the employment- at – will doctrine allows the employer to do whatsoever it feels to the respect of the employee. Putting it differently, the doctrine permits an employer to terminate a worker for any reason good, bad, or without reason as long as the termination is within the legal parameters (Urhuogo, 2010, p.29). In other words, if nothing else applies to the situation at hand such as a specific law of court case that would support the termination (Anti- Discrimination Law), then the employment – at – will doctrine will succeed.
However, exceptions at the federal, state, and city level such as specific statutes or laws and common laws (contract and public policy) allowed for modifications to be implemented to the employment-at-will-doctrine in effort to prevent an employer in terminating a worker under the more precise exemption. At the federal level Title VII (Civil Rights Act), which includes race, sex, national origin, and religion are protected. In addition, workers are protected under the Age Discrimination and Employment Act, Americans with Disability Act, and National Labor Relations Act, which protects workers that participate in a union.
Most state laws are paralleled to those laws implemented at the federal level. However, some states have expanded their laws to further modify the employment-at-will doctrine for example; some states have included sexual preference as being protected, which is not covered under the federal law. Common law exception, which is applied to all levels is based on precedence and therefore, does not need o apply. An example would include a judge handing down a verdict in his or her jurisdiction creating an exception to the employment-at-will-doctrine. The decision made by the judge would therefore become a binding on employers, which is independent or separate of the laws or statutes that was created by the legislative body. In conclusion of the employment-at-will doctrine, if the workers termination does not fall within the statutory or common law exception, the employment-at-will doctrine will default.
Recommendation and Implementation Firstly, many of the concerns and issues referenced above could have possible been eliminated if a whistleblowing policy had been implemented. Realizing and executing this policy within the workplace, allows for whistleblowers to exhibit a role of importance that could eliminate unethical or illegal behaviors within the workplace before any issues become too difficult to handle. When organizations continue to have employees that display a characteristic of being unethical, they position the organization to be at risk in a negative manner legally, financially, and publically.
The fact of the matter is that wrong doing occurs in many organizations, but workers at ALL levels should feel comfortable and confident that their work environment is not one of being hostile. Therefore, including a whistleblowing policy should be safe for the worker in knowing that if or when a matter is reported internally; any corrective action can be quickly executed thereby, causing workers to become more ethical. In addition, ongoing ethics training for workers at ALL levels in effort to enhance a moral environment or climate should be applied so that:
Objectives and strategic plans are met and the best way to ensure that they are met Leaders are “walking the walk and talking the talk” (setting examples for all) Workers will feel as though their communication and responsibility is of value to their place of work.
Finally, the assurance of the policy should be an image of the company and therefore, being upheld than just words on a piece of paper. The whistleblower should feel confident and safe that when an investigation is done, it will be conducted in an objective manner and investigated by one that has absolutely no influence on the outcome. This too will give a feeling that confidentiality is of value within the organization to the whistleblower. After careful review of the employee issues and concerns, the following recommendation has been made:
Firstly, the real boss in my opinion is the customers and especially the high profitable ones because they are the major source of buying. And if your high profitable consumers decide to take business to your competitors then you basically have fired yourself. Although, John decided to criticize the most important customer, it is best to terminate his position due to the fact that at that moment a competitive disadvantage had been created.
Jim and Ellen have some real legitimate grievances that need to be address by the company in effort to determine if other employees have the same concern and if so, developing ways to correct the issue. However, both Jim and Ellen have real concerns in reference to pay and therefore, it should be addressed. I believe that they both need to be coached and maybe even disciplined on the way of handling their concern but, I feel that they are both protected under the retaliation law and public policy.
In Bills cases, grounds for termination can be expected assuming he did not get permission first. The use of the company’s cellular in effort to start his business is considered theft. Misusing the company’s resource for personal business causes the business to lose time and money.
I’m afraid it is perfectly legal for an employer to monitor company computer usage while you are at work, you do not have the right without permission to do your private work on your company’s computer. Therefore, the accounting department need to be coached on the expectations of the company but also understand that they are not obligated to continue their employment with the organization if they feel disapprove of the key loggers.
I believe that Joe has the right to sue the company due to the fact that it was his personal email that had been reviewed. I believe that if Joe’s criticism had been done on the business email then corrective action must stand. In order for the business to prevent personal email usages, it should be clearly outlined in the employee handbook as well as explaining the extent of computers being monitored. Employers should make sure that workers clearly understand the policy.
The information provided by the secretary should be investigated thoroughly. If her claim is true, then she would be protected by the violation of public policy. The secretary cannot be terminated due to the fact that she declined to prepared false expense reports for her boss. However, the boss should and need to be investigated and terminated for his actions to eliminate a hostile work environment.
Anna exercised her legal right under public policy law reporting to jury duty. However, Anna’s boss may ask for proof of jury duty and unless the employee handbook state otherwise, the employer does not have to compensate Anna. Termination in this case would be illegal.
In Conclusion, understanding the employment-at-will doctrine and carefully executing the parameters of the doctrine can still leave the employer with sense of being uneasy and becoming apprehensive that an employee will attempt to sue. According to Wood and Karau, it is imprtant to respect employees during the process of which the termination is taking place because it will show the employee that their work was appreciated while they were working for the company (Wood & Karau, 2008, p. 521). This can help or assist in preventing legal actions when respect is given. According to Urhuogo, Giving employee’s reasons for termination may result in employees to be understanding of the situation (Urhuogo, 2010, p.33). However, in the end, every employers and workers must display a demeanor that is ethical and suitable for the company and themselves.
Courtney from Study Moose
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