During the nineteenth century a legal rule was developed giving employer’s unfettered power to “dismiss their employees at will for good cause, for no cause or for cause morally wrong, without being thereby guilty of a legal wrong. ” (Halbert, 2012, p. 49). This legal rule is commonly known as Employment-At-Will and ultimately the employer has the rights to sever the employer-employee relationship at any given time for any given reason and whether or not the employee thinks wrongful separation.
It is a topic that is debated for many years and in today’s current economy and unemployment rate steadily increasing “Employment-at-will” is a doctrine that is being used more frequently as employers experience their present day lows.
Employers however have to keep in mind the other that in 1960, federal civil rights laws created remedies against employers who fire workers because of their race, national origin, color, religion, sex, age, or disability (Halbert, 2012, p. 9). Later, in 1970s and 1980s, federal and state statutes include protection from retaliation for employees who report violations of environmental or workplace safety laws and those individuals are commonly known as “whistleblowers”.
In essence, whistle blowers are typically long term, highly loyal employees who feel strongly that their company should do the right thing, because in the wave of scandal with major firms such as Enron and World.
Com; Congress enacted corporate fraud reform legislation which provides provisions to protect those who report financial misconduct in publicly traded companies. This law is known as Sarbanes-Oxey, or SOX (Halbert, 2012, p. 50). In this assignment the scenario begins as a manager and supervisor of an accounting department, discuss the following issues related to the employment-at-will doctrine and liability of an employer based on actions and responses to the employee’s behavior and actions.
Jennifer, a recent graduate, has recently been hired by your accounting firm out of college. Upon being hired, she engages in a number of different behaviors that need your attention. Describe what steps you would take to address the following scenario involving skills, competence, and abilities: •The employee seems to be unable to learn the computer applications that are basic to her job responsibilities, but, consistently “tells” her boss that she is “a good worker and a genius” and that he does not “appreciate her”.
Even after a few months of training and support, she is unable to use the computer tools to be productive and efficient in completing the required tasks. Employers must first determine was this employee given adequate training, support and feedback while employed. However, feedback can include a performance management plan (PMP) where it measures an employee’s strengths, weaknesses, to the goals and expectations of the company and expectations of the position.
If the action plan of re-training, possibly one on one coaching/mentoring are options for this employee and the employee is still not able to grasp the scope of her job duties; it may be a situation where in this scenario the employer can practice employment at will especially after exhausting all methods to help this employee gain as much knowledge that was assumed she was bringing to the company, the employer now may relinquish the employer-employee relationship for good, bad or for no cause at all.
Further, the employer does not hold any legal liability as long as no contract was signed upon employment, however if an employee is unable to perform her job duties, the employer does not have much choice than to end employment. Describe what steps you would take to address the following scenario involving management, behavior, and performance: •In this scenario, an employee tends to burst into a rage when criticized and is frequently late to work as noticed by her boss and other staff members.
When her boss attempts to address her behavioral issues and the company late policy, the employee’s response is that she “knows her rights and what to do” if she is wrongfully discharged. She also says she took a business law class in undergrad that taught her “everything she needs to know about exceptions to the employment-at-will doctrine and wrongful discharge in violation of public policy”.
Clearly, if this employee has a tendency to have outbursts of rage when criticized this should always have a second party as a witness, along with proper documentation of all verbal reprimands, written warnings reprimands regarding the company’s late policy. We all know that when an employee is considering termination, you need to follow a defined process for best results (Kermit, 2012).
There may be a valid reason for her tardiness, however, if the said employee stated she took business law classes in her undergraduate studies she should know full well employment at will outweighs wrongful termination if she was constantly late, violating company policy and warned her job could be in jeopardy, the employer can still choose to terminate employment.
Maybe instead of the employee having outbursts, have her to explain the specific reasons for being late and these emotional outbursts because workplace hostility is not tolerated. Maybe the employer can offer her the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which is a support services program to help balance work and life, maybe she has child care issues or lives in a household with only one vehicle, possibly advising her to seek employment within the company with a more flexible schedule.
At any rate, this employee has been warned, given support and the problem still remains, the employer must then choose to use Employment At Will doctrine to separate the employee from employment but just as an employer can separate the employee from employment, so can an employee separate themselves from the employer as well; as the definition remains the same “employment at will”. Describe what steps you would take to address the following scenario involving labor and laws: •The employee takes a day off from work, without management consent, for her religious holiday observance that falls on a day that is during “tax season”.
The day off occurred during an incredibly busy period for the company during which the employer had notified all employees they were not allowed to take off without prior management approval. Also, there is no labor union for accountants. However, she begins talking to her co-workers during lunch breaks and sometimes during regular work hours, encouraging them to organize and form a union to “protect ourselves”. Based upon the federal civil rights laws enacted in the 1960s, there are legal liabilities for dismissal of an employee based on race, national origin, color, religion, sex, age or disability (Halbert, 2012, p. 9). However, an employee cannot take it upon themselves to grant any day off, whether or not they have acquired leave to use for the day out of work. This could be a policy violation and considered a no call any show for work because you decided to take an authorized day off. Management has already expressed “all hands on deck” for their busiest season and discouraged employees from taking any days off during this time. However, if prior notification had been communicated to the employer of her religious holiday observance, her day off may have been approved.
However, she clearly not just violated a policy but disturbed the flow of production and this can cause separation from employment as well but this employee should have sought other alternatives than to authorize her own day off. Also, the employer would need to be very careful before considering termination, due to her attempts to form unions; as early adjustments to the employment –at-will doctrine was made as workers fought for the right to organize and form unions. The U. S.
Supreme Court declared that an employer could not use Employment –At – Will to intimidate or coerce its employee with respect to their self -organization; which means an employee cannot be terminated as punishment for attempting to organize a union (Halbert, 2012, p. 49). This employee may have a chance to remain employed in this scenario due to the “religious holiday observance” issue, however should be reprimanded for no call no show, written up and added to her employee file so there is proper documentation if she decides to authorize her next day off as discipline action to termination can occur.
Also, if the employer can also practice “The Good Faith” covenant, which can be interpreted in different ways meaning that termination must be for cause to meaning that termination cannot be made in bad faith or with malice intended (Muhl, 2001) Describe what steps you would take to address the following scenario involving policies and procedure. •The employee’s supervisor consistently asks her out on dates; the employee initially refuses to go out on a date with her supervisor. The employee later discusses the issue with her girlfriend who encourages her to accept his offers.
During her new employee orientation, the employee was informed of the company policy which prevented employees from dating their supervisor and was given an employee handbook with the written policy. The employee and her supervisor later begin having a consensual relationship. Often times, employers have to make their employees constantly aware of certain policies and procedures within the workplace. They will have prepared documents as reminders of these internal policies involving securities, workplace violence, and sexual harassment just to name a few.
These documents are required to be read and sign as acknowledgement that you fully understand and will be incompliance. In many companies fraternizing is not allowed within the workplace this information should have been advised by written policy in the company’s handbook and or during employee orientation but it is very important this type of relationship be deterred as it could result in sexual harassment case and lawsuits can be formulated. Workplace relationships are risky as they can cause unnecessary conflict and affect not only the work environment but jeopardize one’s areer. At any rate, ethics plays an important role in this scenario and must be considered before entering into any type of workplace relationship.