Law, Ethics, and Corporate Governance
Professor Joyce Weddle
April 21st, 2013
Jennifer is a recent college graduate who has been hired by an accounting firm. In the short time she has been employed with the firm she has discovered a number of behaviors she feels could be inappropriate regarding the employment-at-will doctrine as well as some liabilities with the employer. She has brought this up only because she feels obligated to report the behaviors’ in which she has witnessed and wants to ensure she won’t be held liable for not informing the management team (LEG 500 - Law, Ethics, and Corporate Governance, 2012). Jennifer identified four categories of questionable behavior which are 1) skills, competence and abilities, 2) management, behavior, and performance, 3) labor laws, and 4) policies and procedures. The each of the four categories mentioned above will be discussed in how they apply to the Employment-At-Will Doctrine as well as the liability of the employer. Skills, Competence, and Abilities
In the first scenario, the employee isn’t able to learn the necessary computer applications for the job in which she was hired even after a few months of training and support. When the supervisor tries to find out what the problem is, the employee consistently tells her boss that she is “a good worker and a genius” and she goes on to say that “he does not “appreciate her” (LEG 500 - Law, Ethics, and Corporate Governance, 2012). A legal and binding doctrine known as the Employment-At-Will Doctrine gives the company grounds to terminate this employee. The Employment-At-Will Doctrine allows companies a broad spectrum to terminate employees “for a good reason, bad reason, or no reason at all” (Halbert, T., & Ingulli, E., p46, 2012). The same doctrine provides the employee the freedom to leave the job without notice, for any reason, good or bad. The employee doesn’t have to have a reason at all to leave the position in which they were hired for, they can just leave under the same doctrine. We could even change the scenario slightly in stating this particular employee could actually be doing a good job or maybe the employee could argue they were doing no better or worse than other people who had the same job responsibilities therefore resulting in a reasonable person coming to the conclusion the supervisor or management was picking on that particular employee but even considering those sight changes to the scenario, the company would still be in their rights to terminate the employee under the Employment-At-Will Doctrine (Zins, 2012). The issue at hand here is the employee in question is not performing in the way the company had hoped and there has been sufficient time provided in the employer’s mind for the individual to learn and become proficient in the necessary tasks. Management, Behavior and Performance
In this particular situation the employee occasionally burst into a rage when criticized or questioned concerning the behavior of frequent tardiness. When her boss and other staff members identify this behavior and verify it’s a regular occurrence they attempt to address the issue and remind her of the company’s late policy. The employee’s response is that she “knows her rights and what to do” if she is wrongfully discharged. She also goes on to say she “took a business law class in undergrad school and it taught her everything she needed to know about exceptions to the employment-at-will doctrine and wrongful discharge in violation of public policy” (LEG 500 - Law, Ethics, and Corporate Governance, 2012). In this scenario it almost seems like the employee was trying to belittle her supervisors or threaten them to not pursue the tardiness issue. It’s believed by this author, she was trying to draw attention away from the inappropriate behavior of being late which is what preempted the discussion in...