Case Study : Kathryn Mcneil

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Introduction

The case of Kathryn Mc Neil deals with the issue of separation in the workplace regarding the nonperformance of a single mother whose work was suffering because of the tremendous additional burden of raising a child. The case was written in 1994 but in the intervening years significant decisions have been made by the law (in the US) protecting the rights of the single mother. The debate is no longer exclusively about professionalism versus corporate responsibility but the new phenomenon of a third gender in the workplace.

History

The primary figure in the case is Charles Foley, VP of a computer retailing firm Sayer Micro World and the case is to be analyzed through his perspective. Foley, together with his Director Lisa Walters, hired Kathryn McNeil a 37-year-old product manager to run the IBM division. McNeil has been unable to work as many hours as the other product managers due to her status as a single parent of a six-year-old boy. The company was recently acquired and the new management was demanding a quick turnaround resulting in all the employees working 13-14 hour days. Although McNeil appears to be doing her best to fulfill both her parental and professional responsibilities, her immediate supervisor insists that McNeil has not been able to complete her share of the work and Foley must decide whether or not to fire his employee.

Responses

The primary response of Foley was to delay his decision and hope it sorts itself out. He was faced with an ethical dilemma and was one of the few people in the company who could understand McNeil's struggle as he was married and had children of his own.

Walters believed in through professionalism or giving preference to the company over a personal life or the bottom line and she cared little about the work-family balance that is a growing issue in the already deteriorated family structures of today.

McNeil was a contentious employee who had proved herself in the past and had gotten...
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