Employment at Will

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Employment-at-Will

Eric Tompkins

Prof. James Vricos

LEG500 - Law, Ethics, and Corp. Governance

24 January 2013

Strayer University

As a manager and supervisor of an accounting division, examine the following issues in

relation to the employment-at-will doctrine and responsibility of an employer based on actions

and responses to the employee’s conduct 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.

1. Describe what steps you would take to address the following scenario involving skills,

competence, and abilities:

In the first scenario, the employee consistently demonstrates the lack of ability to learn

the computer applications which are fundamental to her job responsibilities. However, she insists

that she is “a good worker and a genius” and argues that her boss does not “appreciate her”.

It may also be reasonable to assume, and perhaps more equitable, that Jennifer is not learning

the needed fundamentals within an established time frame. Despite months of training and

support, she remains unable to use the computer applications to be productive and efficiently

complete the required tasks. According to the employment-at-will doctrine, the company for

which Jennifer works, has the option to legally terminate her employment ("The at-will

presumption," 2012). The company can also legally release her even if they stated that she was

not performing their job successfully. At-will also means that an employer can change the terms

of the employment relationship with no notice and no concerns. To illustrate, an employer can

modify wages, terminate benefits, or reduce paid time off. In its pure form, the U.S. at-will rule

leaves employees defenseless to random and sudden dismissal, a limited or on-call work

schedule depending on the employer’s needs, and unannounced cuts in pay and benefits ("The at-

will presumption," 2012). Proper and consistent documentation is very important when an

employee falls short of performing their job as initially agreed upon. It is essential that

supervisors document instances when performance is below the company standard and ensure

that these instances are made aware to the employee so that he or she can make necessary

adjustments and corrections. Verbal notices, as well as written warnings or counseling with both

the employee and supervisor signatures are required documentation to demonstrate grounds for

dismissal. Given the nature of her position, there is potential to create significant problems for

her employer as well as the company’s clients. Because she has received college education as

well as company - provided training and support, it is reasonable to expect her to perform her job

effectively and satisfactorily. Pertinent notes from her interview as well as any information tied

to the training she received must be contained within her employee file for future reference, if it

becomes needed. Furthermore, proper skills and aptitude testing prior to hiring her may have

provided ways to identify potential problem areas and the company could have better trained her

or decided that it would not be in their best interest to hire her based on insufficient aptitude

scores.

2. Describe what steps you would take to address the following scenario involving

management, behavior, and performance:

In this scenario, the employee evidences her tendency to burst into anger or rage when

criticized and is often late to work as observed by her boss and colleagues. When her

boss attempts to address her behavioral concerns and the company late policy, the employee

responds by citing her rights and what to do if she is unjustly discharged. She also mentions

having taken a college...
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