Law, Ethics, and Corporate Governance (LEG 500)
Professor Augustine Weekley
July 21th, 2012
Traditionally, companies in the United States have possessed the right to terminate their employees at will for any reason, be it good or bad. The Employment-At-Will doctrine encompasses all employees who are not safeguarded by express employment contracts that state that they may be discharged only for good cause. "Good cause" constraints are typically a part of collective bargaining agreements negotiated by employee unions; nonunion workers rarely have this form of protection. The Employment-At-Will doctrine also does not apply to contracts for a specified term, such as an employment contract that contemplates the employee providing service for an expressly designated number of years.
In this assignment, my role as a manager/supervisor of the accounting department of a major accounting firm will be tested based on the actions of Jennifer, one of my employees and a recent graduate of college-working in her first official post-graduation occupation. Upon her approval of employment with the company, Jennifer finds herself in a number of different and unusual acts on the job that need my immediate attention-where effective courses of action are needed. The issues are related to the Employment-At-Will doctrine and the potential liability of the company, based on reactions of Jennifer’s behavior and actions.
Keywords: Employment-At-Will doctrine, civil rights, legal, job duties, liability
Step 1: Describe what steps you would take to address the following scenario involving skills, competence, and abilities
When hiring someone for a position, one of the most significant qualification the employer looks at is his or her skills, competence, and abilities to do the job. The employer mainly relies on the information provided by the potential employee to determine if the employee is qualified for the job. In this situation, where Jennifer has led the employer to believe that she is qualified while not being able to fulfill the simple requirements of the job, negatively affects the employer who could hire a more efficient and better employee. Also given this is an accounting firm, the firm has responsibilities to the customer and if Jennifer is doing tax papers for a customer who may now be affected by her lack of abilities, the firm may get into legal dilemmas.
The first step is always to train the employee. In this case where Jennifer was given training and support, I would ensure that the training support taken has been documented. Next, I would supply her with an official document asserting my issues of her incapability to complete her job tasks. If not completed and the ability to improve her performance in a given period of time is not reached, termination warning and review would be an order.
If Jennifer fails to improve her performance in the designated timeframe and presuming she is not able to act out on any non-related duties in the workplace, I would have to cease her employment with the company, based on the Employment-At-Will doctrine. Jennifer is compelled to provide factual information in regards to her abilities. As a result, she could potentially contest that I (along with the company) did not utilize “good faith and fair dealing” (Halbert and Ingulli, 2012). This specific judgment would not be grounds for further action in a court system for the reason that I was led to consider that Jennifer was a good fit for the position by stating that she is more that competent to perform her job duties. It is my responsibility as a member of management to look out for the pursuit of the company and the consumer market, and if I were to deliberately keep an employee on the job that are unable to carry out their tasks, then an ethical/legal issue...