Stephen D. Mellott
January 28, 2013
Marlene Wilhite, Esq.
NewCorp Legal Scenarios
Companies that have employees are continually challenged with legal encounters involving employee performance, termination, harassment, and employee working environments. In this paper, I will review three legal encounters that involve NewCorp, which is my employer. I will address key questions and provide an assessment for each scenario to my supervisor for review and further action. Legal Encounter 1
Pat is hired as a property manager in Vermont supervising 51 employees and is experienced in dealing with tenants who leased commercial space. Pat relocated his family 300 miles for this job, bought a home, and his wife quit her job to seek employment in Vermont. After working for NewCorp for three months, the company informed Pat that things were not working out and that he would be discharged with 30 days severance pay. Pat is surprised because the employee manual states that if an employee is not performing, the employee will be notified and put on a corrective action plan. If performance does not improve per the plan, then termination follows. Pat was not given any warning before termination. Pat was hired as an at-will employee and acknowledges this fact. Pat states that senior management had been unfriendly because he had been vocal at a local school board meeting when his views on an issue were not popular. Even though no one at the meeting identified Pat as a NewCorp employee, Pat believes that this contributed to the decision to discharge him. What liabilities and rights do NewCorp and pat have in this situation? Pat’s case could present some liability to NewCorp for not following documented performance and correction action plan procedure documented in the employee manual. Pat is an at-will employee which, according to Kaiser (2005), is an employee that “can be terminated at any time and for any reason, or for no reason at all, with or without notice”. Pat could have a case for unjust termination because of the steps outlined for the termination process in the employee manual if performance is not acceptable. In addition, Pat believes that the opinion he expressed at the school board meeting contributed to his dismissal. This could be seen as the company retaliating against Pat, which is an act of discrimination according to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The provision in the act expressly prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee (Cheeseman, 2010). However, Pat indicated that no one at the meeting identified Pat as a NewCorp employee, so it is unlikely that Pat can link the behavior of management following the school board meeting to his dismissal without substantial proof. In this case, Pat did not file a charge against the company. If Pat was dismissed for the words at the school board meeting, the act could be viewed as discrimination and retaliation in a court of law if Pat could prove his dismissal was linked to his comments. The fact that Pat relocated his family and his wife quit her job to move probably has no bearing on this case. If no documentation exists concerning Pat’s performance and the company had no proof that Pat was not discriminated against for the comments he made at the school board meeting, my recommendation would be to both reinstate Pat and clearly document performance if the desire is to terminate, or seek mediation for a resolution. Legal Encounter 2
Sam is a supervisor of electric manufacturing for automotive under-dash wiring harnesses at NewCorp. The department employees about 100 men and women who assemble the wire harnesses sent to the assembly plant for installation. Sam is in a relationship with Paula, who is one of his employees. Paula later ended the relationship and Sam began to exhibit unwelcome behaviors toward Paula, even though she told Sam to stop. Sam suggests that Paula’s work might be suffering...