Problem Solution Analysis Paper
Course Number MGT 623
Legal and Ethical Issues in Management
Dr. Dave Ibarra
Lauren M. Middleton
November 2nd, 2014
1. What does employment-at-will mean?
Employment at will essentially means that an employer can basically fire an employee for almost any reason, which includes no explainable reason at all, and employers are not legally guilty of any wrong for the discharge of employees under this policy. Halbert and Ingulli (2012) define employment-at-will as giving employers broad discretion to fire employees “for a good reason, bad reason, or no reason at all.” 2. In legal terms, why did Milton lose his case?
In legal terms, the reason that Milton lost his case is due to the fact that Maryland courts have recognized two reasons for exceptions to the use of the employment at will policy. "An individual cannot be fired for his or her refusal to violate any law or legal statute, and an individual cannot be terminated for faithfully exercising a specific legal right or duty” (Halbert & Ingulli, 2012). In essence, the court found that Milton was not asked, coerced, or ordered to violate any legal statute in the performance of his duties, and that there was no specific duty for Milton to report the activities of his organization to the authorities, therefore, his employer is not legally guilty of any wrong for the discharge of Milton, or for the facilitation of employment at will policy in this case. 3. The court here expresses concern that, if Dr. Milton were permitted to win, it would open a "Pandora's box," with "every corporate officer fired in the wake of a disagreement over an employer's business practices" a potential successful plaintiff. Do you agree or disagree? Why? I do not agree that if Dr. Milton were permitted to win, it would open a Pandora's box, with every corporate officer fired in the wake of a disagreement over an employer's business practices a potentially successful plaintiff. I disagree with this statement due to the fact that simply disagreeing with an employer's business practices would not make every discharged employee at potentially successful plaintiff, if this disagreement is not backed with evidence to prove that their employer's business practices were indeed illegal, that the discharged employee was discharged for a refusal to violate a law or legal statute, or that the employer was discharged for exercising a specific legal right or duty. 4. Take a look at Montana's "Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act" found on page 58. How do you believe Dr. Milton would have fared under this Act? Milton would have fared much better under Montana's wrongful discharge from employment act, due to the fact that this act contains stipulations and remedies that would be favorable to Dr. Milton's situation. This act prohibits employers from discharging employees in a retaliatory effort, due to the fact that an employee has either reported a violation of public policy or for the employee’s refusal to engage in activities that clearly are in violation of public policy. This act also includes compensation for wrongfully discharged employees in the form of lost wages and benefits, as well as punitive damages in some cases (Halbert & Ingulli, 2012). 5. Would the SOX law have protected Dr. Donn Milton? Why or Why not?
The Sox law deals more with ensuring corporate accountability in regards to financial statements, accounting, open disclosure for IRS auditing, and corporate official responsibility for the financial statements disclosed. This law would not have helped Milton's situation, due to the fact that Milton's case involved an employee's perceived duty to act under a given circumstance, but it was proven that Milton had no legal duty to take the actions they took in his situation. The Sox law makes it the legal duty of corporate officials to disclose pertinent financial information, and there are legal penalties for not adhering to this law. In addition, Milton's actions were not related to his employer's refusal to disclose pertinent financial information, but their refusal to report taxable income, which is the internal revenue's duty to uncover. 6. Public policy tort actions for wrongful discharge have been allowed in a number of different situations. Discuss each of these situations. In some instances the Sarbanes-Oxley act has been the basis for tort action for wrongful discharges in situations, but as mentioned earlier, the situation must involve evidence proving that corporate officials are hiding some of their financial information from being disclosed. And although employees have been discharged for whistle blowing, employees in this situation have been successful in civil suits in many cases. The First Amendment right to free speech has also been the basis for successful tort actions for wrongful discharge, due to the fact that many civil courts have decided that First Amendment rights supersede employment at will policy stipulations. Although there can be some infringement upon personal liberties by employers in order to protect their establishments, gross restrictions on employees 'First Amendment rights are not tolerable under any situation.
Halbert, T., & Ingulli, E. (2012). Law & ethics in the business environment (7th ed.) Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.