An organization has the right to fire an employee at-will. If the employee is not performing or is not providing a benefit to the organization, the organization may decide to terminate the employee. However, if documentation is provided at the time of hire stating the employee is not an at-will employee or the employee will receive a notice before termination occurs, then it can become a legal matter. In legal case 1, Pat is hired for a position that is located in another city and is required to move his family and start a new life.
After Pat worked for the organization for only three months, he was given a termination notice. However, he was not provided with any warnings are reasoning. “Generally, agency and employment contracts that do not specify a definite time for their termination can be terminated at will by either the principal or the agent, without liability to the other party” (Cheeseman, 2010). A contract was provided to Pat when he started with NewCorp. He signed a document that stated if he was not performing well or his performance was unsatisfactory he would be notified and placed on a corrective action plan.
This would help him understand what he is doing wrong and how he can improve to keep his job. When Pat was given notice of termination, he was not provided with a reason and was not put on the corrective action plan. This allows Pat to sue NewCorp for not abiding to the contract that was signed by both parties. Pat also has the right to sue for wrongful termination. In this legal case, NewCorp should approach Pat with an alternative dispute resolution. The ADR that should be used for this situation should be an arbitrator or work out a settlement.
To avoid these types of liabilities, NewCorp should ensure their performance policies and fire at-will information is stated in their contracts and their employees are aware of the policies. Legal Encounter 2 The situation involving Sam and Paula in presents NewCorp with several liability issues. Although the events that transpired appear to be related to their failed relationship, there are two separate issues. The company may be able to handle these issues in-house without consulting an attorney at this time.
Paula claims Sam continued to pursue her after she ended the relationship, he demonstrated unwelcome behavior, said her work was suffering, and stopped a transfer request (University of Phoenix, 2012). No disciplinary action was taken for work performance, only an observation made by Sam to Paula; thus adding an amount of validity to her claim. The courts determine hostile work environment, in part, if actions interfere with work performance (Cheeseman, 2010).
If a claim were filed, there is an appearance that NewCorp did nothing to stop a hostile work environment based on her failed transfer request. In two separate court cases, the Supreme Court held an affirmative defense against liability may be raised by employers if they can prove the company exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct the behavior and the complainant did not take advantage of the preventative and corrective opportunities provided (Cheeseman, 2010).
Since the situation has not reached the point of litigation, an immediate investigation into the claim for harassment should be launched, and either Paula or Sam should be transferred to a different department. Regardless of the outcome, the resolution to this situation lies in approving the transfer request. Although there is a valid reasoning in denying the request for transfer based on the potential harm to a fetus, it presents a possible for a claim for sex discrimination. NewCorp may no be able to use a bona fide occupational qualification in this case.
In the Supreme Court case, International Union, etal v. Johnson Controls, Inc. , involving a fetal protection policy and bona fide occupational qualification, the Court ruled against the employer and said it was sex discrimination because “decisions about the welfare of future children must be left to the parents who conceive, bear, support, and raise them rather than to the employers who hire those parents” (Cheeseman, 2010, p. 519). With that in mind, Paula’s transfer should be reconsidered on the basis of merit and employment history.
Any company policy written that excludes a specific class of employee should be pulled and reviewed for liability. Legal Encounter 3 There are two types of liability that is faced by NewCorp. The first liability arises from NewCorp’s noncomplyance with the requirements of The Occupational Safety and Health Act. NewCorp must comply with the regulations and the safety and health standards promulgated by OSHA. It is the general duty of the employer to provide a workplace to Paul that is free from serious hazards. In case of Paul, NewCorp has failed to provide such a workplace.
NewCorp was unable to make the workspace safe for Paul due to the buildings infrastructure. If Paul makes a complaint to OSHA, OSHA will make workplace inspections and investigations into violations. The second liability that Paul is likely to get is from the state worker’s compensation law. Since Paul feels he became claustrophobic because of working in such confined spaces he could be entitled to Workman’s Compensation. In the state of Vermont the benefits that NewCorp will have to pay Paul are Medical benefits, wage replacement benefits, permanency benefits, and vocational rehabilitation.
This benefit will be availed from VT Department of Labor Workers’ Compensation Division. Paul can sue NewCorp under the tort law and claim damages from NewCorp. The legal principle is that of unintentional tort of negligence. (Cheeseman 2010) In this case the harmful working conditions had been brought to the notice of NewCorp but its safety officer had not recommended any action. NewCorp owed to Paul a duty of care not to make him work in conditions that could be injurious to him. Paul can force a suit of unintentional tort and strict liability and get punitive damages against NewCorp.
Cheeseman, H. (2010). Business Law: Legal Environment, Online Commerce, Business Ethics, and International Issues (7th ed.). Retrieved March 20, 2012 from: Prentice Hall, p. 557
Cheeseman, H. (2010). Business Law: Legal Environment, Online Commerce, Business Ethics, and International Issues (7th ed.). Retrieved March 23, 2012 from: Prentice Hall. P. 468 University of Phoenix. (2012). NewCorp Legal Scenarios. Retrieved from the University of Phoenix Student Website for Course LAW/531.