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Ethical obligations and ADR

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1.John Harrison is the owner of Harrison Enterprises, Inc., a small metal fabrication shop located in Poughkeepsie, New York. Andrew Jameson, an employee of Harrison Enterprises, has approached John with a request. Andrew is the proud parent of a newborn son, and he would like to take the next two (2) weeks off from work in order to "bond" with his new child. John knows that Andrew does not have any accrued vacation time (shortly before his son was born, Andrew had taken a final "two-person family" trip to Florida with his wife, Sara). He also knows that Harrison Enterprises is not legally required to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), since the company only has seventeen (17) employees (FMLA mandates that businesses employing more than fifty people provide their workers with up to twelve weeks' unpaid leave every year for a host of specified reasons, including the birth of a child). John wonders whether his company has an ethical obligation to comply with the "spirit" of the Family and Medical Leave Act, even though he does not have a technical, legal obligation of compliance. Advise John whether his company has such an ethical obligation. Should John Harrison allow Andrew Jameson to take his requested two (2) weeks of leave from work?
2.John Wilson, owner of Wilson Construction Company, and Andrew Carrigan, owner of Carrigan Brick and Masonry, Inc., are at odds regarding a construction contract between the two companies. Wilson claims that Carrigan breached the contract due to non-performance of certain masonry work; Carrigan defends on the basis that Wilson did not permit him adequate access to the work site in order to complete the work by the designated contract deadline. Wilson claims liquidated damages as a result of the breach; the contract stipulates that upon breach, the non-breaching party is entitled to $1,000 in damages for every day the work is not performed beyond the contract deadline. Wilson is considering mediation or arbitration as an alternative to civil litigation, but he is concerned that "justice may not be served" if he submits to a method of alternative dispute resolution. Are his concerns justified? Is justice better guaranteed if Wilson and Carrigan litigate their case? Is mediation or arbitration actually preferable to civil litigation? Regardless of what disputing parties prefer, should court systems require that plaintiffs and defendants submit to arbitration or meditation before being entitled to their "day in court?"

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1. The owner is under no ethical, legal, or other obligation to honor the request, unless certain other details apply. If business is slow and the company can afford for Jameson to be off, then there might be a potential ethical obligation. It would also save some costs of payroll and other costs to not have him come to work. However, if the company mission, vision, or values statement does include language, which would make Jameson think the company would approve of his leave, then there might be ethical considerations for Harrison. If any of the statements include language that leads one to believe family values, family balance, or family support is a primary focus of the company, then the company owner does have at least some ethical obligation to try to work out a leave schedule that helps both the company and its core values along with ...

Solution Summary

Cases presented on ethical obligations toward employees, and if ADR is acceptable resolution legally for disputes.

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