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Judging Employee Relations

1. A fifty-three director of an assisted living facility was terminated. Top managers regularly made statements such as Silver Oaks should be a "youth-oriented company," there was "no room for dead wood," Silver Oak was a "young company" that "enjoys hiring energetic people," the company was "missing the boat by not hiring more younger, vibrant people," and that employees "should start looking over applications better and try to consider hiring younger people." On several occasions, the director was pressed to discipline and terminate older employees, which she refused to do. Following her refusal, she was disciplined and placed on indefinite probation for allegedly admitting a patient without permission and terminating an employee without having another administrator present. However, the director claims she did receive permission to admit the patient and that the administrator who would have been present for the termination told her that she did not want to attend. The director was eventually terminated. She had been on an approved medical leave for several weeks. Her supervisor told her that he wanted her to call in everyday while she was on medical leave. She did not do that. She was initially told that she was terminated for failing to call in each day. But the list of reasons for termination was subsequently expanded, with different administrators citing different reasons. The terminated director sued. What should the court decide? Why?

Assume you are the judge in this case, what decision would you reach? Why?

2. A female an attorney was an associate at a law firm. Soon after she began working at the firm, the managing partner learned that she had a young child. The partner said he was because she had not said anything about the child when she was interviewed. The attorney believed that the partner started treating her worse than he treated male associates, using very harsh language toward her, talking about "the commitment differential between men and women, " and tell her a story about how incredulous he was when a female partner who had been on maternity leave asked about achieving partnership. Fearing discrimination against women with children, the attorney raised her concerns with a number of people in the firm, including partners in another office of the firm. When it got back to the partners in her office, they were incensed that had gone outside the office to complain. Partners talked about how the attorney had "caused a problem for" and "embarrassed" the office by complaining to another office. Later that year discussion occurred about what to do regarding the attorney's "situation." A decision was made to withhold the attorney's annual pay increase pending the results of her performance evaluations. When a number of the evaluations came back negative, the attorney was terminated. All of the negative evaluations were from partners in her own office, while partners from another office gave her positive reviews. She sued. What should the court decide? Why?

Assume you are the judge in this case, would you decide in favour of the plaintiff? Why or why not?

Solution Preview

1. To analyze this case, youmust first assess the laws that forbid age discrimination in the workplace. This requires understanding of the fact that age discrimination is banned in every aspect of employment, which includes hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment. A person cannot be harassed at work, which appears to be the case in this scenario, because of their age. Offensive remarks such as "no room for dead wood, in regard to an employee's age is discriminatory and serious when frequently done as in this scenario. This created a hostile and offensive work environment for the employee as well as apparently resulted in an adverse employment decision because the 53 year old woman was eventually fired. This action appears to represent a scenario wherein the woman was fired for reasons not based on a reasonable factor other than age, although, (your) scenario did mention two occurrences that may provide leverage for the company. "Her supervisor told her that he wanted her to call in everyday while she was on medical leave. She did not do that" according the article, and she was pressed to discipline and terminate older employees, which she refused to do. In regard to the last request, this can be construed as another form of harassment as the company wanted her to only discipline and terminate older employees, which is another form of age-discrimination.
Because of negative trends in industries such as deregulation, outsourcing, union-busting, etc., employers ...

Solution Summary

This response looks at employee relations in the perspective of a judge and possible rulings.

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