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THE DEPARTMENT STORE DILEMMA

THE DEPARTMENT STORE DILEMMA

"This is a tough decision," said Stan Wheatley, store manager and vice-president of Bassfield Department Store. Bassfield, a large urban retailer with 350 employees, is a family-owned business that has operated in Levittston for over 30 years. Wheatley believes strongly in delegating authority to lower levels of management.

However, Adele Stafford, manager of the women's sportswear department, has recently referred a problem to him.

Six weeks ago, Mary-Alice Brooks, aged 23, was hired as a temporary employee. She has an outstanding personality and immediately made friends with the senior workers in the department, as well as with other salespersons and clerks in the store. Moreover, she is an exceptional salesperson who relates well to customers. In fact, many had gone out of their way to tell Adele Stafford how much they enjoyed dealing with Mary-Alice.

After Mary-Alice's two-week temporary period, her manager requested that she be hired on a full-time basis; Mary-Alice's husband has recently undergone major surgery, so Mary-Alice was glad to have full-time work.
Four days ago, Bill Chavez, personnel manager of the store, realized that Mary-Alice had not taken the medical exam required of all full-time employees. When Mary-Alice took the exam that afternoon, she didn't pass it due of an existing heart condition. Because of restrictions in the company's medical insurance program, she could not be hired.
Chavez told Stafford that Mary-Alice would have to be terminated.

Stafford, women's sportswear manager, argues strongly that an exception be made in Mary-Alice's case. Several employees have also told the personnel manager that it is unfair to Mary-Alice to release her now, since it was his own oversight. Also, they argue that the company should be willing to help people in situations such Mary-Alice's, since they have an EEOC program and have even hired some disabled employees in the past.

But Chavez, the personnel manager, says that Mary-Alice must go. The rule is that all permanent employees must pass the physical, and Mary-Alice has not. Stafford appealed the decision to Wheatley, the store manager, who said he would let her know something the next day. As he ponders a way out of the dilemma, Wheatley is aware of the results of a survey on his desk; 42% of the employees say that they would consider joining a union if one attempted to organize the store.

Discussion Questions:
1. What are the key issues in the case?
2. Develop several realistic alternatives for Wheatley to consider.
3. What decision do you recommend that Wheatley make?

Solution Preview

Discussion Questions:
1. What are the key issues in the case?
2. Develop several realistic alternatives for Wheatley to consider.
3. What decision do you recommend that Wheatley make?

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1. What are the key issues in the case:

? Bassfield is family owned and has a long-standing reputation.
? Stan Wheatley believes in delegating authority.
? Mary-Alice is a good worker and needs the full time employment.
? Mary-Alice has a pre-existing medical condition that disqualifies her for full-time employment.
? Mary-Alice was hired without taking the medical exam that would have revealed the ...

Solution Summary

Brief discussion about personnel options in the given situation.

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