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HRM: Elora Jean & Co

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The Elora Jean & Co. owner has come to you asking for guidance on a few issues that were brought to her attention. With the rapidly growing workforce, an increasing number of employees have requested extended time off from work. The owner does not want to grant the time off because of its effect on productivity.

When asked for examples of the requests, he provides you with the following:

Employee #1 has been with Elora Jean & Co. for 13 months. She has requested time off to help care for her terminally ill mother-in-law. She is not sure how long she will need to be out of work, but it could be as long as three months.

Employee #2 has been with Elora Jean & Co. for 18 months. His wife just had a baby and he is asking to take 6 weeks off of work to help with the new responsibilities at home.

Employee #3 developed health problems since her start with Elora Jean & Co. 7 months ago. Her work attendance is unpredictable. She has exhausted all of her sick days, and advised her supervisor that her doctor is requiring her to remain at home for a period of 6 weeks.

As the HR consultant, you have many questions and you would like to gather all of the necessary information before providing additional guidance or recommendations. You are aware of the company's legal limitations and discretions, such as the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The owner has also advised you that the company has no formal "leave policy" for any type of employee absence, other than seven paid sick days per year.

As a group, engage in a discussion on the small group discussion board, focusing on the following questions:

Considering the Elora Jean & Co. work environment and history (124 employees, in business for 18 months, mix of union/non-union), is the company currently exposed to any legal risk by not having a defined leave policy in place? If so, what are the risks and the penalties for violation?

Of the three employee cases described, discuss whether each one would qualify for FMLA leave. Why or why not?
For employees who do not qualify under FMLA, what legal discretions would you recommend to the company? Explain other employee "leave" options for the company without compromising the company's financial objectives?

As a second step of this group assignment, you must develop a sample Leave Policy to be presented to the company owner. Be sure the policy covers the key components of a comprehensive leave policy, including requirements for eligibility, leave benefits provided, job restoration, pay, and benefits status while on leave. On a cover page of the policy, outline a summary of your recommendations to the company owner, advising him of the value to Elora Jean & Co. in implementing this policy.

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Considering the Elora Jean & Co. work environment and history (124 employees, in business for 18 months, mix of union/non-union), is the company currently exposed to any legal risk by not having a defined leave policy in place? If so, what are the risks and the penalties for violation?

Since the company does not have a well defined leave policy in place the company can face legal challenges from several quarters. First, the company can be held legally liable for violation of specific statutes. For example, it can be held liable for the violation of the Family Medical Leave Act, the company will be held liable according to the provisions of the Family Medical Leave Act. Under 29 CFR 825.104 Elora Jean & Co is an employer that is covered under the Family Medical Leave Act, the reason is that it employs more than 50 employees for more than 20 workweeks.

If Elora Jean & Co violates the provisions of the Family Medical Leave Act it would be declared to be an unlawful act. There can be two forms of penalties that can take place for the violation of the Family Medical Leave Act. Complaints can be made to The Wage and Hour Division and it will investigate the complaints made. The Division will try to resolve the matter related to violations. If these violations cannot be resolved, the US Department of Labor may bring action in court to compel compliance.

In addition, individual employees may bring private civil action against the employer for violations. Further, as some of the employees are unionized, they may file complaints with the union and the union will take action against Elora Jean & Co.

Of the three employee cases described, discuss ...

Solution Summary

HRM problems relating to Elora Jean & Co are discussed in this posting.

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Current Legal Issues in Human Resource Management: Elora Jean & Co.


Elora Jean and Co., based in central Indiana, is a family-run manufacturing business. The company manufactures grain products for the food industry. Currently, the organization consists of a production facility, which currently has 110 unionized production employees, and two administration offices, which have 14 non-union employees. Elora Jean and Co. is in the process of opening a production facility in Malaysia, which will have 20 non-union employees.

Elora Jean and Co. has been operating as a sole-proprietorship for 18 months. At the start-up phase, the company owner did not forecast such an exponential increase in demand for her product. Consequently, she did not apply for unemployment insurance, purchase a general liability insurance policy, or obtain a worker's compensation policy because she planned to use her own family members to operate the business. Over the last 13 months the company's organization has grown due, in part, to its aggressive hiring strategy and need to manage production demands. In spite of the company's rapid growth, the company does not have a dedicated human resources department. Instead, the company's owner delegated human resource administration duties to the operations manager (OM). Consequently, the OM's knowledge of human resource policy, practice, and regulation is very limited. As the company continues to expand its operation, the owner detected an increase in employee grievance cases. The owner foresees, due to the lack of human resource administration experience, certain legal ramifications of an under-managed workforce.

You are a contracted strategic human resource consultant for Elora Jean and Co. Your role, over the next five weeks, is to ensure the company's HR policies and processes are in compliance with local labor, state labor, and federal labor statutes.

The critical areas, in which you intend to focus, will include EEO staffing laws, anti-discriminatory hiring practices, immigration bills, foreign worker provisions, and affirmative action regulations. You will be asked to review labor laws and relevant cases, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. You are also being asked to communicate labor and employment litigation risks and solutions to the owner.

The production facility, with its union representation, will present additional challenges. You have had experience dealing with the National Labor Relations Board in the past, and you are focused on keeping Elora Jean and Co. clear of investigations and hearings with the NLRB. Therefore, you plan to review and identify management practices to minimize the risk of unfair labor practice charges. A comprehensive review of grievance procedures, and labor relations practices within the context of union representation, will be on your list of priorities.

Additionally, the production facility presents an increased risk for safety accidents. The owner asks you to initiate a safety audit to ensure that Elora Jean and Co. is compliant with Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) laws. A review of Elora Jean and Co.'s safety records will be recommended to determine the company's legal liabilities and limitations regarding its drug-free workplace policy.

With the Malaysian production facility on the horizon, there will be international HR policies and regulations to consider. Elora Jean and Co. needs you to determine U.S. and International HR laws that might apply to the off-shore operation, as well as the employer's responsibilities to U.S. employees and non-U.S. employees working abroad.

Elora Jean and Co.'s HR issues will provide a challenging five-week project for the human resource professional. The success of Elora Jean and Co. depends upon your in-depth knowledge of U.S. labor laws, general knowledge of HR regulations as they apply to a global workforce, and your HR policy guidance to keep the company within its legal boundaries of human resource management. With this in mind, you are preparing yourself to help Elora Jean and Co. solve its labor and employment law issues

Task: As the HR legal consultant working with Elora Jean & Co., you have identified several needs with regard to the hiring process. You believe that improving workplace diversity would regulate the cultural dynamics of the organization and stem any legal issues of cultural under-representation.

Beyond a solid EEO policy to ensure the hiring process is free of discrimination, the owner has asked for your thoughts on implementing an affirmative action policy.

Questions to Discuss:
Based on your research and experience, do you recommend an affirmative action policy be implemented? If so, what would it include and what value will it bring to Elora Jean & Co. with regard to helping the company remain competitive?

If you do not feel an affirmative action policy is appropriate for Elora Jean & Co., what are the issues? What would you recommend, instead, to maximize the diversity of Elora Jean & Co.'s workforce?

Describe an EEO and affirmative action strategy that would cover employees at the Malaysian facility? What specific laws and/or cases might apply to EEO and affirmative action enforcement in an off-shore business?

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