Human Resource Management Labor and Employee Relations

Section One:
Suzanne, a receptionist, works for a luxury resort and spa that caters to the well-to-do and rich and famous. While on the computer one day during lunch break, Suzanne was searching GOOGLE for “Dude Ranch vacations” when she inadvertently accessed a pornographic website. Unfortunately, just as she was trying to click off the pornographic spam that was popping up on her computer, a long-standing client of motion picture fame walked by and saw the images on the screen. Appalled at what she saw, she complained to the owner. The owner immediately confronted Suzanne and fired her in front of the movie star. The Spa distributes a handbook that all employees are required to read, and then sign an acknowledgment of receipt. The handbook specifically states that all employees are employees-at-will. The handbook also states that the Spa reserves the right to terminate the employment of any employee who engages in conduct that negatively affects the spa’s five-star reputation regardless whether the conduct occurs on or off the spa premises, or during company or personal time.


Suzanne believes that she has been treated unfairly and should not have been fired for a mistake after five years of service. Is the termination legally enforceable? Explain.


The handbook does not state that all employees are ‘employees-at-will’, but rather provides that employees will be disciplined in accordance with the standards of just cause. A four-year female employee and a seven-year male employee previously received a three-day suspension for their first offenses discovered by the Spa’s computer monitoring program. Each employee accessed the websites on the desktop computer in their respective offices. On both occasions, no one else witnessed the images on the screen.


To what extent, if any, does the alternative handbook provision have on the employees’ status as an employee-at-will? Would you advise the Spa regarding Suzanne’s termination differently?

Section Two:

An employee, who worked at an auto parts warehouse, was responsible for retrieving auto parts and loading them onto a conveyor belt. These activities required him to lift up to 60 pounds at a time.

He hurt his arm while working and was diagnosed with severe tendinitis. Although he recovered to the maximum extent that could be expected, he was subject to medical restrictions limiting him to lift no more than 10 pounds consistently, and no more than 40 pounds occasionally.

While he was being treated, the company provided him with temporary assignments that involved little lifting. After it was determined that his condition would not improve, the company was unwilling to allow him to continue in the temporary job. Instead, the company offered him a part-time security guard position at much lower pay. The man declined the job and he was consequently terminated.


Has the employer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act? Explain.

Section Three:

The Director of Human Resources at ABC Corp. received a copy of the monitoring data regarding employee Internet use. ABC installed a program that monitors the company computers they provide to some of their employees. The data shows that Harry Henderson, from the Accounting Department, has been accessing gambling sites during the workweek. The data provided to the Director shows user activity for the last month and Harry has accessed gambling sites daily. The Director called Harry in for a meeting and questioned him about the monitoring data. She expressed her disappointment that he would blemish his ten-year tenure with ABC by accessing “inappropriate” websites. Harry argues that his computer, located in his personal office with a door that he locks every night, is in an area where he expects his privacy to be respected and is appalled by the “Big Brother” behavior. He further stated that he only went on the gambling sites during his lunch or rest breaks. This assertion is corroborated by the data. And finally, there is no evidence that his work product has decreased or has been negatively affected. Harry’s most current evaluation is satisfactory and consistent with his past evaluations.


Is Harry’s expectation of privacy legitimate? Explain.

Would you discipline Harry?

Please incorporate the concepts of “progressive discipline” and “provider exception”.

Section Four:

A dockworker reveals that he has diabetes and will need additional or unscheduled breaks to either eat, take medication or rest on occasion, but not necessarily daily. According to his doctor, these breaks should take no more than fifteen (15) minutes. Among the essential functions of a dockworker are reading the daily invoice sheets, lifting boxes up to 30 pounds and driving a forklift. The dockworkers schedule is from 5 am to 1:30 pm. They are provided with a morning and afternoon break of fifteen minutes and a half-hour lunch period. The half-hour lunch period is unpaid. The loading of the trucks, the most essential function, is performed from 5:00 am to 8:00 am. The rest of the day the dockworkers put into place the next day’s deliveries and clean up the dock area. Cleaning consists of sweeping and washing the docks daily. The District Manager is concerned about the affect the applicant’s condition may have on productivity, especially the morning loading.


The District Manager has come to you for advice. Has there been a valid request for an accommodation? Describe the ADA analysis you would use to determine whether to grant the request. What, if any, accommodation could you offer the dockworker?


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