Employment At Will
According to Mull (2001), “The employment-at-will doctrine avows that, when an employee does not have a written employment contract and the term of employment is of indefinite duration, the employer can terminate the employee for good cause, bad cause, or no cause at all” (Mull, 2001). This paper will evaluate who can legally be fired, the actions taken to limit liability, recommendation of the whistle blower policy, and three fundamental items to incorporate with the whistle blowing policy.
In the case of John ranting on his Backbone page is an act that may lead to termination. Majority of companies implement a no social media policy whether t is trying to use during work hours or even bashing the company and/or its clients. Employees must remember at all times that they are a representation of the organization. It is okay and perfectly normal for John or any other employee to be frustrated with customers, however, everything that comes to mind doesn’t need to be said. It would be in an employee’s best interest to seek counseling in order to manage frustrations.
Many companies offer counseling services through Employee Assistance Programs, which allocate employees a set number of therapy sessions free of charge. John should be penalized for violating the company’s no social media policy; however, his termination can be considered a violation of the Covenant of Good Faith exception. This exception, according to Mull (2001 ) states, “employer personnel decisions are subject to a “just cause” standard or that terminations made in bad faith or motivated by malice are prohibited” (Mull, 2001).
Firing John for expressing his feelings can be considered retaliation and malice. But, John criticizing the company and clients also leaves a negative impression for potential employees and/or customers. In the case of Jim sending an email to other employees suggesting a protest, his first point of contact should be his manager to have his concerns addressed. Jims email poses a liability to the company because it leaves the opportunity to have other employees in agreement with his thoughts and feelings about the commission structure.
To prevent this liability, the company could terminate Jims employment. However, this situation could fall under the exception of Implied Contract. According to Mull, (2001), “The typical situation involves handbook provisions which state that employees will be disciplined or terminated only for just cause” or under other specified circumstances, or provisions which indicate that an employer will follow specific procedures before disciplining or terminating an employee (Mull, 2001).
In this instance, before Jim could be fired, the proper protocols and chain of command should be followed. The situation needs to be properly documented to make sure the company is following the correct procedures. Having a whistle blower policy would allow employees to have their concerns addressed commission structure. It is important that employees have an outlet to express themselves without fear of being ruminated Allen’s blobbing can be perceived as a threat to the company’s business operations because it speaks directly about the Coo’s position and compensation.
There is an inherent liability to having company information made public through a blob. Blobs and other media outlets are accessed by several people throughout the day and if a reporter came across this information, it could be used for a news story, bringing even more attention to the company. Providing that the company does not have any of the aforementioned exclusions, Ellen should be terminated for her actions. It is an employee’s responsibility to uphold the values and ethics of the company.
Many companies provide employees with equipment and funds to be used for work purposes only. Not using them for their intended purposes violates company policy. In the case of Bill using his company-issued BlackBerry for his own side business is a conflict of interest. If the company and Bill service the same markets and consumers, this act takes away from the consumer base and revenue of the company. Bill should be reprimanded for his actions and also terminated for doing his own side business at the compass expense.
To limit this type of liability from happening again, employees using company-issued equipment should sign specific clauses that prohibit unauthorized usage of this equipment and also outline the consequences of doing so. This protects the company from the potential loss of revenue and customers, and also ensures that the employee follows the proper rules and regulations. In the case of the secretaries protesting the memo announcing that the company has installed Kellogg software on all company computers, a whistle blower program is necessary to document their concerns about the software.
Companies have a right to monitor employees to ensure that they are doing their jobs. The secretaries should only be fired if their protest creates an unhealthy environment for the other employees or if it becomes a direct threat to business operations. To limit this type of liability, the company should allow the secretaries either through management or an Employee Assistance Program to speak about the Kellogg software and also create documentation that explains why there is a need for these types of measures.
If the situation escalates to where the employees are refusing to do their work or being insubordinate, then orientation measures should be taken. It is the employee’s responsibility to fulfill their job duties. Joe was penalized for sending a personal email on a company computer that criticized a customer. This is an inherent violation of company equipment usage policies and he should be terminated because of it. Despite sending the email from his personal account, Joe is still a representation of the company and what he did is negative and leaves a bad impression of the company itself.
A whistle blower policy would allow Joe to dispute his termination and show that he was ruinously terminated without taking the issue to court. According to Danni (2007) “Many employers believe that if they set up an at-will system and police it vigorously they will be safe from lawsuits. This is not necessarily so. ” He would have to prove that sending that type of email from his personal account on a company computer did not violate any company policies or affect the business operations of the company.
If Joe felt he was wrongfully terminated, he could take his case to the courts to decide if this was true or not. This could prove to be a lengthy and expensive process for the company itself. In this instance, the company accessing information that was sent using company property is not a violation of Joey’s privacy. In the case of the employee that the supervisor wants to fire, once it was revealed that the manager wants to fire her for refusing to prepare false expense reports, my investigation would then turn to the manager.
She should not be fired for refusing to do something that she felt was unethical or against her morals. The manager should be investigated to discover why the need for false expense reports has arisen. Employment Torts would protect the secretary from Ewing fired for refusing the managers request. Danni (2007) states, ‘These torts protect employees who blow the whistle on employer violations of law or public policy; who refuse to commit an unlawful act or violate public policy; who fulfill a public obligation, such as jury service; or who exercise a statutory right” (Danni, 2007).
Additionally, the secretary is protected by the Public Policy Exception to the employment at will doctrine. The Public Policy exception states “an employee cannot be terminated if such a termination would be counter to public policy” (Swift, 2010). Falsifying documents is a violation of both company and public policy. Anna’s boss refused to sign her leave request for jury duty and as a result, her boss wants to fire her for being absent. A whistle blower policy should be enacted to allow Anna the opportunity to dispute the fact that her boss wants to fire her.
Firing Anna for attending jury duty is a violation of the Public Policy exemption of the employment at will doctrine. In the case Ones vs.. Hocks, the employee faced a situation similar to Anna’s. The court ruled in favor of the employee. According to Swift (2010), “In holding for the employee, the court seasoned that if an employer could terminate with impunity an employee for serving on a jury, the moral of the community, as demonstrated through the jury system, would be thwarted” (Swift, 2010). This also violates Anna’s right to serve her country through jury duty.
Each situation shows how the employment at will doctrine can be enforced and also abused. Companies have a right to protect themselves against any retaliation from employees in the form of social media, blobs, emails, word of mouth, or any other avenue but employees also have a right to be protected from unlawful terminations. There are three specific exceptions to the employment at will doctrine, to include the Public Policy exemption, Implied Contract exemption and the Covenant of Good Faith exception.