Human resource management
Human resource management
FACT PATTERN 1
The grievant is an 11-year employee as an engineer in the boiler room of a hospital. He has a good record.
The grievant was required to wear a hospital-issued uniform at all times. Since his hire at the hospital, the grievant has worn an untucked hospital uniform shirt and a woven skullcap in observance of his Muslim faith. There is no evidence that the grievant’s manager ever had a problem with the grievant’s attire.
A new manager was hired in anticipation of an upcoming merger with another company. He walked into the boiler room and found the grievant working in an untucked shirt and skullcap. He informed the grievant that he would be running a “tight ship”. It was very important, he explained, that all of the current hospital employees be in “top form” as the merger approached. That way, they would be less likely to be laid off following the merger.
The grievant explained to the new manager that he was required to wear an untucked shirt in order to cover his private parts, and a cap in order to acknowledge the superiority of the Supreme Being. He presented a pamphlet entitled “An Employer’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices”, which confirmed that both of these practices were religious requirements for devout Muslims.
The new manager continued to insists that the grievant tuck in his shirt and remove the skullcap. He issued him a memo warning him that failure to do so would result in discipline. He mentioned that an untucked shirt in a boiler room was a safety hazard, as the shirttails could become caught on moving parts of the machinery. The grievant continued to dress in the manner required by faith, and over the course of the next month, received two written warnings and one five-day suspension for insubordination. Finally, he was terminated for failing to follow a direct order from his superior.
The union argues that the hospital is required to accommodate religious practices as reasonably as possible, pursuant to Title VII. As a boiler room employee, the grievant is not regularly seen by the public. In addition, the union argues that an untucked shirt is not a safety hazard – the tails are not long enough to be reasonably expected to catch on any moving parts.
Management argues that the grievant was blatantly insubordinate for several weeks straight and never attempted to discuss the issue reasonably with his superiors. Had he presented a compromise or suggestion as how to observe his faith safely and presentably, they would have been happy to consider it. Instead, he was rude and unresponsive to his manager and simply ignored his requests. They cannot be expected to allow such behavior slide without discipline.
Would you uphold the discharge? Include in your discussion the concepts of “just cause” and “progressive discipline”.
Is management’s position that “the employee never attempted to discuss the issue” consistent with their legal obligations?
FACT PATTERN 2
You are an office manager hiring a new clinical staff member. You contact an applicant, Kathy, to schedule an interview and who appears to be an ideal candidate. When you call, you realize you are calling through a TDD relay because Kathy is deaf. Kathy asks for a sign language interpreter to be present during the interview. You don’t know whether the position she has applied for can be done by one who is deaf, and you don’t know the first thing about hiring a sign language interpreter or what they cost.
1. Should you interview Kathy? Why or why not? Can you ask Kathy if she is willing to pay for the interpreter?
2. When you interview Kathy and tell her that the requirements of the job include some phone work, she indicates that she would need a TDD machine in order to do that, and where possible, would prefer to use email communication. What do you do?
3. You hire Kathy, and once she starts work she tells you that she needs three ten-minute breaks each day to pray, and a private place to do so. The position allows for a sixty-minute, unpaid lunch break and two ten-minute breaks. Do you have to make the accommodation, and if so, what might that accommodation be?
FACT PATTERN 3
Jimmy Johnson works at the Pawtucket branch of the ABC Corp., a tomato sauce manufacturer headquartered in Providence. The Pawtucket branch has 27 employees, most part-time, but is the largest of the three branches. The Providence headquarters has 25 employees and the Warwick branch has 15 employees. Each office has two well-paid sales representatives. Jimmy has worked full-time as a sales representative for ABC for the past fifteen years and has received many commendations in attendance and performance. This year Jimmy has not missed one day of work, and, if he maintains his sales edge over Jack Jones this quarter he will win the “Sales Representative Award”. On the morning of October 1, Jimmy went into his supervisor’s office requesting six (6) weeks of family leave on or about December 1 which is the expecting date for his first child.
I. Explain whether Jimmy Johnson would be eligible for FMLA leave, and any issues that may occur regarding reinstatement.
Assuming all FMLA criteria can be met and leave was granted, the baby is born four weeks premature. The morning of the child’s birth, Jimmy telephoned his supervisor leaving a message on voicemail about the birth and that he would begin his granted leave that day.
II. Can Jimmy commence his FMLA leave upon notification?
Fact Pattern #3
The grievant is a driver for a bulk mail delivery service. He has an excellent safety record and has been nominated twice in his twelve-year career as Driver of the Year.
All drivers are required to conduct pre- and post-trip inspections of their vehicle, in which they are to check that all the parts and accessories on the vehicle are in order, such as the service brakes, hand brakes, steering mechanism, horn, lights, etc. They are told that this inspection should be performed in 15 minutes or less. Most of the drivers have no trouble completing the inspection in less than fifteen minutes, but the grievant regularly takes up to 30 minutes to complete his. (The drivers record their schedule on an on-board computer, and this includes inspections, delivery times, and breaks.)
On November 7th, the grievant’s supervisor calls him and tells him he is issuing a verbal warning for taking excessively long on his pre- and post-trip inspections. He also tells him he has been taking too many breaks. (Occasionally the grievant takes four breaks during his shifts, which the company believes is too many. The recommended number is not given.)
On November 14th, after failing to conduct his inspections more quickly, the grievant receives a written warning, which states that further infractions could result in discipline up to an including discharge. Following this letter the grievant continues to make 30-minute inspections but falsifies the record on the on-board computer to indicate that he has been making 15-minute inspections. Management finds out about this, and on December 5th discharges him for insubordination.
The union claims that the termination is unjust and that the grievant did not receive due process. He was not asked to explain his actions. In addition, his excellent driving record should be taken into consideration. Performing very thorough inspections should not be grounds for termination.
Management argued that the insubordination and falsification of company documents is serious enough to warrant discharge.
Please explain whether you would uphold the discharge.