The economy hurts many people in different ways, and not singularly the people who are laid off from positions of employment, but often the people who have to make the difficult decisions to select who will be separated from the organization. During business courses, students will explore the realm of firing and hiring, the legalities and the ethical positions that make a difference when committing to both decision and the potential problems after such a decision. Some colleges provide students with invented organizations to develop these theories from, and in the case of the University of Phoenix, this organization is FastServe Inc. The following was my assessment during the course regarding selection of personnel for separation from the organization.
FastServe Inc. is a US company with a work force of approximately 350 people, and the company markets “branded sports apparel” with a “focus exclusively on America’s sport-crazy Generation Y segment” (Legal Environment of Business, n.d.). Upon developing the online marketing distribution channels, FastServe Inc. it became apparent the costs for maintaining these channels were beyond the means of the company, and these ideas were shelved. Unfortunately, this also required changes in staffing to reduce staff increases that were made for the changes. Companies face many issues when reducing the numbers of their staff, including keeping members who are productive, as well as maintaining talent levels, and increasing the number of staff members who contribute to the bigger picture. However, companies are faced with hard decisions that include avoiding issues of discrimination, severance packages, and layoffs without pay.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin (EEOC, 1997). Additionally, “the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973” were developed along with the Revised Statutes of 1977 to protect employees from discrimination of disability, as well as sexual harassment issues. Additionally, the amendments offer for the “recovery of compensatory and punitive damages in cases of intentional violations of Title VII” (EEOC, 1997, para. 1). FastServe Inc. operates an “at will” employment, and intends to layoff three people; these three people must demonstrate reasons for their dismissal that are both fair and legal. Should the employees feel that they were dismissed for discriminatory reasons, FastServe Inc. could be faced with a lawsuit.
There are five people in the final list of options for employees who could be dismissed for the layoffs: Carl Haimes, Brian Carter, Sarah Boyd, Nora Manson, and Jenny Mills. Each member has positive and negative aspects of their careers with FastServe Inc. that can influence the final decision.
One of the highest priorities of retaining employees is how they fit into the new design the company will move to, this requires review of the “Sample Skill Sets & Job Responsibility.” Currently Brian Carter has suffered an injury which could be the direct relation to his position with FastServe, and while this is a considerable issue which must be examined, it is not reason to move his position when his skill sets do not reflect need for the current future of FastServe. Sarah Boyd has been with FastServe for 15 years and has always been a faithful and responsible employee; however, her position in the office is being automated and will no longer be needed (Legal Environment of Business, n.d.). Removal of personal whose positions will have to be filled, defeats the purpose of layoffs. As critical skills keep employees safe during times of recession, the only other good decision is to layoff Jenny Mills, the downside is that she is pregnant and may feel as if her job is being downsized due to her change in family size.
Reviewing the attached table enables us to understand the risk that involves each of the employees up for consideration for downsizing. While the company does operate an “at-will” employment, laws regulating employers to reduce discrimination, still apply to the process of separating employees from the company. The highest risk for a lawsuit is Nora Manson who is an activist and proclaimed feminist. While the basis for her layoff would be founded, it could still result in a lawsuit. Medium risk includes Carl Haimes, as there is already an issue with another employee in regards to his sexual orientation, and adding his name to the downsizing could send the wrong message to other employees. Additionally, Carl Haimes has the potential to be a very productive member of the upcoming changes by being a consultant for the information systems. Medium risk also describes laying off Sarah Boyd because Nora Manson could encourage her to file claims in regards to age discrimination; however, laying her off with a solid separation package could reduce both her desire to do so as well as her ability to prove need to a lawyer. Finally, both Brian Carter and Jenny Mills are low risk for lawsuits in that both jobs are not necessary for the upcoming vision of FastServe Inc., and their jobs cannot be proven as essential – therefore arguments of medical (or pregnancy) would not sustain a case of discrimination.
While there are many cases that should be considered for each of the risks for laying-off the different employees, here are some statements that are to be considered:
“[W]orkplace harassment that is sexual in content is always actionable, regardless of the harasser’s sex, sexual orientation, or motivation.” (Reed, Shedd, Morehead, & Corley, 2004, p. 453).
Pee V. Aum, Inc. 573 S.E. 2D 785 (2002), “Moore, J.:…Respondent (Claimant) was awarded workers’ compensation benefits for disability from carpal tunnel syndrome resulting from repetitive trauma to both wrists.” (Reed, Shedd, Morehead, & Corley, 2004, p. 280). Retaliation such as firing for workers’ compensation benefits is against the decree of VII.
Title VII protects against age discrimination – “Forbids age-based discharge of employees over age 40” (Reed, Shedd, Morehead, & Corley, 2004, p. 417).
Discrimination against race or sex is prohibited under Title VII, and groups are designed to help persons fired for discrimination to obtain a lawyer even in cases where they cannot afford one for themselves. For instance, the NAACP brings cases of discrimination to court for plaintiffs who need assistance.
In regards to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act – “states that an employer cannot force a pregnant woman to stop working until her baby is born, provided she is capable of performing her duties properly.” (Reed, Shedd, Morehead, & Corley, 2004, p. 455).
While each are examples of how employment laws are protecting the five different employees, there are also the sections of the laws that protect business. Businesses have the right to downsize when it becomes necessary for continued operation to do so – as long as the lay-off process is fair and just, the companies can lay-off people as needed. It would be wrong for the company to downsize all the older employees, all the female employees, or all of any one group in the company; however, to remove people from employment is permitted as long as there is not discrimination. It is important for companies to be aware of who they fire and to carefully monitor their policies in regards to firing and laying-off members of their staff.
FastServe Inc. would be best suited to lay-off Brian Carter, Sarah Boyd, and Jenny Mills, not because of the different things that are going on with them, but simply because of the skill sets they currently carry. While it could be argued that a place could be found within the company to accommodate their specific skill sets, the goal of the simulation was to fire three people. The three people I fired were the least essential based on skill sets, but also based on the risk factors involved. Three things that influenced my decision most was what actions I felt the individual would take after the firing process, the severance packages that would be involved, and the perceived loss of skills if the member should leave.
Finally, deciding who should stay and who should go is never an easy decision. Often I am drawn to keeping the people who are most productive and who come to work on time – always. These are strong considerations for me, even though sometimes there are other circumstances that must be considered. When doing the simulation I wanted to fire Nora Manson because her productivity and absenteeism made me concerned that she was risky for future production and maintaining goals that FastServe Inc. might set for the call centers; however, I had to go against that decision because ultimately she was a high risk for costing the company more money to separate her than to keep her. I found that the decision had to weigh in to other matters – cost effectiveness, as well as legality. Title VII is very important to making solid decisions that could influence the course of business for companies who must make lay-off decisions.
While I agreed that Carl Haimes had solid reason to be upset with FastServe Inc., and also felt that he had grounds for forcing the company to set forth stronger policies to protect against the harassment, I would not have found it easy to agree with creating him a new position if it had not been for his job record and reliability. Often company policies play a huge role in enabling a company to act effectively in preventing lawsuits that may result from downsizing; unfortunately, FastServe Inc. did not have a strong policy for addressing issues such as the one that Carl Haimes experienced, this could have left the company in a very bad position if his job had been eliminated with no other position to put him in.
Overall, the final decision for whom to lay-off was completed and the final decisions were safe and proactive methods that FastServe Inc. could have faith would not result in lawsuits that could cost the company more money. Additionally, it kept members of the staff whose skill sets would suit the company’s current goals and enable them to begin to grow again.
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