What are the legal issues in this case study
Employment terms and conditions and wrongful termination are the most clear legal issues that are pointed out in this case study. The nature of employment offered by Jogbra is described as at-will employment. This ought to have been expressly communicated.
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Taylor and Emir (2012), argues that such an employment status should be revealed during three critical junctures which are: when applying for the job, when giving the letter of offer and finally in the employee handbook. The company failed to do this and even their employee handbook did not clearly relay this information.
When a person is being offered a job it is prudent that the management clearly states the nature of employment, from the case study it is evident that the management at Jogbra failed to avail this information during the hiring process.
At the time of the interview, the sales vice president gave the impression it was a long term position and was of the opinion that it would take close to six months to be comfortable with the position, only to reverse this stand and say that within the first ten days the company had taken a new position, her employment would not work out.
Janice (2013) notes that by not allowing a worker to perform or continue to perform their duties the worker can be considered victimized by the principal. The attitude of the management can be seen as victimization as they had not given her the time they has estimated it would take for her to get acquainted with the tasks.
Dillon was a salaried employee and there are certain procedures that the company had to follow before firing her. The employee handbook described instances when an employee could be fired (Bales, Hirsch and Secunda, 2013).
She had not breached any of the company policies and thus the grounds for losing her job were not in accordance with company policies leading to a wrongful termination.
Explain what the implied contract was in this case
The nature of employment was not expressly communicated by management. Comments made during the interview seemed to imply that the position was long term. The promise for extensive training hinted that the company was ready to develop her skills for its benefit.
Employee training and development is costly and companies do not make such investments for the sake of it, rather it is seen as a long term strategic move to create a competitive advantage.
When a company takes such deliberate measures to the extent of recalling a predecessor to offer training, it is justified if employees read this as a sign of long term commitment to the company (Taylor and Emir, 2012).
Even though the Jogbra offers no employment contract and reserves the right to terminate employment at any time this does not mean that it does not offer long term employment opportunities to job seekers.
The fact that between 1996 and 1997 the company developed a corrective action procedure as an addition to its employment manual implies that it was working on improving the job security of its employees. The corrective action procedure described an elaborate discipline system that was to be applied in a fair and consistent manner.
The human resource manager clearly said that the company could not just fire a person; statements such as these give the impression that employees enjoy a certain degree of job security.
It was not wrong for Dillon to expect a certain level of job security after assurances by company management as well as guidelines contained in the employee manual. The company failed to express is employment terms in a clear and unambiguous manner.
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Explain how the employer breached the implied contract
From the case study it is evident that Jogbra does not have a definite position when it comes to the security of tenure of its employees. The position it takes is characterized by convenience and self interests. According to Janice (2013), there are general reasons for termination of employment despite the nature of employment.
It can be based on the employee’s capabilities and qualifications with regard to the kind of work they are performing, if there are certain restrictions, employee redundancy or their conduct. Dillon’s termination of employment was not based on these general or those specified in the corrective action procedure leading to a breach of contract.
At-will agreements provide no restrictions to contracting parties to modify or specify new terms of their agreement (Walsh, 2010). Dillon’s terms of employment could have been easily modified once the management realized that things were not working out. The company’s decision to fire her in December was a breach of implied long term employment tenure.
The employment manual cannot be relied on to provide guidance to either the employer or the employee on the status on their employment. Its ambiguity is prone to misinterpretation to suit the needs of the company at the expense of the employees.
The management breached its agreement with Dillon when it failed to follow the guidelines as pertains termination of employment.
Explain why the disclaimer in the employee manual does not have the effect desired by the employer
The disclaimer contained in the employee manual states that policies and procedures stated therein are not part of an employment contract nor are they a sign of commitment to employees regarding how their terms of employment should be handled.
To begin with, this disclaimer does not change the fact that at-will agreement are subject to change by either parties (Walsh, 2010). The disclaimer is thus inconsequential should a party to the agreement decide to request a review of terms and conditions.
The disclaimer may not always serve the interests of the employers because many courts in the past have ruled that employee handbook only forms part of an at-will agreements, its contents however are not independent or necessary create contractual obligation or rights.
The employee manual thus is a legal document but its contents do not force an employee to fulfill contractual obligations (Bales, Hirsch and Secunda, 2013).
The laws of the land rule are more important than company regulations (Janice, 2013). If the disclaimer contravenes the laws of employment or infringes on the rights of employees then it fails to achieve its purpose.
Disclaimers given in the employee manual does not affect national employee laws this is why Dillon was able to challenge her dismissal.
It should be noted that the contents of employee manual do not prevent an aggrieved party form seeking the court’s intervention.
Bales, A., Hirsch, M., & Secunda, M. (2013). Understanding Employment Law. Ohio: LexisNexis.
Janice, N. (2013). Employment law statues 2011-2012. California: Routledge.
Taylor, S., & Emir, A. (2012). Employment law: an introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Walsh, D. J. (2010). Employment law for human resource practice: 2010 custom edition. Mason, OH: South- Western Cengage Learning.