The at-will employment doctrine states that there is no explicit work contract that binds the employer and employee to employment. This means that an employer can freely discharge or terminate the service of the employee without prior cause. Similarly, the employee is free to cease employment at any given time without recourse to liability. In this case, the new employee in the accounting department seems to be a slow learner in computer applications. In spite of the fact that she could cease employment at any time, effective means of motivational training can bring her back into the productive position and also increase her willingness to work for the company for a longer period.
The first step would be to evaluate her current level of competence. She might have not gained much from the previous training but could have the determination to prove her perceived “genius”. Performance evaluation will be administered involving her other core competencies, including service, production, interpersonal interaction, and efficiency. In this case, a focus will be given to her willingness to learn.
Secondly, after performance evaluation, the results will be used to identify her weaknesses and areas that could be improved. Apparently, the employee’s main weakness lies mainly in her inability to quickly grasp and apply computer application programs. Factors that contribute to this shortfall could also be ascertained, as it may turn out that the techniques used to train her are ineffective.
Thirdly, these results will be communicated to her on a personal basis. The need for computer skills will be accentuated to her in a direct and professional manner. She will be asked to suggest the form of training that she prefers so as to acquire and use computer skills necessary for work. This form of approach will give her motivation to foster her professional responsibility (Outten, 2007). Other factors that could have contributed to her slow-paced learning will also be addressed and eliminated.
The fourth step would be to develop and implement a viable training program that encompasses all of the discussed issues. The most basic concept of improvement will be the first training manual, which will be improved for her organizational integration, such as interpersonal relationships with her seniors. For instance, she could be paired with other employees so as to utilize the on-job practical training advantage.
Lastly, improvements will be monitored and feedback provided on a regular basis. Follow-throughs will come in handy during the improvement process. Communication will be important, as it will provide information on areas that could be adjusted for improved effectiveness of the program. It should be noted that terminating the employment is not the best course of action, since the problem might be organization-oriented and hence persistent.
Management, Behavior and Performance
The employee seems misguided by the limited knowledge of employment-at-will doctrine. In my own capacity, it would not be a priority to fire her from the company before making her understand her position and the company’s position on the doctrine, should termination be a choice. The step taken is therefore to make an appointment with her and explain the exceptions to the doctrine as follows:
There are three main exemptions to the employment-at-will doctrine outlined in the common law. These exceptions mainly address termination that does not seem just, though they comply with the doctrine (Muhl, 2001). The most common exception prevents termination on grounds violating a state’s public policy. The second exception prohibits termination after establishing an implied contract for employment, such as continued employment. Finally, covenants of good faith and fair dealings in employment relationships can be used as an exception to termination.
In the first case of the public-policy exception, an employee is considered to be wrongfully discharged if the termination is against a well-established public policy of the state. For instance, an employer cannot terminate his employee for refusing the employer’s request to commit perjury during a trial or exercising her statutory right by filing a claim under the state workers’ compensation law. This exception is therefore restricted to public policy, which is clearly defined (Muhl, 2001). In other words, if an employee contravenes the company’s policy such as time for reporting for work, this exception to the employment-at-will doctrine cannot be used as a prescription since there is not any right that has been denied.
Under the implied contract exception, the plaintiff may claim that her employers or supervisors have given oral or written assurance of the intention to continue offering services to the firm. Additionally, employer’s handbook, practices, or policies may give rise to an implied contract (Stone, 2007). If an employer desisted from using languages, words, and/or phrases that promised long-term or permanent employment, it would then be extremely difficult to use this exception as a defense in case of termination. The employee could therefore not successfully use this exception in a law court as she claims.
Lastly, some states recognize implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing in employment. This is in an effort to prohibit terminations made by employers in bad faith or under malicious motives (Muhl, 2001). An example of job-termination under bad faith is firing an elderly employee so that her retirement benefits are not paid by the company. Since there is no evidence of unfair treatment to our new employee, it therefore will be difficult to apply this principle in defending herself.
After the explanation of these legal principles, it will be upon the employee to decide whether to change her attitude and approach or face the worst alternative from management.
Absenteeism and Labor Laws
The action taken by the employee to relinquish his duties on a working day is a gross conduct issue and should be dealt with accordingly. This action would lead to not only losses by the company, but also to a bad influence on other workers (Glynn, Arnow-Richman & Sullivan, 2007). Furthermore, the act of using working time to influence other workers by inciting them to form a union is considered to be done in bad faith so as to divert attention from the employee’s misconduct. The following steps would therefore be followed in addressing these issues.
When the employee reappears for work, her unauthorized absence on a day that the company was in great need for her services will be considered a conduct issue. As such, the situation will be dealt with using the company’s disciplinary procedures. She will be informed of this in writing and on a date when her case will be heard by the disciplinary committee (Glynn, 2007). It should be made clear to her that her unauthorized absence, even after her supervisor had discouraged it, was an act of gross misconduct and could result in dismissal. Since hers is an employment-at-will case, the hearing may be done in her absence if the committee deems it fit.
Generally, the company is not under any obligation to pay her for the time that she was absent without permission. This is so because, firstly, there is no reason for paying for the services that were not rendered and, secondly, due to her absence, the company incurred losses. Therefore, the company shall not pay her for the period that she was absent since she contravened an important element of the working contract, that is, failed to turn up for work.
Relationship Policies and Procedures
The existence of policies on harassment and relationships alone in an organization is not enough for the prevention of such voices. For effectiveness, these policies must be able to clearly identify who is protected, explain the prohibited conduct, and inform employees on where to report such cases (Buchaman & Wiswall, 1999). In order to stay sensitive about these issues, training of all the staff on the company’s standards will help them know the impacts and consequences that consensual and romantic relationships could result into. Training will also reduce damages that may result from litigation.
Relationships between superiors and subordinates often result in a conflict of interest. Personal relationships interfere with business decisions and activities. Therefore, all employees will be required to disclose relationships that may create conflicts so that an employer can prepare appropriate actions in case the conflict arises. Alternatively, if a romantic relationship exists between two employees and they acknowledge it, they can therefore sign a consensual relationship agreement form. This agreement or contract acknowledges that the relationship is consensual and will not interfere with the job performance of the involved parties. The policy on work relationships should apply to all work-related events so that there is no avenue whereby personal relationships between employees could start.
On the reported case, an investigation should be conducted exhaustively, but in good faith. Appropriate disciplinary measures should be taken according to the policies of the company.