Title VII of the Civil Rights Act forbids discrimination by employers based on race or any physical characteristic associated with a person's race, such as hair or color (Civil Rights Act of 1964). The law requires all employees to be color blind while hiring. In this case, the organization respects the law and has a balance of employees from different races. Alexi Chin is an Asian-American. Alim Jones is a naturalized American, Peter and Sandy are Caucasian, and Mary is African-American. The statute also provides that no employee shall be discriminated o the basis of gender or religion. The company has a balance between male and female employees and respectful of their faith. Alim, for example, has the luxury to take breaks from his work to pray and meditate, showing that the employer reasonably accommodates his religious practices. In terminating the employment contract of any of the employees, it should be made clear that the reason for termination is not based on the grounds of race, gender, or religion, but the performance and overall productivity.
Sexual Harassment in Employment
Employment discrimination and civil rights law include sexual harassment law. Sexual harassment happens where an individual makes sexual advances such as touching, groping or making demeaning and suggestive comments towards another. Such sexual conduct of sexual nature in the workplace may result in a lawsuit for personal injury. A convention by the United Nations required that state put measures against the discrimination of women in employment (Aeberhard-Hodges, J, p.505). The Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women Article 11.1 provided for such measures. The Committee on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was set up to fight violence against women, including sexual harassment (Report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, pp 1-6). Alexi being a top-notch software engineer is an asset to the company. However, she raised concerns about some form of sexual harassment by Bob, a contractor. The conduct by Bob is the reason for her absenteeism and should be addressed promptly. Misconduct in the workplace should not be tolerated, especially if it involves sexual harassment of an employee. The best option is to warn Bob of his misconduct, which seems to affect her work. Alexi, although unsocial, should not be fired but could be encouraged to be more interactive at the workplace.
Alim Jones's productivity is above average, and he has to maintain computer systems. However, he takes too many breaks, and the other employees complain that they work longer hours than him. Breaking for prayers and meditation as required by his religion is allowed, but he ends up not working to the required standard. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires that employers reasonably accommodate religious practices such as prayer unless it causes undue hardship to the company (Bennett-Alexander& Hartman, p.540). The Civil Rights Act is against religious discrimination of all persons. However, in certain circumstances might require the employee to weigh the cost of such accommodation. In a judgment made in 2013 between a Nebraska meat producer and Muslim employees, favored the employer. The employees were allowed breaks for prayer, but they further requested extra accommodation for the Maghrib or sunset prayer. The employer refused to accommodate the group, which later led to a lawsuit against the employer. The district court held that the requested accommodation would constitute an undue hardship on the part of the manufacturer (Lexology, 2017). Undue hardship includes decreasing workplace efficiency, which is the case for Alim. The company accommodates him by allowing him to carry out his religious practices. However, Alim falls on the list of employees that should be laid off. Additionally, his duty of maintaining computer systems will be obsolete, and therefore his services will not be required in the future.
Peter Pierce has no requisite qualification despite playing a massive role in programming with his experience in the Navy. Discrimination due to illness by his fellow employees is unfair and unethical. Such behavior should not be condoned at any given point. However, Peter's main weakness is absenteeism as he has missed seventeen days in the last two months. Absenteeism is costly to a business as it leads to low productivity because others are forced to work overtime to cover up for absent employees. The company might also be required to incur extra costs for securing temporary replacements. Other than his programming experience, Peter has no educational background and, therefore, of little use to the company. For this reason, it would be necessary to terminate his employment.
Early Retirement Incentives Programs
Sandy is the oldest employee among the five is nearing retirement age. Since Bright Electronics Inc. has the intention of reducing its workforce, it may offer Sandy a package of incentives that could encourage her to leave the company voluntarily. Instead of firing her, the retirement incentives option would be best since terminating her employment would cause her hardship. She has served the company for twenty-five years, and accepting the early retirement package would not only show gratitude for her service but also secure her financially after the termination of employment. Early retirement packages may include but not limited to continued health coverage. Termination of Sandy should be in a way that conforms with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The statute prohibits employers against discrimination of employees based on their age (Age Discrimination Act of 1967). Firing Sandy involuntarily without offering benefits would attract potential lawsuit against the company and frustrate her since getting a new job at her age would be hard. Sandy should be given ample time to decide on acceptance of the early retirement package pending her termination so as not to raise any legal risks. In the case of Paolillo V Dresser Industries, the chief Judge Winfred Feinberg held that the decision by the employee to accept the early retirement offer was not wholly voluntary because the employee was given a short time to decide on such an important matter (Glennen M, pp 807-822).
Mary is an ambitious, smart lady, and most of the news division's sales were as a result of her hard work. For this reason, Mary is an asset to the company, especially during the period where sales have diminished, and profits have declined. Although Mary is not a team player, she supports civil rights and regards to the welfare of others. Active participation in the civil rights group would encourage other employees to be more aware of their rights as employees and be able to point out any misconduct in the company. Because she is smart and talented, Mary has the necessary skills to execute the company's strategies in the future. Therefore, the best option would be to retain her.
In conclusion, many companies opt for employment downsizing due to various factors such as labor costs and an increase in overall productivity and profits. However, human resource managers must look into the legal aspects of employee termination, especially is the employment was contractual. Due notice of termination is mandatory inclusive of reasons for termination that can be clearly understood by the employee. The ideas should be fair and not inconsistent with the law; otherwise, the company could be liable for such actions. The above employees should be duly notified of their termination of employment with valid reasons to support the decision made. Cutting off workers might be a viable business strategy but may lead to burnout and stress due to reduced workforce (Cascio, W.F, p 3). Downsizing might cause more harm than good where the employees might feel some betrayal after Sandy is terminated, and this may increase employee turnover.
Aeberhard-Hodges, J. (1996). Sexual harassment in employment: Recent judicial and arbitral trends. Int'l Lab. Rev. 135, 499.
Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
Bennett-Alexander, D., & Hartman, L. (2019). ISE EBook Online Access for Employment Law for Business (9th ed., p. 540). McGraw-Hill US Higher Ed ISE.
Cascio, W. F. (2010). Employment downsizing and its alternatives. SHRM Foundation's Effective Practical Guide Series.
Civil Rights Act of 1964
Glennen, M. (1996). Age Discrimination and Early Retirement. UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS LAW REVIEW, 44, 807-822.
Let us pray: the challenges of accommodating Muslim prayer in the workplace | Lexology. (2020). https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=e3a833eb-73d6-4dfe-ac7e-bd42284715f8
Report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Eleventh Session, General Assembly, Official Records, Forty-seventh Session, Supplement No. 38, A/47/38, New York, 1992, pp. 1-6.
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