You are an agent in this business law course. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, will be to provide a detailed analysis of both of the following fact situations, including sub-parts : ANSWER BOTH PART (#1 From A to C & #2 From A to C)
1. Mary the Contrary
Mary Moneypenny has worked for seven years at Mine & Grow, Inc., which makes custom vehicles for use in mining and agriculture. She meets you at a party, learns that you are an expert in employment law, and starts asking you questions.
A) Mary has been asked to chair a committee that will choose a new chief financial officer at Mine & Grow. She wonders whether candidates can be asked if they have children and if so what their childcare arrangements are, and also what their plans are for future childbearing.
B) Mine & Grow has a Defined Contribution pension plan. After an employee’s first year with the company, the company puts 8% of salary in a 401K plan and gives the employee the option of adding 2% of their salary. The plan has been producing pensions which are quite generous; more generous than their competitors. Mary’s idea, to save money, is to cut the employer contribution in half for employees who have been at the company for more than 25 years. Would that be legal?
C) Mary was approached by Oliver Overreach, of High-Roller Hedge Fund. Oliver says he will pay Mary to tell the hedge fund about Mine & Grow’s policies: what suppliers are they buying from? What suppliers have they dropped for selling second-rate products? This will give the hedge fund information useful in deciding when to buy and sell the stock of supplier companies. This would be easy money for Mary and will not hurt Mine & Grow. Mary asks if she will be running any legal risks if she accepts the offer from High-Roller.
2. Thank You For Your (Room) Service
You are the leading management employment expert in North Carolina. One of your clients is Highend Hotel and Spa, a high-end facility catering to wealthy clients. Highend has 200 employees.
Highend’s President and CEO, Frank N. Stein, takes a personal interest in employment issues at the hotel. He frequently calls you for advice on these issues. Yesterday he called you with the following concerns:
A) Highend provides its employees with an excellent package of health care coverage that it finances on a self-insured basis. In reviewing recent expenditures, the benefits department notified Mr. Stein that there was an increase in employees who were being treated for emphysema, chronic bronchitis and other respiratory problems. It costs the hotel tens of thousands of dollars in medical expenses, to say nothing of lost productivity. Stein believes cigarette and cigar smoking is the problem and he has come up with a possible way to limit these expenses, but he is not sure if it is legal. Using the internet he has researched religions whose beliefs include a prohibition on smoking. He has discovered that several of these religions have places of worship within reasonable commuting distance from the hotel. His idea is to mail each of the congregations a copy of all new job openings for the hotel each week. In this way he can increase the percentage of nonsmokers at the hotel. Is this legal? Discuss.
B) One employee in the accounting department, Carol Rambo, is going through a bitter divorce with her eccentric, militaristic and abusive husband. He has threatened “to get her” wherever she went. She has sought and obtained a restraining order from Superior Court. She notified her supervisor of this, and the Security Department at Highend decided to bring in 10 uniformed and armed security personnel to protect the Highend facility in the event Mr. Rambo showed up and threatened violence. Mrs. Rambo was pleased with the protection but one employee was not. Harvey Grunt was an army veteran who suffered post-traumatic stress syndrome. At the sight of the armed security guards, Grunt suffered “flashbacks” and began shouting and dove under his desk. He was so disruptive that the hotel’s security director canceled the uniformed guard company. Grunt was disciplined and demoted for his “outburst.”
C) The security director then hired a plain-clothes guard company, “Undercover Heat,” which had a clause in its contract prohibiting disclosing that they were on the job or the identities of any of the guards. When the uniformed guards were removed, and seemingly not replaced, Phyllis Faint filed a complaint with OSHA, asserting that the workplace was unsafe because of the possibility of violence. What do you advise concerning each of the actions taken by Highend? What should they do about the OSHA complaint? Discuss.
Jumping off questions: What possible legal actions does he have under all plausible legal theories? What legal arguments are likely to be raised by the defendant? What facts are most helpful and most damaging to the defendant? How do you think a court would rule in this case and why? Assuming we are in North Carolina, can Mary be fired? Can Carol be fired? Why or why not?