Employment-at-willIn North Carolina
Employment-at-willmeans that an employer can terminate or suspend an employee with norules or laws governing the terms of discontinuity from work. Thisworks when there is no lawfully issued contract or law that protectsthe employee in that company or organization. The state of NorthCarolina practices the employment-at-will. This allows the employersto discharge employees for an irrational or arbitrary reason. Theabsence of a predetermined agreement between the two parties meansthat the employer does not have a term of employment to use whendownsizing or discharging or even assigning demeaning tasks to anemployee.
However,there are some categories that are protected by the law of the stateof North Carolina that protects the civil rights of employees. Thesecategories include racial discrimination, gender inequality, sexualharassment, nationality or origin of an individual, religiousaffiliations, disabilities, maternity issues and age guidelines. This ensures that employees are not discharged due to the factorsoutlined in the protected categories. It is not lawful for employeesto be treated by their employers with contempt or disrespectaccording to the age, gender, physical, religious, race and healthfactors. Employees who feel that they have been disregarded ormistreated because of those factors are required to seek legalassistance.
Acase where employees have complained about discrimination happened ina Walmart store in 2013 when one employee wrote to a mediacomplaining about the mistreatment. However, it is not known whetherWalmart punished the employee because the employee did not usehis/her identity in the story.
TheRetaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA) of North Carolinaprotects the employees from any retaliation by the employee undersome categories. This act is managed by the Department of LEDB(Labor’s Employment Discrimination Bureau), and it protectsemployees engaging in actions that are protected by the Mine Healthand Safety Act, Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), theWorkers Compensation Act and the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act. It also protects employee’s participation in the juvenile courtsystem meaning that employees with children under the juvenile courtsystem are protected. (Mooneyham, 2010)
Employment-at-willis however not mandatory for every company. For employers who do notwant to practice it, there are ways to ensure that the organization’sculture and work ethics abide by both the state laws and theorganization’s policies. Signing contracts is one way of removingthe employment-at-will presumption. A contract is defined as alegally binding promise that must be adhered to by the parties whoagree to it and sign it. This allows employees to work for the amountof time specified in the contract without fear of abrupt termination.
Thereis also the public policy exception that excludes theemployment-at-will policy in some situations. This is especiallyuseful in cases where the employees have been wrongfully terminated.Also, when the public interest is at play, the law protects thecitizens from being discharged from their jobs. Situations like thisoccur when the company has violated laws and are being faced withlegal charges (Council, 2012). In such situations, the company cannotterminate its workers if they decide to testify against the company.
TheUnited States of America Congress saw the need to protect employeesin the country who report the illegal misconduct of their employers.This was done with a reason of reducing the number of case whereemployees feared to reveal illegal actions by their employers becausethey felt unprotected. This gives a legal avenue for employees toraise their issues without fearing the consequences of their actionsin the workplace. It is however very important for employees tounderstand that the law only works when they use legal platforms toraise their issues (Cheeseman, 2012). These processes include filingcomplaints to government agencies, taking the matter to court andtestifying in a legal proceeding, reporting to the supervisor orother people in charge of such issues.
Asthe company’s Chief Operating Officer, it is my duty to abide bythe standard ethical decision-making process. This means that mydecisions should not violate the rights of the employers, shouldsafeguard the company’s objective and should be legally acceptable(Livingstone, 2010). Making these decisions will require a lot offactors to be put into consideration. My main objective will be tomake proper decisions that will protect the company’s reputation.It is essential to balance power and responsibility to come up withmore viable solutions. Wisdom also plays a big role in thedecision-making process as it is a tool needed if any propersolutions are achieved. I should be able to understand how I canincorporate ethics into my decision-making process. It is importantfor me to understand that it is inevitable to attract differentopinions from the parties involved. These decisions should be able tolimit liabilities and impact the company’s operations in a positivemanner. Negative attitudes from employees and disrespect for thecompany’s policies lead to underperformance and an ineffective workenvironment. These factors should be eliminated to ensure that thecompany achieves productive results and proper customer relations. My decisions may bring about a lot of skepticism, but the result willhave to reflect the ethics and the values of the company.
Inthe event where an employee exposes the company on social media,actions can be taken by the employer. Although the freedom ofexpression is accorded to every citizen, it is also unlawful to taintthe image of a person or an organization unless one uses theacceptable avenues. In the case of John, I as the COO have the powerto discharge him of his duties. This is because Twitter and Instagramare social media sites and not platforms to raise legally sensitiveissues. The content on a social media site is open to the generalpublic. Although in most cases the user can control his audience, thecontent can still be shared among various users in the long term. Byexposing the customer to social media, John has not only violated thecompany’s policy of privacy of customers but has also violated thecustomer’s legal rights. Such an act causes mistrust of the companyby the customer, and the customer can in turn sue the company fortainting his image. This could ensue into a long legal battle betweenthe company and the customer that also lead to loss of other clientsand financial losses. With this in mind, I would have to handle thiscase with a lot of care to ensure that the company is exonerated ofall claims of false and negative exposure of the client. This givesme the legal authority to discharge John.
Thesecond case where an employee, Ellen, started a blog to dissent theCEO’s windfall is also not secured under the law. This exposes thecompany in a negative manner and affects the company’s image. Underthe First Amendment, it is legal to post about the employer on such aplatform but also makes it legal for the employer to disciplineemployees who are openly critical of the company and the employer.However, it is illegal to distribute confidential information on ablog or web page. By posting about the issue with the bonus, Ellenhas exposed confidential information of the company. By insulting thebosses as know-nothings and out-of-touch, Ellen not only spoiled theimage of the bosses but also violated their individual rights thatprotect them from insult. By law, I have the permission to punishher or relieve her of her duties.
Usingthe company’s resources for personal projects is not totallyagainst the policies. Regarding computer and devices usage, it is notentirely illegal to use the devices because the company allows forpersonal usage of such facilities. However, these activities arelimited considering the nature of the activity. For Bill, running hisown business using the company issued blackberry is not allowed. Thisis because as an employee, the company requires loyalty and having aside business could pose threat to the company. It is not illegal tohave a side business but using the company resources means that theemployee is exploiting the company for other purposes other thanthose stated by the company. However, this offense does not requireharsh punishment. A warning will be issued to Bill, and he will beexpected to stop this activity with immediate effect.
Cheeseman, H. R. (2012). The legal environment of business and online commerce. New Jersey: Prentcie Hall.
Council, I. C. (2012). North Carolina State building code, administrative code and policies. North Carolina: International Council Code.
Livingstone, L. (2010). Ethical decision making. Raleigh: Lulu.com.
Mooneyham, S. (2010). State tries to tame Amazon. Business Nort Carolina.
Nolan, H. (2013, July 11). Retrieved from www.gawker.com: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CEcQFjAGahUKEwjynIGuyPHIAhXG2BoKHXTCCC8&url=http%3A%2F%2Fgawker.com%2Fwal-mart-is-scared-of-these-true-stories-from-its-own-e-743832841&usg=AFQjCNF3v0r03t_-vetdgffhF1nibHJ