Employment-at-will is a legal rule, giving employers’ unfettered power to “dismiss their employees at will for good cause, no cause, or even for cause morally wrong, without being thereby guilty of a legal wrong.” (Halbert & Ingulli pg.49) In the first scenario where employee is unable to learn the computer applications that are basic to her job responsibilities and even after few months of training there is no change in productivity and is efficient to complete the required tasks; then based on employment-at-will doctrine she was legally terminated. The employer had a legal right even though the reason was specified that the employee will only be terminated for not performing the job successfully ("National conference of," 2012). Also, the employee who was discharged cannot sue the company that she was discharged because the employer did not like her or due to her being female, as the Federal Legislative protections (including Title VII of 1964 of Civil Rights) protects from the wrongful discharge based on race, religion, sex, age and national origin (Muhl, 2001).
Monitoring the progress and documenting is very important when the employee is not performing the job functions that he/she is required to perform. The supervisor should issue a 45 day probationary review first to focus on the areas of improvement and see what else can be done to help the employee progress and improve. If the 45 day review is not satisfactory then a 90 day probationary review should be issued and within this period, an extensive training should be given and once the training is completed then a test should be issued in order to track the improvement. The employee could not still perform the job efficiently and according to the company standards then those instances should be brought into employee’s attention and documentation should be shown. The verbal and written warnings signed by the supervisor, HR and the employee prove the grounds of termination. Documentation is the main element.
Jennifer, being in the accounting position, her mistakes could have caused problems not only for employers but also for the clients. She was hired on the basis of her education and in the expectation that she will perform the job effectively and efficiently. She was expected to improve after providing a training and support by the employer. The employer could have prevented this problem, if they would have conducted the pre-employment testing like skills and knowledge test prior to hiring. All documents like interview notes, reviews, warnings and training record should be saved in her file for future reference.
The second scenario regarding employee’s attendance and behavioral issues again like first scenario allows management to legally terminate the employee. The employee’s discharge was not wrongful because under the public policy exception to employment at-will, an employee is wrongfully discharged when the termination is against an explicit, well-established public policy of the State (Muhl, 2001). The companies have set their own policies that are noted in employee handbook and orientation. First of all, the company should have monitored her attendance every month throughout the course of her employment. They should have set policy of certain amount of lateness like two per month are allowed anything beyond that will result in to taking an action that can lead up to termination. So any lateness or absences should be documented in the employee’s file and should take an action accordingly. If the employee is so defensive when the management brought the issue to her attention, each instance should be documented and witnessed by some Human Resource personnel. The defensive nature and comments about public policy of the employee shows the red flag about the employee’s future with the company. Management should make Human Resources Manager aware of the comments and behavioral issues of the employee as the end result will be lawsuit