Deliverable Length: 1,500–2,000 words, excluding APA format sources (minimum 2, preferably 3+)
In the last few weeks as a human resources (HR) consultant at Elora Jean & Co., you have reviewed several issues, made recommendations, and developed policies. In addition to the issues previously reviewed, the owner has advised you of the following situation:
A charge was recently filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by an employee. The charge states that two female employees in one of the nonunion satellite offices were subject to repeated and unwelcome sexual advances by their male supervisor. The charge further states that the two women previously complained to the supervisor’s immediate superior, letting him know that they felt uncomfortable and would like the behavior to stop. The harassment did not stop; rather, it continued over a period of 3 months. At that point, the female employees decided that the company would not help. They decided to file a claim with the EEOC, stating they were being sexually harassed at work.
The owner is certain that the company can put together a response that will clear it of the charge, and she asked if you felt they had a strong case. You state that you are not legal counsel for Elora Jean & Co.; however, you request permission to investigate the claim before giving your thoughts on the company’s documentation for legal defense.
Given your knowledge of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, you are concerned with Elora Jean & Co.’s ability to defend the EEOC charge. You plan to engage in your own investigation into the claim to learn more about the complaints made, who had knowledge, what type of investigation was conducted (if any), and what actions were taken. As part of your investigation, you learn that Elora Jean & Co. does not have any policies or procedures relating to sexual harassment in the workplace.
You need to address and advise the owner of Elora Jean & Co. on courses of action. Present your evaluation in a written memo to the owner. As you prepare your strategy for investigating the claim, consider the following:
- What is the legal definition of sexual harassment?
- What investigation process should Elora Jean & Co. have engaged in when the claims were first made? Why will that be important to the defense of the EEOC charge?
- What is the legal liability for Elora Jean & Co. if the EEOC investigation finds the charge to be factual with employer knowledge of the events? Consider the options of mediation versus litigation with regard to organizational cost.
- What elements would you recommend be included in a sexual harassment policy?
- What should Elora Jean & Co. do to prevent this type of charge in the future?
- Research and briefly summarize a recent case of sexual harassment that was won by the employee. Provide information relating to the financial outcome of the case.
- What implications does the Civil Rights Act of 1991 have for employers?
- What are your overall recommendations for the owner with regard to preparing a response to the EEOC charge?
Extra background info (please read):
Elora Jean and Co., based in central Indiana, is a family-run manufacturing business. The company manufactures grain products for the food industry. Currently, the organization consists of a production facility that has 110 unionized production employees and 2 administration offices that have 14 nonunion employees. Elora Jean and Co. is in the process of opening a production facility in Malaysia, which will have 20 nonunion employees. Elora Jean and Co. has been operating as a sole proprietorship for 18 months.
At the start-up phase, the company owner did not forecast an exponential increase in demand for her product. Consequently, she did not apply for unemployment insurance, purchase a general liability insurance policy, or obtain a worker’s compensation policy, because she planned to use her own family members to operate the business. Over the last 13 months, however, the company has grown, in part because of its aggressive hiring strategy and need to manage production demands. In spite of the company’s rapid growth, it does not have a dedicated human resources department. Instead, the company’s owner delegated human resource administration duties to the operations manager (OM), but the OM’s knowledge of human resource policy, practice, and regulation is limited. As the company continues to expand its operation, the owner has detected an increase in employee grievance cases. The owner foresees certain legal ramifications of an undermanaged workforce because of this lack of human resource administration experience.
You are a contracted strategic human resource (HR) consultant for Elora Jean and Co. Your role, over the next 5 weeks, is to ensure that the company’s HR policies and processes comply with local, state, and federal labor statutes.
The critical areas in which you intend to focus include equal employment opportunity (EEO) staffing laws, antidiscriminatory hiring practices, foreign worker provisions, and affirmative action regulations. You will be asked to review labor laws and relevant cases, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. You are also being asked to communicate labor and employment litigation risks and solutions to the owner.
The production facility with its union representation will present additional challenges. You have had experience dealing with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in the past, and you are focused on keeping Elora Jean and Co. clear of its investigations and hearings. Therefore, you plan to review and identify management practices to minimize the risk of unfair labor practice charges. A comprehensive review of grievance procedures and labor relations practices within the context of union representation will be on your list of priorities.
Additionally, the production facility presents an increased risk for safety accidents. The owner has asked you to initiate a safety audit to ensure that Elora Jean and Co. is compliant with Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) laws. You will also review the safety records at Elora Jean and Co. to determine the company’s legal liabilities and limitations regarding its drug-free workplace policy. With the Malaysian production facility on the horizon, there will be international HR policies and regulations to consider, too. Elora Jean and Co. needs you to determine which U.S. and international HR laws might apply to the offshore operation, as well as the employer’s responsibilities to U.S. employees and non-U.S. employees working abroad.
The HR issues at Elora Jean and Co. will provide a challenging 5-week project for you, the human resource professional. The success of Elora Jean and Co. depends on your in-depth knowledge of U.S. labor laws, general knowledge of HR regulations as they apply to a global workforce, and your HR policy guidance to keep the company within its legal boundaries of human resource management.