Employment Law John Doe, a Senior Vice Term Paper

Pages: 5 (2029 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 16  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Business - Law

Employment Law

John Doe, a Senior Vice President with ABC Science, was traveling in a cab in Washington, D.C. when the cab was involved in a major accident. Mr. Doe was severely injured in the accident and was paralyzed from the waist down. His injury makes him unable to work at his present job, but when he requested the company reassign him to his previous position of Software Engineer, which he could perform at home, ABC told Mr. Doe they were going to terminate his employment. Mr. Doe cannot afford to retire because he has five children, three of whom are teenagers.

John Doe has at least four causes of action resulting from this situation. The first cause of action would be a workman's compensation claim against ABC. Mr. Doe was on company business traveling in a cab in Washington during business hours, performing his duties as an executive with ABC when he was injured. He was clearly injured while representing his company, and is entitled to compensation for his injuries under the workman's compensation statutes. This compensation is usually in the form of a lump sum, and may be limited by law. It is the most certain of the three courses available to him.

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The second course of action available to Mr. Doe is to file a civil suit as a tort claim for personal injury. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, there may be one or more parties liable under this claim. John's driver may have been speeding or otherwise driving negligently. He may have been intoxicated. The cab company would also be liable, as the driver was acting as an agent of the company. The other driver or drivers may also be liable. Maybe one of them was negligent. There may also be an agency issue with one or more companies caused by the action of the other drivers, depending upon the circumstances. Obviously, John's attorney will determine who has "deep pockets" and pursue an action against them.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Employment Law John Doe, a Senior Vice Assignment

A third cause of action could be pursued under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The act defines a qualified person as an individual with a disability, "who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job in question." The Act further specifies that reasonable accommodation may include, but is not limited to,

Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.

Job restructuring, modifying work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position;

Acquiring or modifying equipment or devices, adjusting modifying examinations, training materials, or policies, and providing qualified readers or interpreters.

John would seem the meet the qualifications of a disabled person and could seek redress under this law. The law further states, "an employer is required to make an accommodation to the known disability of a qualified applicant or employee if it would not impose an 'undue hardship' on the operation of the employer's business." When he requested to be reassigned to his former position of Software Engineer, John Doe requested that he be allowed to work at home. He is paralyzed from the waist down and has no control over his bladder. Working at home would allow him to perform the duties of a Software Engineer. The official reason given to Mr. Doe for not allowing him to work at home is that there is a strict company policy against this practice because of the difficulties the company has encountered with firm security from home terminals.

The fourth cause of available to John Doe would be an age discrimination lawsuit against ABC Science under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). This is the most tenuous of the three claims and most difficult to prove. "Age can not be a factor in making any decisions about workers. This includes decisions about hiring, pay, promotions, or layoffs." John is 57 years old. Mr. Doe had previously occupied the position of Software Engineer with ABC. He was very successful in this position, but it has been ten years since his promotion to Vice President. Following John's request to be reassigned to his previous position, the President of ABC confided to several other ABC personnel that the job of Software Engineer is not suitable for someone who is not "up-to-date" on today's more sophisticated software. This opinion of the President of the company was not communicated directly to John. In John's favor is the fact that he has an excellent record since his promotion.

There are certain procedures that John Doe would need to follow in his case. Worker's Compensation claims must be filed with the appropriate board for the state in which the company is located. The personal injury claim would require a civil lawsuit to be filed in the appropriate jurisdiction.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is charged with enforcement of the ADA. "Complaints regarding actions that occurred on or after July 26, 1992, may be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or designated State human rights agencies." In the case of the ADEA, the procedures require filing a complaint with the EEOC within 180 days of the alleged incident.

In considering any defenses which ABC Sciences may have against actions brought against them, we need to consider only the third and fourth causes above. In cases one and two this would not apply. The first is a workman's compensation claim and the second would be a cause of action against a third party, such as the cab company or the driver of the automobile causing the accident. Thus we will consider defenses only against causes three and four.

In defending itself against the claim under the ADA, ABC should focus on two particular areas. It is clear that John Doe is a qualified individual under the requirements of the act, so to focus on that area would not be fruitful. The first area that the company should focus on would be the requirement that the company make a reasonable effort to accommodation for the disabled individual. Reasonable accommodation is defined as, any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions. Reasonable accommodation also includes adjustments to assure that a qualified individual with a disability has rights and privileges in employment equal to those of employees without disabilities.

However, the employer is not required to make any modification that would, "impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business. Undue hardship is defined as an action requiring significant difficulty or expense." Possible defenses in this are might be that allowing the disabled employee to work out of his or her home work not be a reasonable accommodation due to the security issues.

A second area on which a company should focus would be the lack of any requirement that the company adjust the standards for the particular job to accommodate a disabled individual. "An employer can hold employees with disabilities to the same standards of production/performance as other similarly situated employees without disabilities for performing essential job functions, with or without reasonable accommodation." In the case of Mr. Doe, ten years has elapsed since he was employed as a Software Engineer, and there is a reasonable expectation that his skills may have deteriorated in regard to those particular skill sets required by the job.

The fourth cause of action would be under the ADEA. Actions under this statute are increasing and corporations are faced with the prospect of huge outlays to fight these claims or risk the possibility of a large damage award.

In an age discrimination case, the employee can sue for emotional distress and punitive damages. These are subjective, and are really up to the jury. Here, the jurors' emotions are the most important factor. Empathy is important to jurors. A juror who can see herself in the same position as the person suing is understandably more likely to award higher damages.

John Doe is 57 and thus meets the age limit under the statute. The President of the company is on record making comments about Mr. Doe regarding him not being up-to-date on today's more sophisticated software. These circumstances give the appearance of discrimination. A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision makes these claims easier to prove.

A major obstacle in prevailing in an age discrimination lawsuit is the question of harm. In this case, John Doe should have no problem in demonstrating harm. He was fired by the company and has no other means of support. A more fruitful area of attack for the company in defending itself would be to stress that Mr. Doe was fired because the company did not believe that he could perform the duties of a Software Engineer. The company should stress the fact that he has not been in that job position for more than ten years, and that the position requires an individual to stay current with modern sophisticated… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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