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Question:
 
NewCorp Legal Scenarios
 
The following legal encounters involve NewCorp, your employer. You are required to provide
 
a brief answer to questions asked at the end of each encounter. Your supervisor expects a
 
substantive answer, not a recommendation to refer matters to an attorney. Your supervisor does
 
not want to spend money on legal advice until after you provide an assessment.
 
NewCorp hired Pat as manager of real property in Vermont. This position is responsible for
 
activities related to maintaining leased office space. Pat supervised 51 employees and lower-level
 
supervisors, and he dealt with tenants who leased commercial space. Pat relocated from another
 
city 300 miles away, moved his family, and sold and bought a home. His wife quit her job to seek
 
employment in Vermont.
 
After Pat worked for three months with NewCorp, his supervisor explained that things were not
 
working out and that Pat would be discharged with 30 days of severance pay. Pat was surprised
 
because his employer gave no previous indication of any problem. NewCorp’s personnel manual,
 
which had been provided to Pat upon his acceptance of employment, outlined the process for
 
dealing with unsatisfactory employees:
 
Notice of Unsatisfactory Performance/Corrective Action Plan
 
If the job performance of an employee is unsatisfactory, the employee will be notified of the
 
deficiency and placed on a corrective action plan. If the employee’s performance does not
 
improve to a satisfactory level in the specified time period, termination will follow.
 
Pat acknowledged that he signed a document to show his understanding that the company
 
observed employment at will with respect to discharge, but he believed the provision limited
 
NewCorp’s freedom to discharge him at will. Pat also stated that NewCorp’s senior management
 
was noticeably unfriendly after Pat had been vocal at a local school board meeting. His position
 
on an issue in the meeting was unpopular, and although no one at the meeting identified Pat as a
 
NewCorp employee, he believed this contributed to the decision to discharge him.
 
Running Head: LEGAL LIABILITIES 2
 
What liabilities and rights do NewCorp and Pat have in this situation? What legal principles, such
 
as statutory or case law, support those liabilities and rights?
 
NewCorp employed Sam as a supervisor of electrical manufacturing for automotive underdash wiring harnesses. Sam’s department employed about 100 men and women to create the
 
wiring and connect it to different universal couplings so that speedometers, oil gauges, and
 
other instruments would work. The final product, an under-dash wiring harness, was sent to the
 
assembly plant for installation.
 
Sam developed a relationship with one of his employees, Paula, and they began dating. Paula
 
later ended the relationship with Sam. Sam wanted to continue dating Paula, and he began
 
exhibiting unwelcome behaviors, even after she told him to stop. Sam suggested that Paula’s
 
work might be suffering from a lack of interest.
 
Paula decided she could no longer work with Sam and applied for a transfer to the wire-coating
 
department, which was not under his control. Sam blocked the transfer, citing evidence that
 
chemicals used in wire coatings could harm an early-state fetus. Because Paula could become
 
pregnant, Sam argued, NewCorp could not take the chance of being liable for causing a child to
 
be born with a birth defect. Paula believed this was Sam’s way of controlling her and that, even if
 
it was not, it was illegal discrimination.
 
What liability does NewCorp have in this situation? What actions might NewCorp take? Identify
 
which legal principles, such as statutory or case law, support your responses.
 
NewCorp employed Paul as a senior maintenance technician, which required him to work in
 
confined spaces to repair equipment. Repairing the pulp shredder was particularly difficult
 
because the space where Paul worked was narrow. After an employee was injured when working
 
on the machine, NewCorp attempted to relocate it to create more space, but nearby building
 
support beams did not allow for relocation.
 
Running Head: LEGAL LIABILITIES 3
 
Paul refused to work on the machine, saying that the work space was too confining and
 
dangerous. The NewCorp safety manager reviewed the area and deemed it safe. Paul said he
 
became claustrophobic because of working in such confined spaces, and this condition arose
 
from his employment. This statement makes the situation a worker compensation issue. Paul
 
called the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to complain about NewCorp
 
requiring him to work in a dangerous situation. In addition to calling OSHA, Paul threatened to
 
get a lawyer and sue NewCorp. Management was not sure what legal principles apply to the
 
circumstances in this situation.
 
What specific regulatory compliance issues arise in this scenario? How should NewCorp address
 
those issues? How should NewCorp manage the legal risk associated with those issues?

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