It is the morning of December 23, 2016. One of your company’s supervisors, Ricky Ricardo, has come to see you in Human Resources. He is trying to sort out a few things before he leaves for the Christmas weekend. With some turnover and other workers taking off time for travel during the holidays, his program is understaffed and he is dealing with a host of issues with his remaining employees: Gianna, Fred, Ethel, and Lucie.
Ricky says he is pulling his hair out with Gianna. He says she should know what her job is and how to do it, but she comes to him with questions every day and can’t seem to do her job independently. Just yesterday, she allowed a deadline for an report pass. Ricky is really upset, and he wants to discipline Gianna for not getting the report submitted by the deadline. Ricky is floating the idea to senior management that they replace Gianna with an independent contractor. Ricky otherwise would have to pay overtime to Gianna and the others if he were to require them to work these same hours (plus, they gripe and complain).
What do you think about Ricky's proposal to replace Gianna with an independent contractor?
An independent contractor, Ethel, has filled in extremely well for a retired employee she replaced. Ethel comes to work on time, always has her company-issued uniform pressed and looking professional, and she is always completing her work ahead of the deadline. Ricky says Ethel is his best worker, and outshines the other staff who do the exact same work. Ricky called IT to upgrade her computer last week, so she’s particularly happy right now. Her hourly rate isn’t too high, either, and she never complains about working late nights and long hours. Ricky loves that he can work Ethel extra hours each week without having to pay overtime, too.
Do you recognize any issues with this working relationship?
Ricky is worried about one of his supervisors, Fred. Fred has been dealt a lousy hand lately. After they fired one of Fred’s employees, two others abruptly quit. This left Fred with only two employees (but the same level of work to complete). Coincidently, the company has received some large, unexpected expenses and the operating budget is really tight now. In fact, there is a company-wide hiring freeze at the moment. So, Fred has been doing a lot of the work that his former employees left behind. What used to be a decent work-life balance for Fred has turned into consistent 12-hour work days, with occasional Saturday hours, too. Fred has begun grumbling that he deserves a raise from his lousy salary of $35,000, or else he will look for a new job. Ricky has told him there’s no money for that right now, but to “hang in there” until things get better.
What would you recommend in terms of Fed's situation, including the workload, schedule, and compensation?
As if things weren’t already bad, one of Ricky’s employees who used to be really dependable is all over the place with her time off lately. Lucie – a longtime employee who rarely took a day off – has been missing from the office for a few months. Back on October 3rd, Lucie initially called out sick with what she described as a cold and a bad headache. She ended up needing to stay out a couple more days because she said she wasn’t feeling any better. Ricky recalls hearing from her at the end of the week, and that she said something about developing a fever and even spending a night in the hospital to get better. The following week, she sent over some paperwork asking for extended medical leave, but Ricky didn’t know what he was supposed to do with it. He brought the forms with him and suggested putting them in Lucie’s medical file. He’s been waiting for her to come back to work, and has been very patient with her.
How would you handle this medical leave situation under the FMLA?
Ricky got a phone call this morning from Lucie that really upset him. After all of this time of being out, Lucie says she needs an additional 2 weeks to fully recover from a condition that was making it difficult for her to concentrate, sit, stand, or otherwise perform her job duties. Then, in 2 weeks, she wants to come back on a part-time schedule and work from home the rest of the time because the chair she has at home has a back support that makes her feel better. If that weren’t enough, she says she will need to take frequent bathroom breaks, and will need the company to purchase a standing work station with a new computer with special features that will magnify items on her computer screen and help her do her work (she has identified a top-of-the-line product that will cost at least $40,000).
How would you address Lucie's request for some additional leave under the FMLA and ADA?
History of National Labor Relations Board
National Labor Relations Act
Dept of Labor Collective Bargaining Agreements on file
West Virginia to Become 26th Right-to-Work State
Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (as amended in 2011), §§ 206(a)(Minimum wage), 207(Work hours / Overtime), 213(Exemptions), 216(Penalties)
FLSA Overtime Rule Resources (SHRM)
DOL Considering Rule on Portable Devices
E-Mail Curfew May Help Newly Nonexempt Employees Adjust
What are disparate impact and disparate treatment? (SHRM)
Family & Medical Leave Act
Should I Be An Employee Or An Independent Contractor?
IRS guidance on Independent Contractors
DOL Administrator’s Interpretation No. 2015-1
SHRM’s Behavioral Competencies
Reduce the Legal Risks of Performance Review
Justin Kruger and David Dunning: “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments”