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Business & Society

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Do you think Betty was wrongly discharged or that she was legitimately dismissed under the notion of employment at will?

 Betty was not wrongly discharged.  She had admitted that there was not actually documentation or agreement that left her in a permanent job position.  In other words, not contractual agreement for permanent job placement had been made between Betty and WNH.  This is a clear example of employment at will.  Betty knew that without a contract or some type of job guarantee that she could be dismissed from her position at any time.  She was also not in a more prestigious position within the hospital which in any rational and legal mind would indicate that her nurse helper’s position would be one of the first to go if cut backs were eminent.

 Do you think based on the evidence presented; that the company did enough to clearly establish that an employee could be fired for reasons not listed in the employee handbook?

 I believe that the inside cover of the handbook is suffice evidence in itself and that page 20 is not even needed.  It clearly states that by the handbook being presented to someone that it is not a guarantee of a job position.  Handbooks are considered mere reference tools and not job contracts in the legal sense.  As far as page 20 goes, Betty should have known under a simple common sense judgment that she did not have a binding contract for employment that gave her a job guarantee.  This also means that she could be terminated at any time, and that the handbook or any page in it would not help her to keep her job position.  Despite whether or not the exact reason of her termination was listed, matters not in a court of law.  The state laws themselves were fluid with the company reasons for termination with regards to not having to be specific about the termination, and that it could be done at any time for no reason.

 In your opinion, did the fact that the nursing home gave Betty the option of resigning or being fired constitute outrageous conduct that intentionally or recklessly caused her severe emotional distress?  Why do you think WNH gave Betty this choice?

 I do not think that the intentions of WNH were any way meant to harm Betty.  Actually, by giving her a choice, it could help her a lot in finding a new job elsewhere.  Under the social security and unemployment system in the United States, it is easier to get unemployment wages if you are fired.  However, by taking the choice of resigning it looks better on her resume to a perspective employer; and she could have asked for a letter of recommendation.  Perspective employers view individuals who have been fired from their job positions as threatening to them in the long run.  It basically means that the individual did something to wrong the prior company they were with.  But, by giving Betty the choice, she could decide whether she wanted to take some time off and collect unemployment, or actively and more affectively seek a new job position.

What should WNH do?  Should it maintain its position with the respect to the dismissal of Betty or should it rethink its position?  What implications does this case have for the relationship between employer and employee at WNH?

 WNH should maintain its position.  They were clear in their intentions to Betty and never guaranteed her a long term position in writing or verbally.  WNH did nothing wrong and should not have to justify itself to Betty when state law is the same with their employment regulations.  If Betty does not think that a business has the right to terminate employment at will, then she should be suing the state and not WNH.

Most of the full-time employment staff at WNH should already be aware of the company at will policy and should be comfortable with the decision.  Most companies like WNH do not share their profit or any other confidential information openly with others.  This may raise an eyebrow by employees who became friends with Betty or members of the company grapevine, but damage control can always be done by management to rectify the situation.  WNH could benefit by sending a memorandum to employees reiterating the terms of employment by WNH and the state to remind them of the status of employment.


  1. Carroll (1996). Business & Society 3rd Ed. Cincinnati, OH: South-Western, p.763.
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