Discuss whether the facts in this case support the employee’s position that his termination constituted an unlawful labor practice. 

RMD 620

Week 3

Exam #1

Note: Submissions will not be accepted after grades for this assignment have been posted.  Alternate assignments are not available.

This early assignment should give you a chance to check your understanding of the course material so you can change, if needed, before the semester progresses too far. This test is not intended to cover all the key points about the material you’ve read in the first three weeks; the reading material we’ve had so far may also be included in following, more extensive tests.

Instructions:  Each class is likely to be different.  If you assume you know what is required, you may make a mistake that can be avoided just by reading the instructions.

  • Post your Answer Sheet in your individual assignment folder by the due date listed in the Course Schedule.  Please post on time to avoid the 5% per day late penalty required by departmental policy.  Remember the late window begins at 12:00 a.m. the next day. Please don’t ask me after the deadline to waive a late penalty. If you’re having a problem that matches the criteria in the grading policy, contact me before the deadline.  I help when I can. (See the Grading Information in the syllabus.)
  • Please work alone; this is not a group assignment.
  • Do not use any work that has been submitted to a previous class.  (See the Grading Information in the syllabus.  This is also part of the Academic Integrity pledge you signed.)
  • Do not use a cover sheet. Just be sure your name is on the Answer Sheet. The blank Answer Sheet is in the Course Content area, in the same place as the exam.
  • Remember to use a Word .doc or .docx file format to ensure I can open your work.  (See the Grading Information in the syllabus.)
  • Please do not retype the information or annotate your multiple-choice response.  Any confusion in the answer will be interpreted as an error. Just list the response by the number on the Answer Sheet.
  • Please do use APA to reference your essay/case response. Create a reference list at the end and use the (author, year) format within the text; or, if it is a direct quote, the (author, year, page number) format.  Please do not start a new page only for the reference list; just space down after your last response.
  • Please realize that I cannot answer questions that are actually part of the test itself.  That violates testing methodology.  I can address “administrative type” questions. Post questions to the Exam 1 discussion area (vs. email) so everyone will have the same information.
  • Please be sure you have submitted the document you intended. Double-check by opening your document in your folder after you’ve submitted it.

Tips for Success

Be sure you have answered all the questions.  From time to time, I see students number incorrectly or omit questions.

Allow sufficient time to think, revise, and think again about your answers before producing the final document.  As soon as you have the exam, read what is needed.  During the week, think about how to answer the questions.  Jot down ideas to consider.  Create an outline of the content you want to include in the written portion.  Then, assemble the parts into a coherent response.

Use the free writing support tools that are accessed via the classroom.  Allow enough time for the writing tutors to assist.  Access to that service is in the Content area.

Part A – Knowledge Check  (20% of the test; 2 points each)

  1. T or F:  The National Labor Relations Act applies to non-union companies.
  2. T or F:  As the primary union in the U.S., the key function of the AFL-CIO is to negotiate contracts.
  3. T or F:  The Mainstream Economics school of thought about labor relations relies on free-market competition to determine the price of labor; and, as such, sees unions as interference in that process.
  4. T of F:  The Wagner Act governs labor relations for United Airlines.
  5. T or F:  Unions seek to give equity and voice a place in decisions that might otherwise be driven by efficiency.
  6. T or F:  The Haymarket Tragedy was part of the struggle for an 8-hour workday.
  7. T or F:  In the U.S., the default policy for the employment relationship is the employment-at-will doctrine; but, federal policy also encourages the use of collective bargaining which limits it.

8. T or F:  Overall union density has decreased since the 1970s because the private sector

growth has increased while the public sector membership has declined.

9. T or F:  Current U.S. labor law is based on the assumption that a balance between

management’s and labor’s power benefits society in general.

10. T or F:  Property rights are a major basis for management’s authority and control.

Part B – Case Analysis (18% of the test; 3 points each)

  1. Earl’s supervisor instructed him to write the monthly report for the county government’s Agency for Municipal Parks. Feeling overworked, he complained to Matt, a peer with the same job classification. Earl remarked that this was beyond the scope of his job description. Matt agreed.  He said that funding for the county’s public parks programs was cut in the last election, so everyone was being asked to double-up on responsibilities.  Earl suggested calling a meeting of all the Assistants in the department to see what could be done.

    T or F:  The concerted activity provision of NLRA Section 7 would protect this group of Assistants if they encountered retaliation for challenging the supervisor’s direction.

  2. Six workers in a retail store were in the break room discussing the raise they expected to receive next month.  They noted that it was not as much as last year’s raise.  They wondered how they could request an increase and agreed to work together to find a way.  They lowered their voices when the HR Director came in for a cup of coffee because discussing people’s compensation was against company policy.

    Two weeks later, the 6 workers were terminated.  They were the only employees to be let go.  They were surprised and began to compare notes.  They knocked on the HR Director’s door to ask for an explanation.  The HR Director explained that the company appreciated their contributions but reminded them that, as they acknowledged when they were hired, their employment was at-will.  That meant the company did not need to give a reason and there was nothing more to be done.

    T or F:  The HR Director’s explanation that the state’s employment-at-will doctrine will be the legal framework to govern this scenario was correct.

  3. Erin and 3 of her co-workers have a standard set of lotto numbers that they collectively play each week.  If they ever match the winning ticket, they will split the money.
    On her Facebook page, Erin posts that she can’t wait to win so she can quit work.  The  others respond in agreement.

    T or F:  If management fired them for gambling at work, the NLRA Section 7 concerted activity provision would protect this group.

  4. When the manager of business operations told Paula that she had to work on the night shift at the retail store for the next few months, she left him a note saying this was unfair and she would not do it.  The manager called her the next day to see why she objected.  Paula said she did not have someone to look after her child at night.  The manager replied that she was the last one to be hired and she would have to make arrangements to do it.  Paula said this was discrimination, and the discussion became heated.  The manager fired her.

    T or F:  If Paula filed a complaint under the NLRA, the Section 7 concerted activity provision would protect her.

  5. When the owner of an urgent care company announced to his staff of 10 that he would immediately cut wages by 10% to save the business from bankruptcy, employees were stunned and unhappy.  After several conversations, they decided to write a joint, anonymous, respectful letter to express staff concerns and offer alternatives for saving
    money, such as eliminating the employer match to the 401K fund.  The letter was written by the center’s physician’s assistant and edited by its radiation technologist. It was then left unsigned on the doctor’s desk.  During the next few weeks, the owner met with individual employees in an attempt to learn who wrote the letter,
    and the atmosphere became increasingly tense. He accused several employees of whispering and cliquish behavior, and repeatedly complained of “toxic talk” and negativity”.  A little over three weeks after the letter was delivered, the technologist was fired.  The owner then learned by examining the technologist’s work emails that the physician’s assistant had written the letter. The next day, she was fired as well.

    T or F:  The letter meets the legal criteria for a concerted activity.

  6. Brittney transferred to HR a couple months ago from an assistant’s position in the marketing department.  Her first major assignment has been to update the employee handbook.  She has been gathering examples from other organizations to copy into her draft.  Here is one she is recommending because it seems clear and specific.  It easy to understand.

    Unauthorized Interviews: As a means of protecting yourself and the company, no unauthorized interviews are permitted to be conducted by individuals representing themselves as attorneys, peace officers, investigators, reporters, union representatives, or someone who wants to “ask a few questions.” If you are asked questions about the company or its current or former employees, you are not permitted to speak as a representative of the company. Please refer that individual(s) to your supervisor. A decision will then be made as to whether that individual may conduct any interview and they will be introduced to you by your supervisor with a reason for the questioning. Similarly, if you are aware that an unauthorized interview is occurring at the company, immediately notify your supervisor.

    T or F:  Having this rule is illegal under the June, 2018 NLRB’s guidelines.

Part C  – Case Analysis (62% of the test)

In the case below, an employee files a Section 8(a)1 complaint with the NLRB against his employer for firing him.  The employer asserts that it has terminated the employee lawfully.  After reading the facts of the case, explain what the decision should be (who should win). Also explain any remedies that are needed. Be sure to identify the legal concepts involved and use details from the case to show evidence in support of your position. Please limit your analysis to 2-3 double-spaced pages.

Tip – Consider:

  1. What is the employee’s argument?  Why does he think he was fired?  In his view, which specific provision in the NLRA was broken?  What does the provision require? Using the NLRA requirements, discuss whether the facts in this case support the employee’s position that his termination constituted an unlawful labor practice.
  2. What is the employer’s argument? Why did it fire the employee? Does the NLRA prohibit that reason? Using the NLRA requirements, discuss whether the facts in this case support the employer’s decision to terminate the employee.
  3. As the NLRB judge, who do you think is right? Which side has the right reason, legal framework, and details (evidence) to support its interpretation of the law?
  4. If a violation occurred, what needs to be done to correct it? (This is the remedy.)