ABC Health, Inc., a company with 75 employees in Batesville, Arkansas, hired Alice Taft (an African American woman) on October 12, 2013 as a full-time employee. She worked 40 hours per week, at least 1250 hours every year. ABC Health, Inc. is a large company within the healthcare industry and have a varied workforce. When Taft was hired, York provided her with a company handbook, which discussed FMLA. Also, York posted a FMLA notice provided by the Department of Labor.
Alice received glowing performance evaluations every year and was awarded incentive bonuses for her outstanding work in both 2014 and 2015.
On May 3, 2016, Alice found out she was pregnant and was quite surprised as she at the advanced age of 41. Her first trimester was tough as she experienced severe morning sickness and complications. She asked her supervisor Paul if there was anything she could do about the time she was missing. She felt bad about being late to work or missing for doctor appointments but was willing to do whatever it took to meet her deadlines and be a team player. Paul told her not to worry about it because they would just work around her scheduling needs.
By July 30th, Alice had missed 15 days of work due to maternity appointments and complications that required her to be limited in her activity. She had also been tardy consistently on the days she was at work due to morning sickness. However, her workload was the same as it always had been. As a result, her productivity had decreased, and she was struggling to keep up with her work and meet deadlines. However, her 1st trimester was now complete, and she was experiencing much better health. She had not missed any work or been late to work in 2 weeks.
The company was making financial decisions and decided that it was time to restructure some of the operations, which would result in layoffs. After reviewing the records and looking at each department, ABC Health, Inc. decided how each group would be reorganized. It was determined that Alice’s department of 10 would need to be cut down to 7 employees. Fearing his job might be in jeopardy, Paul (Alice’s supervisor) decided to go to work at his family’s farm and submitted his letter of resignation. ABC Health, Inc. decided the best course of action would be to promote one of the existing employees into the manager position and only lay-off 2 employees.
When reviewing for the promotion, Alice’s file was brought to upper management. Upper management wanted to pass on Alice and give the promotion to Steve, a 37-year-old white man who had just been hired July 2015. There was discussion about Alice’s rapid decline in productivity and efficiency. They also discussed her numerous absences, noting “and you know it will only get worst once her baby is actually born.” Steve, on the other hand, management noted “we don’t have to worry about his family because his wife is a stay-at-home mom and his kids are almost grown.”
The more they discussed and compared Alice and Steven, upper management soon started thinking that Alice should be one of the employee that was laid off due to her performance within the last 3 months. They decide to bring their proposed decision to the human resource manager before taking any action.
You are the human resources manager for ABC Health, Inc. What is the company’s potential liability if upper management decided to promote Steve instead of Alice? What is the company’s potential liability if it is decided that Alice should be laid off? How would you advise management? Explain your answer.