Case 09

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1. Given the facts of this case, should John have been discharged? Why or why not?

2. Should the sales representatives of AEM be held to a higher standard of personal conduct than sales representatives for other types of organizations? Explain.

3. Should management have considered John’s past work record before deciding on discharge? Explain.

Case Study 9 – Discharged for Off-Duty Behavior

Textbook Chapter 13 Case Study 1 p. 530

The following case illustrates the off-duty privacy claim of an employee and
management’s right to uphold the reputation of the company.

Before his termination on Monday, May 6, 2014, John Hilliard worked as a senior sales
representative for Advanced Educational Materials (AEM), a provider of high-quality
educational books and supplies to junior and senior high schools. During his 12 years
of employment, John was recognized as an outstanding employee with close working
relationships with the schools he served. His sales record was excellent. John’s
discharge resulted from what AEM claimed was a serious breach of its code of conduct
for employees.

On Saturday, May 4, 2014, due to a chance meeting between John and his manager,
Jean Ellison, John was observed leaving an adult video store carrying what his
manager described as pornographic magazines and an X-rated video. The following
Monday, Jean discussed the incident with AEM’s vice president for sales and a
representative from HR. All agreed that John’s off-duty behavior constituted a serious
violation of the company’s code of conduct for employees, which read, in part,
“Employee off-duty behavior in no way should reflect unfavorably upon the company, its
employees, or sales of any educational materials.” AEM has traditionally held its sales
representatives to high moral standards because the company sells extensively to
public school administrators and teachers.

At his discharge meeting, John vigorously opposed his firing. While he acknowledged
making the purchases, he argued strongly that what he did on his personal time was “no
business of the company’s” and his behavior in no way reflected unfavorably upon AEM
or the sales of its products. Besides, he said, “The purchases were made as jokes for a
stag party.”

Questions

1. Given the facts of this case, should John have been discharged? Why or why
not?

2. Should the sales representatives of AEM be held to a higher standard of
personal conduct than sales representatives for other types of organizations?
Explain.

3. Should management have considered John’s past work record before deciding
on discharge? Explain.

Source: This case is based on an actual termination for off-duty misconduct. All names are
fictitious

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