After spending some time observing the day-to-day operations of Elora Jean & Co., you have noticed a trend in employee and labor relations issues. These issues include perceived unfair treatment from managers, distress over disciplinary actions, and anxiety about new human resources (HR) policies.
Aware of the union and nonunion entities within Elora Jean & Co., you have observed that the production supervisors are unclear on the facility’s union grievance procedures, and the nonproduction supervisors are unclear on how to handle employee concerns in their offices. Employees often feel that they do not have the means to fully voice their concerns. With this level of confusion on grievance procedures, employee morale and performance has begun to decline, affecting Elora Jean & Co.’s ability to stay competitive.
As the HR consultant, you see an opportunity to educate Elora Jean & Co.’s management team on grievance practices. You decide to review guidelines on dispute resolution and grievance procedures and prepare a presentation for the company’s owner.
Prepare a presentation on developing a work climate in which grievances are a last resort and how to properly address them when they do occur. Your presentation should include the following components:
- Include recommendations on a strategy that Elora Jean & Co. can incorporate to proactively avoid grievances. Your recommendation should include a way to create an environment in which employee issues are identified and addressed before they move into a formal grievance process. Recommendations for creating positive employee relations should be discussed.
- Include recommendations for a dispute resolution process for the nonunion offices. Your proposal should include a sample procedure for nonunion employees to follow when complaints arise.
- Present step-by-step guidelines for handling grievances in the production facility. Your presentation should include recommendations for investigating complaints, working effectively with union representatives, and summarizing supervisor responsibilities. Include cautions about actions to avoid when handling grievances.
- Include a proposal for training to educate the line managers on handling grievances and avoiding grievances to ensure violations do not occur. Specifically, discuss the areas that such training should cover.
Elora Jean and Co., based in central Indiana, is a family-run manufacturing business. The company manufactures grain products for the food industry. Currently, the organization consists of a production facility that has 110 unionized production employees and 2 administration offices that have 14 nonunion employees. Elora Jean and Co. is in the process of opening a production facility in Malaysia, which will have 20 nonunion employees. Elora Jean and Co. has been operating as a sole proprietorship for 18 months.
At the start-up phase, the company owner did not forecast an exponential increase in demand for her product. Consequently, she did not apply for unemployment insurance, purchase a general liability insurance policy, or obtain a worker’s compensation policy, because she planned to use her own family members to operate the business. Over the last 13 months, however, the company has grown, in part because of its aggressive hiring strategy and need to manage production demands. In spite of the company’s rapid growth, it does not have a dedicated human resources department. Instead, the company’s owner delegated human resource administration duties to the operations manager (OM), but the OM’s knowledge of human resource policy, practice, and regulation is limited. As the company continues to expand its operation, the owner has detected an increase in employee grievance cases. The owner foresees certain legal ramifications of an undermanaged workforce because of this lack of human resource administration experience.
You are a contracted strategic human resource (HR) consultant for Elora Jean and Co. Your role, over the next 5 weeks, is to ensure that the company’s HR policies and processes comply with local, state, and federal labor statutes.
The critical areas in which you intend to focus include equal employment opportunity (EEO) staffing laws, antidiscriminatory hiring practices, foreign worker provisions, and affirmative action regulations. You will be asked to review labor laws and relevant cases, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. You are also being asked to communicate labor and employment litigation risks and solutions to the owner.
The production facility with its union representation will present additional challenges. You have had experience dealing with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in the past, and you are focused on keeping Elora Jean and Co. clear of its investigations and hearings. Therefore, you plan to review and identify management practices to minimize the risk of unfair labor practice charges. A comprehensive review of grievance procedures and labor relations practices within the context of union representation will be on your list of priorities.
Additionally, the production facility presents an increased risk for safety accidents. The owner has asked you to initiate a safety audit to ensure that Elora Jean and Co. is compliant with Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) laws. You will also review the safety records at Elora Jean and Co. to determine the company’s legal liabilities and limitations regarding its drug-free workplace policy. With the Malaysian production facility on the horizon, there will be international HR policies and regulations to consider, too. Elora Jean and Co. needs you to determine which U.S. and international HR laws might apply to the offshore operation, as well as the employer’s responsibilities to U.S. employees and non-U.S. employees working abroad.
The HR issues at Elora Jean and Co. will provide a challenging 5-week project for you, the human resource professional. The success of Elora Jean and Co. depends on your in-depth knowledge of U.S. labor laws, general knowledge of HR regulations as they apply to a global workforce, and your HR policy guidance to keep the company within its legal boundaries of human resource management.