Warren Whisenant, University of Miami
Joseph Kavanaugh, Sam Houston State University
The case highlights the many human resources issues that challenge small business owners,
including the sensitivity of conducting business in a predominantly ethnic community. Among the
issues raised are job abandonment, willful misconduct, employee theft, hostile work environment,
hiring practices, termination practices, progressive discipline, the importance of clearly
promulgated employee policies, and constructive discharge. The case is appropriate for use
primarily with undergraduate and graduate courses studying Human Resources Management in a
small family owned business.
Lauren’s Wardrobe is one of two stores owned and managed by Kelly Brown. The stores
are located in a heavily Hispanic border community in Texas. Kelly employs eight to twelve
employees depending on seasonal demand. One afternoon, three of the four employees in both
stores walk off the job, leaving one store abandoned, and the other covered by only one employee.
The precipitating event seems to be prejudicial comments made by Kelly’s mother (not officially an
employee) regarding the Hispanic employees, and her conduct toward them. After addressing the
immediate issues of covering the stores until closing, Kelly talks with her one remaining employee,
Rosie, who gives Kelly insight into the conditions faced by her employees. Now, Kelly must decide
what actions to take before the stores reopen the next day.
Kelly’s Tuesday afternoon quickly went from bad to worse. She learned that her two
boutiques were open but not st