Human Resource Management at Google by tnm75900


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									                                                                                   Alison Carr

                                                             Human Resource Management

                                      Current Issues #2

Issue #1


        The first article that I chose to review is titled “Google Faces Bizarre

Discrimination Lawsuit.” It is about a woman named Christina Elwell, former national

sales director for the dot-com company Google. Elwell filed a lawsuit in July of 2005,

alleging that the company fired her on discriminating grounds. It all began when she

experienced multiple miscarriages over a short period of time. In an attempt to reduce

stress, she told her superior, Timothy Armstrong, that she would be unable to travel any

longer for her job. Armstrong volunteered to give her a position in another branch of the

organization that did not require she travel. Elwell, seeing the alternate job as a

demotion, attempted to secure a position as the East Coast Sales Representative for

Google. The company, calling her a “Human Resource nightmare,” eventually dismissed

her from her job, prompting her lawsuit.

        A follow up article that I located from February 2006 indicated that the lawsuit

was dismissed on the grounds of Elwell’s original employment contract. Specifically,

she signed a contract stating that she would work with the company and an arbitrator

prior to filing any lawsuits, should any issues arise. A judge ruled that she had to pursue

this route prior to filing a discrimination suit.
          This is a difficult situation that clearly arises from differences in views on a

situation. Google attempted to give Elwell a comparable position that would not require

travel, but she rejected it. It is difficult to tell from this article if the position was actually

comparable, or if it was a demotion as Elwell claimed. I am also unsure of what sort of

substitute position Elwell was seeking. I believe that a good solution for everyone would

have been immediate arbitration in an attempt to reconcile the beliefs of both Google and


Issue #2

          My second current issue is from an article entitled “Fired for taking leave or

taking liberties?” The situation at hand, like in my first article, relates to firing an

employee. In this case, a woman named Lynn Hoffman had a recurring health problem

(migraines). She filed for FMLA leave several times during the time she was employed

at Professional Medical Team. Her requests were granted several times, but were also

rejected several times due to inadequate information provided by her doctor. Nearly a

year later, she again missed several days of work due to her migraines. When she

returned, PMT asked her to provide a note from her doctor saying that she was fit for

work. This had to be resubmitted several times before it was deemed satisfactory. When

she received her next paycheck and discovered she had not been paid for her sick days,

she confronted her boss. Unfortunately, the confrontation consisted largely of expletives,

and she was subsequently let go. She filed a lawsuit alleging that she was fired for

reasons relating to her medical condition.
       This is an issue, again, of the employer and employee not seeing a situation from

the same viewpoint. PMT had several options for dealing with her outburst. One would

be to accept the situation as extenuating and let her stay on board. Another option would

be to issue her a formal warning and require her to take anger management classes. The

third option, the one that they exercised, was to let her go. In this case, she was an

inconsistent employee at best, and I believe that allowing her to stay aboard would have

been a liability, as it sends the message to other employees that her behavior was


       A solution to prevent this problem would be to draft a memo outlining employee

behavior expectations. This would help clear up employee confusion regarding expected

consequences for inappropriate actions.

Issue #3


       My third and final issue is from the Dear Abby column. An employer is having

difficulties with one of her employees. The employee has attendance difficulties; she

always has conflicts when the schedule is posted, she often leaves work early or comes in

late, and she has even at times not shown up at all. When the employer confronts her

with this consistent issue, the employee gets angry and threatens to report the employer.

       The solution that Abby suggested was to first draft an employee behavior and

attendance policies, and then have all employees sign them. She suggest calling the

inconsistent employee in and making it very clear that her behavior is unacceptable and
must change, as well as reviewing the entire schedule with her to make sure everything is

understood. If necessary, a formal warning may be issued. Abby suggested that if the

behavior continues, to then let the employee go.

       My personal feeling on the issue is that shouting at an employer is never

appropriate, and if the behavior has been allowed to escalate this far, odds are not good

for a turnaround in employee behavior. I feel that it would make the most sense to let

this employee go immediately; poor attendance and anger management issues are both

good grounds for dismissing someone. After the employee is dismissed, it is definitely in

the best interests of the company to create an expected employee behavior plan.

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