Grading Rubric for Cases


Your grade is a combination of the following elements:


1. Appropriate length of answer. One paragraph per question answered. Individual question minimum of 3 well-structured sentences in 12 point font.


2. Identification of correct human resource or management topic.


3. Full quality answers which include research to determine how to apply standards, regulations, or laws covering human resources. These cases require you to research current federal employment law, regulations, and issues in order to answer them correctly.  Review “Website resources” tab. Also you can google topics, laws, cases, etc.


4. Correct notation of sources listed at the bottom of each answered case. You should list the textbook and any websites or other resources you used; cite direct quotes from sources in parenthesis and put (author’s last name, page #).

Case #76 “Managing Nonmonetary Compensation”, p. 231-233. This requires that you analyze “BCA’s policy on Earned Time Accural and Use” on page 233. Analyzing policies and how they are applied is a key human resource competencies. The way that policies are applied are called “practice” and the organization’s practice affects issues of discrimination. Why? Each policy must be applied equally to all employees, if not, then the organization can open themselves up to claims of discrimination or lawsuits. So, when you apply policies differently? Really never, but you have to have a reasons that has nothing to do with the person, only the job. You will need to complete all 3 questions on page 232.

Your answer should be at least 2-3 pages with references listed at the end of the document on page 4 and in MLA 7th edition format




Instructors Manual  – Use Only as Guide – Plagiarism Software will be used!!!




                I. OVERVIEW


                A respiratory therapy department head, Drew Nelson, is employed by Breathing Care Associates (BCA), a health care company with headquarters in Rochester, MN.  Drew lives in Owatonna, MN, about 50 miles from BCA’s headquarters and works at the hospital there.  His request to take a seven day vacation has been denied.  Company policy urges employees to take personal time off from work to avoid becoming overly stressed.  Despite this, Nelson’s boss refused to allow him to take seven days off because:

a.       the department would be understaffed,

b.      and another employee in the department would have to be paid overtime.


Nelson has been under pressure to control labor costs due to restructuring at the rural hospital.


                II. OBJECTIVES

                This case can be used to:


1.       Illustrate the consequences of restructuring.

2.       Discuss requirements for exempt status under the Fair Labor Standards Act with respect to overtime.

3.       Explain “earned time” as an alternative to paid time off for holidays, vacations, sick leave, and other personal reasons.

4.       Illustrate problems that result from a reactive approach to human resource issues.

5.       Discuss the ethics and effects on employee morale of having a written policy that cannot be implemented.


                III. DISCUSSION

                First, issues that arise when students analyze this case will be addressed.  Students usually suggest that Nelson should join the union.  His right to unionize probably would not be protected under the National Labor Relations Act, however, because he is considered a manager.  Students also tend to blame all problems in the case on poor communication, which may be a symptom of underlying concerns.

Each objective listed under part II will now be discussed in turn.


a.       Restructuring may have precipitated problems in the Doonesbury case.  When respiratory therapists found out the Waseca facility was going to close, it was in their best interests to seek employment elsewhere.  Three therapists resigned and were not replaced, which led to inadequate staffing in the department.


                Though the Waseca facility would close in June, 1985, it still had to be staffed until then. As often happens during restructuring, remaining employees became overburdened.  Because they worked so many hours, they experienced stress bordering on burnout.  This was particularly true for Nelson, who put in extra hours without added compensation.  Stressful conditions may cause employee – management relations to deteriorate, as they did here.  Stressed out employees could make mistakes that would jeopardize patients’ well-being and reflect poorly on the hospital.


b.      Was Nelson really an exempt employee?


To answer, one must become familiar with executive, administrative, and professional exemptions from the Fair Labor Standards Act.  To qualify for one of these “white collar” exemptions, a person must be paid $250. or more per week and meet two added requirements, which vary depending on the type of exemption sought.


                The major duty of exempt executives must involve managing a recognized organizational unit.  An executive should spend 50% or more working hours on managerial duties and also should use discretion frequently.  An executive must customarily supervise at least two full-time workers or their equivalent.


                Working first line supervisors may not exercise enough discretion to be considered exempt executives.  Though plant managers and registered nurses have been viewed as exempt, a factory supervisor who did manual labor and a branch manager who was closely supervised were declared non-exempt.


                Administrative employees must do non-manual work related to general business operations or management policies.  They also must use discretion and independent judgment regularly.


                An exempt professional’s major work must require advanced knowledge or involve creative ability in an artistic field.  That person also must exercise judgment and discretion.  Certified medical technologists in large clinics or laboratories have been viewed as exempt, but X-ray technologists in small labs have not been.  In this case, Nelson is a working supervisor who spends more than half his time on non-managerial duties.  Therefore, he does not meet the tests for the executive or administrative exemptions.


                Determining whether Nelson meets the professional exemption is more difficult.  He has a bachelor’s degree, but that is not needed to do his job.  His position does, however, require advanced study beyond high school.  Since paramedics performing routine tasks in small clinics and medical technicians with associate’s degrees have been considered non-exempt, Nelson’s position most likely would be non-exempt too.  If he wished, he could file a complaint with the nearest office of the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor to try to obtain back overtime pay.


c.       Earned time has been proposed to eliminate sick leave abuse.


If employees have a fixed number of days per year for holidays, vacations, illness, and for personal reasons, they hurt only themselves by taking a sick day when well.  Doing so will cut the number of vacation or personal days they are allowed.


Though impossible to anticipate every situation that might occur, Breathing Care Associates could have expected employees to quit after they learned the Waseca facility would close.  The firm could have developed contingency plans to deal with the resulting understaffing.  Respiratory therapists who usually worked at St. Luke’s in Rochester could have helped out at Owatonna.  Perhaps therapists from other area hospitals would have been willing to work an extra day at Owatonna for extra pay.  Breathing Care Associates should have used a proactive approach to meet staffing needs.  Instead, the company reacted to a crisis situation.


It is unethical to have a policy urging employees to use earned time when

Situations beyond their control prevent them from doing so.  Perhaps BCA needs to develop two different earned time policies-one for St. Luke’s and one for the Owatonna hospital. On paper, BCA’s earned time policy seems generous.  A gap between the stated policy and the time off employees actually can take may create resentment and frustration.  Employees’ morale may drop, contributing to excess absenteeism, turnover, or workplace tension.




1.       What are Nelson’s alternatives?


                He has at least five options. Nelson could try to persuade Barb to work 7 days in a row.  Simultaneously, he would have to convince Barnes to pay her overtime.  He could explain that it would only be for one week and that he has been doing the work of 2 or 3 therapists for the last four months.  Secondly, Drew could take a 4 – 5 day vacation now and a longer vacation when the department is not short staffed.  Third, he could appeal the decision denying him a 7-day vacation to Barnes’ boss.


                The following alternatives are not recommended but are sometimes mentioned.  Students may suggest that Nelson quit his job, but this would not be a good career strategy unless he had been offered another position.  Also, the case indicates Drew is part of a dual career couple.  Relocation may pose added challenges for those in two-career relationships.


                Some think Drew should order Barb to work seven days in a row.  This suggestion overestimates a first line supervisor’s power. Also, it would be difficult to implement given Barnes’ opposition to overtime pay for Barb.


2.       What do you think Nelson should do?  Justify your answer.


                The answer depends on how much risk Drew wants to take.  If he is risk-averse, he should take a 4-5 day vacation now and a longer vacation later.  A more risky strategy would be to appeal the vacation denial to Barnes’ boss. A manager at that level might have enough power to get a therapist from St. Luke’s to work at Owatonna during Nelson’s vacation.  Nelson should be aware that jumping the chain of command might damage relations with Barnes, however.


Epilogue:  This case was based on actual events, but all names have been disguised.  Nelson wrote a letter to Barnes’ boss protesting his denial of the vacation request.  Barnes’ boss would not overrule his decision but assured Nelson that more staff would be hired soon so he could take a vacation.  Nelson took 5 days off and was able to take a longer vacation later.