During the HR Manager’s audit at the India plant, The HR manager also discovered that the plant has not traditionally utilized any form of progressive discipline. Managers keep track of issues in their own way without any formalized process. Now that the plant is part of a global, publicly traded company, the lack of processes puts the entire organization at risk for several areas of compliance. How can HR add value in this context?


  • The exit process for employment can be lengthy and present too much risk to a business if not handled well. HR is able to assess risk, make recommendations for process improvement, and execute strategic plans.
  • HR has a commitment to creating the best employee experience, which stops employees exiting from a business. When processes are not well thought out, the most detrimental impact is first felt by employees.
  • HR stands in position to hold operational managers accountable for their jobs. In this case, appropriate discipline needs to be given to these managers for not abiding by any standard process.

E-Tronics will be executing a reduction in force (RIF). Upon the last review, the HR Director notices that 95% of the justification is sound. However, there appears to be a greater impact on a small group of employees over the age of 40. How should the HR Director handle the situation?

  • The HR Director should meet with the small group of employees over the age of 40 and seek volunteers from the group that will agree to an early retirement plan.
  • The HR Director should put a hold on the process until E-Tronics achieves 100% accuracy in ensuring there is no disparate impact to any legally protected group. The HR Director should also create documentation for legal precedence to ensure there is no disparate impact.
  • The HR Director should not pause the situation because doing so will cost the company potentially hundreds of thousands more in lost costs. These issues can be cleaned up for the second round of reductions.

At a plant in California, the leadership team is reviewing closure options and has sought external guidance from a national consulting firm that specializes in plant closures for government agencies. As E-Tronics has a few government contracts, one in California, the company thought it prudent to engage with this consulting firm for advice. Why is this a potential problem?

  • California’s laws governing plant closure and notification require additional cost saving measures as outlined in the states collective bargaining agreement.
  • The company cannot notify any third party about the company’s plans to shut down one of the facilities until it is more than 60 days out.
  • The internal HR leadership team would advise local leadership that relevant acts such as WARN do not apply to state, local and federal governments. Working with this consulting firm may not produce the accurate, relevant facts needed.

Unfortunately, some managers within organizations purposefully make an employee’s situation miserable with direct intent to force the employee out. This is due to many circumstances such as collective bargaining agreements where a union is represented, specific contract language, or tenure policies. Because of these elements, many managers aren’t able to terminate under regular conditions and will sometimes commit themselves to unethical practices. How can HR minimize unhealthy and potentially illegal situations like this?

  • HR is the sole representative during any legal proceeding and bears the burden of proving guilt for the company.
  • HR is able to conduct frequent investigations ensuring they enforce appropriate conduct within the business.
  • HR plays a dual role in advocating on behalf of employees and also acting as a representative of the company. A good HR professional must leverage company resources while watching out for the individual.

Mike is a senior executive at Advanced Hero and has been in his current role for 12 years. The Board of Directors has been closely monitoring his input and interactions with others for the last year because of the friction between him and the other executives regarding business direction and strategy. The Board of Directors concluded that it needs to make a decision, so it seeks the advice of the Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) for guidance. Which of the following details should the CHRO consider?

  • Certain bona fide executives and policymakers that meet specific criteria are able to be forced into retirement. Even though Mike is 65, Advanced Hero can legally force him into retirement.
  • Executive compensation provides certain protections from employment-related decisions. The CHRO will have to conduct a compensation analysis to see if Mike’s pay is above or below the thresholds for these protections.
  • Even when job deficiencies exist, a company cannot terminate an employee over the age of 40 because job performance is not an exception to the ADEA rules. The board must find a legal, alternative path to separation.

After looking at the layoff and separation plans, the Finance Manager suggested that the easiest way to protect company profitability is to cut those with the highest pay. How should the HR Manager respond to this perspective?

  • Those that are highly compensated are also the decision-makers. Laying off all or most of the decision-makers will put the company at risk of complete failure.
  • Those that are highly compensated and even possibly overqualified are usually more experienced workers over the age of 40. This criteria typically puts companies at risk of breaking ADEA laws.
  • Finance does not have any actual involvement in the decision-making process for who will be let go. The accountability rests on Human Resources to decide and then to inform other stakeholders of the actions.

During the most recent annual performance management training at E-Tronics, managers admitted struggling during termination discussions because it is uncomfortable to conduct terminations. What is the best advice HR can provide to managers?

  • Recent research shows that emailing the termination decision is acceptable due to the highly accepted and universal usage of electronic communication in today’s culture. If managers really don’t want to speak in person, this is a viable option.
  • As termination discussions are difficult, managers should keep the meeting brief and highlight the main performance issues that led up to the termination decision. Active listening can also help diffuse potential frustrations exhibited by employees.
  • Because most terminations are not anticipated and employees are caught off guard, managers should into detail about past performance evaluations so that employees can understand the complete rationale for the termination.