One of the first problems Jennifer faced at her father’s Carter Cleaning Centers concerned the inadequacies of the firm’s current HR management practices and procedures. One problem that particularly concerned her was the lack of attention to equal employment matters. Virtually all hiring was handled independently by each store manager, and the managers themselves had received no training regarding such fundamental matters as the types of questions that should not be asked of job applicants. It was therefore not unusual—in fact, it was routine— for female applicants to be asked questions such as, “Who’s going to take care of your children while you are at work?” and for minority applicants to be asked questions about arrest records and credit histories. Nonminority applicants—three store managers were white males and three were white females, by the way—were not asked these questions, as Jennifer discerned from her interviews with the managers. Based on discussions with her father, Jennifer deduced that part of the reason for the laid-back attitude toward equal employment stemmed from (1) her father’s lack of sophistication regarding the legal requirements and (2) the fact that, as Jack Carter put it, “Virtually all our workers are women or minority members anyway, so no one can really come in here and accuse us of being discriminatory, can they?” Jennifer decided to mull that question over, but before she could, she was faced with two serious equal rights problems. Two women in one of her stores privately confided to her that their manager was making unwelcome sexual advances toward them, and one claimed he had threatened to fire her unless she “socialized” with him after hours. And during a fact-finding trip to another store, an older man—he was 73 years old—complained of the fact that although he had almost 50 years of experience in the business, he was being paid less than people half his age who were doing the very same job. Jennifer’s review of the stores resulted in the following questions. Questions 1. Is it true, as Jack Carter claims, that “we can’t be accused of being discriminatory because we hire mostly women and minorities anyway”? 2. How should Jennifer and her company address the sexual harassment charges and problems? 3. How should she and her company address the possible problems of age discrimination 4. Given the fact that each of its stores has only a handful of employees, is her company in fact covered by equal rights legislation? 5. And finally, aside from the specific problems, what other human resource management matters (application forms, training, and so on) have to be reviewed given the need to bring them into compliance with equal rights laws?
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