Discussion Board #3 – Detention Center Blues
Discussion Board #3
It is often said that without providing good leadership and role modeling, the best of management systems can fall apart. When leadership is corrupt, or feckless, even the best of employees lose faith in the management, and eventually, leave. Also without leadership, chaos can often ensue with employees who are left to manage themselves. This is one of those cases…
Amanda Motes worked for the Curry County Adult Detention Center as a booking specialist. She worked there for about five weeks when she was injured. At work, she was responsible for the “overall operation of the booking room and file room at the detention center.” All her direct supervisors and officials in her chain of command worked during the day. “[T]he most senior employees on duty at night were sergeants who worked in the detention chain of command.” The sergeants acted as supervisors for the junior employees from all departments.
Sergeant Jayson Cloud was a supervisory sergeant on the night shift. He had worked at the center for about three years. He had been disciplined a few times since he started at the center— “he had been counseled twice for use of obscene or abusive language toward inmates and staff, suspended for conduct unbecoming a county employee, counseled for overriding facility doors while inmates were present, and reprimanded for failing to report for shifts.” “Curry County . . . had promulgated and distributed a safety manual to all county employees, including those employed at the detention center. The manual prohibited horseplay by employees and advised that horseplay ‘may subject’ employees to disciplinary action at the discretion of department heads.” Both Motes and Cloud signed statements that they read and understood the manual.
There were frequent periods of downtime at night. Motes and Cloud had a pattern of interaction during the downtime. It was apparently lighthearted. Motes said that Cloud “made it his life goal to terrorize [her] at any given moment.” For example, they tried to mark each other with markers and spray each other with bug spray. Motes said she had told a supervisor that Cloud irritated her. “The supervisor . . . brushed her off, observing that ‘that was how [Cloud] was.’” Motes noticed other workers engaging in horseplay. The County representative denied being aware of the culture at the center.
One night, work was slow. Cloud and Motes tried to mark each other with markers. Cloud then pretended to spray her with bug spray. Motes chased after him. She tripped and broke her right ankle and fibula. The whole series of events took only a few minutes. Motes falsified the accident report and Cloud signed the report. The County reviewed the surveillance videos and realized that the report was false and fired both Cloud and Motes. (PLEASE SEE RESEARCH BELOW TO READ THE ENTIRE CASE.)
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION:
1. Is this a case of Respondent Superior? Why or why not? Explain your answer.
2. Under the Common-Law Defenses Available to an Employer When Sued for Work-Related Injuries, what specific legal defense could the Curry County Adult Detention Center use in this case? Could there be more than one defense and why?
3. The Courts held that Motes should receive worker’s compensation for her injuries. Curry County Adult Detention Center and Insurer contend Motes is not entitled to compensation because, given the nature of this case, she cannot establish her injuries arose out of and in the course of her employment as required for compensability? If you were the judge, based on the evidence in this case, who would you rule in favor of and why? Explain your answer in detail.
4. A stronger policy needs to be set forth that would assure that this type of behavior is not condoned by management and discipline would be enforced if the policy were violated. a.) Write a brief policy statement that can be included in the HR Handbook. (IN YOUR OWN WORDS!)
5. Write an outline of the disciplinary procedure that would follow if the policy is violated that will allow uniformity among all supervisors. (IN YOUR OWN WORDS!)
6. Given the culture of the Center, do you believe that the County was in their right to fire both Cloud and Motes? Was this a case of Just Cause? Why or why not?
7. Based on your research, list three necessary changes to leadership that you believe need to occur at Curry County Adult Detention Center. Explain why these changes are necessary.
8. Once you’ve posted your response to Questions 1 – 7 above, please discuss this case and the above questions with your fellow justices. Comment on each other’s recommendations and what might make their statements stronger, or what you might use for your own business. Explore the case as deeply as you wish in terms of the perspective of both parties, leadership approaches, etc., and share any insight into ways that your company has dealt with this type of issue.
[See Motes v. Curry County Adult Detention Center, 2018 WL 6293464 (N. Mex. Ct. App. 2018), cert. denied, No. S-1-SC-37445 (May 1, 2019).]
https://www.leagle.com/decision/innmco20190702303 (Links to an external site.)
https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/respondeat_superior (Links to an external site.)
Common-Law Defenses Available to an Employer When Sued for Work-Related Injuries – CHAPTER 17 – Agency Liability for Torts and Crimes (Chapter 30 in the Digital Book) – Exhibit 30.4
“Just Cause”, Legal Dictionary
https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Just+Cause (Links to an external site.)
UC Davis, Human Resources, Just Cause
https://hr.ucdavis.edu/departments/elr/corrective-action/just-cause (Links to an external site.)
Employee Discipline For Intoxication And Horseplay, BY PERRY HEIDECKER, 2021
https://www.cleanlink.com/cp/article/Employee-Discipline-For-Intoxication-And-Horseplay–17640 (Links to an external site.)
Horseplay Policy, Author: Jessica Sussman (Links to an external site.)
https://www.xperthr.com/policies-and-documents/horseplay-policy/5959/ (Links to an external site.)
Employee Discipline: Federal, Employment Law Manual, Xpert HR/Lexis/Nexis, Authors: Wayne D. Garris (Links to an external site.) and Christine Zebrowsk (Links to an external site.)
https://www.xperthr.com/employment-law-manual/employee-discipline-federal/2256/ (Links to an external site.)
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