Description of Issue:
The main point of concern in the current case is that Marla Gilson, a former president and CEO of the Association of Jewish Aging Services of North America (AJAS), was fired because of disability discrimination (she suddenly found herself being sick for leukemia). On returning from the second round of chemotherapy, she asked AJAS for permission to carry out her managerial activity from home for six months until she would finally recover. She had been notified that she was fired instead (Shin, 2011).
A decision of the board seems to be neither logical nor well-grounded since Gilson was hired after a seven-month search for appropriate candidate in the whole territory of the country. Besides, Gilson had been considered an experienced lobbyist and operative of Democratic Party. Obviously, AJAS was satisfied with her performance (Shin, 2011).
After Gilson returned from her regular session of chemotherapy, she was visited by board members, Gold and Goetz, who expressed their concern regarding Gilson’s ability to further carry out her duties. Gilson’s work included numerous business trips as a part of her duties. Obviously, she would have to refuse from any trips in order to restore her immunity system after disease. As she will not be able to entirely complete her work, she suggested hiring a consultant who would perform the part of her duties she was not able to perform while she was receiving a treatment. AJAS refused her request justifying the decision by the lack of funds for hiring and training a consultant despite of Gilson’s proposition to cut her remuneration in behalf of the consultant. Gilson is planning to initiate a lawsuit against AJAS and she would likely to succeed (Shin, 2011).
The main ethical issue of this case is whether AJAS’s board could be more supportive for the president and CEO of the organization when she was affected by an unfortunate turn of events. Gilson had been a dedicated employee and performed well. Obviously, she deserved support from the organization she significantly contributed. Her sudden unmotivated termination favored desperate state of her mind while she needed support and encouragement most of all.
It looks like Gilson was exploited and then left to the mercy of fate when she got into trouble. People must not feel themselves exploited. As Gilson stated in her letter to the board, she will not be able to find another job while undergoing her course of medical treatment. Making a decision to fire her, the board deprived the whole Gilson’s family of the medical insurance because her salary was the primary source of the family’s income.
AJAS board has to take into account that nobody is ensured against negative occurrences in life and it has to be an example in treatment of disabled people for other institutions.
Evaluation and Suggestions:
The aim of the suggestions is to find a resolution that will be satisfactory for both former CEO and AJAS. Some of them were proposed below.
1. Gilson will not apply to the court. AJAS will reinstate Gilson on her position and offer her to take unpaid vacation on the legal basement till she finally recovers. The treatment will be successful and Gilson will return to her post. AJAS will not find an appropriate candidate to replace Gilson. This is one of the best resolution of the problem because it is not likely that AJAS will succeed in searching the right candidate for Gilson’s position taking into account the time AJAS spent on finding her.
2. Gilson will apply to the court. AJAS will suggest another position for Gilson that she would be able to handle considering her current health condition. This is the best alternative for AJAS being quite satisfactory for Gilson as well. AJAS will have more time to find another employee to replace Gilson at her position of president and CEO while having the possibility to consult her using her wide experience and knowledge. Gilson will have the opportunity to finish her medical treatment and save family’s well being.
3. Gilson will initiate a lawsuit against AJAS. AJAS will agree to reinstate Gilson in her position as a result of reconciliation. The medical treatment will not be effective and Gilson will die. AJAS will have to seek for another person to replace her.
4. Gilson will find another job. This could be a satisfactory alternative for Gilson and neutral for AJAS. There is a small probability of this event.
5. Gilson will apply to the Court and win. AJAS will reinstate her on her position of president and CEO and stay working at home till she recovers. New consultant will carry out the duties she cannot instead of her.
Stakeholders of the case:
1. President and CEO Marla Gilson
2. The board of directors of AJAS
3. Elderly Jewish people under AJAS care
4. Gilson’s family
Effect on Stakeholders:
1. The first alternative seems to be a good resolution for AJAS: the organization will perform in accordance with District laws while the solution is not satisfactory for Gilson. This solution is legal and ethical but not moral since Gilson will not be able to proceed with her treatment and maintain the well being of her family. In this case the board and elderly people will benefit while Gilson does not as well as her family.
2. A board of directors could offer another position for Gilson within the Association with an appropriate level of remuneration. This solution seems to be quite satisfactory in comparison to other alternatives. AJAS would be able to use Gilson’s potential. Gilson would be able to complete her treatment and pay her family’s bills. The alternative is not the best because AJAS would have to find another CEO and Gilson would receive less remuneration. The solution is quite ethical and moral. The interests of elderly people under AJAS care would be taken into account as well.
3. The solution is satisfactory for Gilson while is not good for AJAS because of two reasons. The first reason is that in case if Gilson dies it has to find another CEO to perform her duties. Apparently, this is a difficult task and the organization should have begun the search as soon as possible. The second reason is that AJAS would risk its image because of the lawsuit. In this case the solution is satisfactory for Gilson while will adverse certain unwanted consequences for AJAS. Ethical or moral issues are not topical in this case because of the involvement of the third party.
4. The solution will be satisfactory for Gilson while would not cause any consequences for AJAS. Talking about ethical or moral side of the issue is not relevant because the solution does not include interaction between parties. However, it is quite possible that elderly people would not benefit if another CEO does not perform well and vice versa. The same situation with Gilson’s family with regard to the job she would probably find.
5. AJAS could satisfy Gilson’s appeal with regard to hiring a consultant to handle the tasks she would not be able to handle due to her present health condition. Obviously, her firing violates District laws because cancer is classified as a disability under D.C. Human Rights Act provision. The Act also obliges organizations making reasonable accommodations for disabled employees and granting them with unpaid leave for carrying out necessary medical treatment or restructure job functions. Besides, AJAS will benefit when making such a solution. It is obvious that Gilson performed well and AJAS was satisfied with her work. As Gilson is the experienced CEO, she would contribute into Jewish elderly people services. Thus, this alternative appears to be the best for both Gilson and AJAS.
This path would not violate human rights and can be considered as accommodation of disabled people at the working place. Moreover, Gilson proposed cut her earnings in behalf of the consultant so the organization could hire a consultant. Thus, refusal of the AJAS board of directors cannot be motivated by the lack of the budget. This decision is both the most ethical and moral while is forced by the third party. The Gilson’s family and elderly Jewish people would benefit from this resolution of the problem. Miller & Falkner (2011) made an example of several cases with regard of disability discrimination and wrongful termination of disabled employees. In accordance with their inquiry, Gilson has all chances to win the case.
Miller & Falkner. (2011, November 21). Disability discrimination in the workplace leads to termination, hostile work environment. [Web blog comment]. Retrieved from http://www.kentuckyemploymentlawyerblog.com/2011/11/disability-discrimination-in-t.html
Shin, A. (2011, April 4). Md. leukemia patient stunned by firing. Washingtonpost. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-leukemia-patient-who-was-fired-from-job-plans-to-sue-ex-employer/2011/04/01/AFBxmFdC_story.html