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Online classes

Effective: Early Spring 8-Week 2017/2018

BUSI 530: Employment Law

Course Description

Examination of federal and state employment laws. Discussions focus on how federal law sets the threshold for private sector employees and overrides most state and local employment laws. Emphasis placed on how both federal and state laws protect workers from discrimination in all aspects of employee recruitment, selection, testing, placement, and retention.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing

Proctored Exams: None



Syllabus Contents

Textbooks

Required

  • Bennett-Alexander, Dawn D., and Hartman, Laura P. Employment Law for Business. 8th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
    • ISBN-978-0-07-802379-8

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.

As an alternative, students can order the eTextbook version of the textbook at https://www.vitalsource.com.

Course Overview

BUSI 530 involves a detailed examination of federal and state laws governing the relationship between employers and employees in both the private and public sectors, and the agencies charged with enforcing the laws. 

You will also become familiar with how the laws have been interpreted and applied by federal and state courts.  The course is divided into three broad sections – the employer-employee relationship, employment discrimination, and employee health, safety, and welfare issues. 

This course is designed to provide current and future middle and upper-level managers with an understanding of the labor and employment laws governing the employer-employee relationship as well as the practical implications of the laws on managerial decision-making.



Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.


Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Explain the difference between an employee and an independent contractor and the primary tests used to make that determination.
  2. Discuss what is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  3. Distinguish between disparate impact and disparate treatment discrimination claims, and how an employer can avoid liability under both types of claims.
  4. Explain “hostile environment” sexual harassment and discuss the requirements for a plaintiff to make a case for sex discrimination based on sexual harassment.
  5. Argue for or against the age threshold of 40 years as the basis for an age discrimination claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).
  6. Discuss what is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and explain what rights disabled employees have under the ADA.

Grading

Grading Scale
Grade Points Percent
A 900-1000 90-100%
B 800-899 80-89%
C 700-799 70-79%
F 0-699 0-69%
Grade Weights
Assignment Category Points Percent
Graded Discussions (12) 240 24%
Dropbox Assignments (2) 300 30%
Midterm Exam 200 20%
Final Exam 260 26%
Total 1000 100%


Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1
Assignment Points Due
Introduction Discussion - Sunday
Discussion 1 20 Wednesday/Sunday
Week 2
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 2 20 Wednesday/Sunday
Dropbox Assignment 1 150 Sunday
Week 3
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 3 20 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 4 20
Week 4
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 5 20 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 6 20
Midterm Exam 200 Sunday
Week 5
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 20 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 8 20
Week 6
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 9 20 Wednesday/Sunday
Dropbox Assignment 2 150 Sunday
Week 7
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 10 20 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 11 20
Week 8
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 12 20 Wednesday/Saturday
Final Exam 260 Saturday
Total Points 1000

Assignment Overview

Discussions

Besides the Introduction Discussion, there are of twelve (12) graded Discussion Topics in the course. Discussion topics 1-12 are worth 20 points each, for a total of 240 points. There are no points for the introduction discussion, which is a personal introduction. The purpose of the discussions is to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas with the instructor and your classmates on topics related to the particular area of employment law being studied each week.  

You are expected to actively participate in these discussions by posting original thoughts and responding to at least one other student’s post.  The initial posts of the discussions must be submitted on Wednesdays (by 11:59 p.m. CT) and your responses on Sundays (by 11:59 p.m. CT), except for Week 8 which response will be due on Saturday (by 11:59 p.m. CT).

To receive the maximum points for each discussion question posted, the response must be no longer than 500 words in length. It must be written in the same style you would use in a memo to a co-worker or supervisor, including correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  The discussion topic responses are more formal than e-mails or text messages, so abbreviations (OMG, etc.), emojis, and/or emoticons are not appropriate. It must be supported by relevant examples and citations, where appropriate. It should include material from the text and/or other competent sources, where appropriate. It must be original, well thought out, and complete. It should contain separate response to at least one of your classmate’s discussion topic posts. It must have mere comments such as “Good idea” or “I agree with you.” are good to support your fellow students, but that alone is insufficient to earn points.  You should engage your fellow learners in a relevant discussion based upon their comments and your additional research.        


Dropbox Assignments

The Dropbox Assignments are due in Weeks 2 and 6. Each Dropbox Assignment will be in the form of an essay analyzing and discussing a case or set of facts pertaining to one or more areas of employment law. The assignments are 150 points each for a total of 300 points. The Dropbox Assignment 1 will be due by 11:59 p.m. CT on Sunday of Week 2.  The Dropbox Assignment 2 will be due by 11:59 p.m. CT on Sunday of Week 6.   The purpose of the Dropbox Assignments is to provide students an opportunity to demonstrate their analytical and critical thinking skills in the context of actual or hypothetical cases. 

The assignments will cover material from the text for those weeks.  Be sure to read the assignments carefully.  Dropbox Assignment 1 should be a 4-6 page double-spaced essay, indicating whether the salespeople would more likely be considered as independent contractors or employees. For Dropbox Assignment 2, students will select a case and write a 6-8 page double spaced essay, analyzing the case.

Dropbox Assignments should be prepared using the following guidelines:

A 12-point Times New Roman or similar business font, It must be submitted in Word format (docx, doc, or rtf file formats). Style and citations should follow the 6th edition of the APA Manual. 

After completing the assignments you must submit to the Dropbox in a timely manner. Unless stated otherwise, students are not required or expected to consult or utilize any outside resources in preparing the Dropbox assignments. To view the full text of any of the cases cited throughout the discussions or Dropbox assignments, go to Lexis-Nexis Academic Legal Search at the Stafford Library Resource Page on the Columbia College Homepage.


Midterm Exam

The Midterm Exam in Week 4 consists of 50 True/False and Multiple Choice questions, and covers material from the textbook chapters assigned in Weeks 1-4. The Midterm Exam is worth 200 points and is due by 11:59 p.m. CT Sunday. The exam will be timed (75 minutes) and will be an open-book exam.

Final Exam

The Final Exam in Week 8 consists of 52 True/False and Multiple Choice questions, and covers material from the textbook chapters assigned in weeks 5-8. The Final Exam is worth 260 points and is due by 11:59 p.m. CT Saturday. The exam will be timed (78 minutes) and will be an open-book exam.



Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.

Week 1: Regulation of the Employer-Employee Relationship
Activities:

Readings:

  • Chapter 1: The Regulation of Employment
  • Chapter 2: Employment Law Toolkit

Case Studies:

  • Case: Murray v. Principal Financial Group, Inc., p.35
  • Case: McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, p.93
  • Case:  Griggs v. Duke Power Co., p. 96
Introduction Discussion

Share your name, address, job/profession, interests, career goals, and any other information that will help the instructor and your fellow online learners get to know you.

Discussion 1

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, and national origin. 

Discrimination lawsuits filed against employers are typically based on one of two theories – disparate treatment or disparate impact. 

In a discrimination lawsuit based on alleged disparate treatment, what must the Plaintiff do to establish a “prima facie” case of discrimination?

Week 2: Employee Recruitment, Testing, Selection, Performance Evaluation, Privacy, and Disciplinary Action
Activities:

Readings:

  • Chapter 4: Legal Construction of the Employment Environment
  • Chapter 14: The Employee’s Right to Privacy and Management of Personal Information

Case Studies:

  • Case:  National Treasury Employees Union v. Von Raab, p. 197
  • Case:  City of Ontario v. Quon, p. 728
Discussion 2

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, as amended in 1994, extends some right of privacy to employees when sending and receiving e-mail messages on the employer’s computer system and calls made and received on employer-owned cell phones. 

However, the statute provides several exceptions that permit employers to intercept and/or monitor employee e-mail, internet, and cell phone use at work. 

  • Describe your current (or previous) employer’s policy regarding employee use of e-mails, internet, and phones for personal matters while at work.
  • Be sure to indicate if the policy is a formal, written policy, or an informal policy.
  • In addition, is the policy administered in a uniform and consistent manner?
Dropbox Assignment 1

For this assignment, you are the owner of a small business in the Midwest with a sales force of ten people whose territories cover five states.  Your sales force is commission-based, so their earnings depend on whether they exceed or fall short of their monthly sales quotas, which are determined by the company.  At the time a salesperson joins the company, you have them sign an agreement acknowledging that they are independent contractors, not employees.  The agreement prohibits them from representing any of your competitors, although they may do work for non-competing businesses.  They must perform their sales duties themselves and may not hire assistants without your approval and at no additional cost to your company.  They are not reimbursed for travel, food, or lodging expenses. For convenience, they have access to cubicles at your main office, along with a laptop and cell phone, although they are not required to use the facilities or equipment.  They do not receive benefits, such as sick leave, vacation, and holidays.  They are paid monthly, and no payroll taxes or social security deductions are withheld from their checks.  Since they are on the road a lot, you carry liability insurance.  Your insurance broker told you that if they are injured while performing their duties, they could sue the company, so you told your workers’ compensation carrier that they are employees so they would be covered by workers’ compensation insurance.  Although the salespeople are not required to report their hours worked each month, they are expected to meet or exceed sales quotas and complete monthly reports indicating the number and names of clients contacted, follow-up calls, and related information documenting their activities.  If they fail to meet their monthly sales quotas, they must provide a written explanation.

Given the above information, prepare a 4-6 page double-spaced essay indicating whether the salespeople would more likely be considered independent contractors or employees, based on the IRS 20-Factor Test.

Week 3: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Affirmative Action
Activities:

Readings:

  • Chapter 3: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Chapter 5: Affirmative Action

Case Studies:

  • Case:  Ali v. Mt. Sinai Hospital, p. 134
  • Case:  Johnson v. Transportation Agency, Santa Clara County, Calif., p. 252
Discussion 3

In its 2013-2016 Strategic Enforcement Plan, the EEOC set forth six priority enforcement areas it would pursue. 

  • What are the six priority enforcement areas?
  • Which area or areas do you feel are most important today? Why do feel this/these area(s) are most important?
Discussion 4

As noted in the text, the concept of affirmative action originated with President Lyndon Johnson’s issuance of Executive Order 11246 in 1964, the same year the landmark Civil Rights Act was enacted. 

While affirmative action has been upheld by courts in a number of cases, it has also been criticized and overturned in a number of decisions.  

What are the differences between a judicial (i.e. court-ordered) affirmative action plan, and a voluntary affirmative action plan?

Week 4: Employment Discrimination based on Race, Color, or National Origin
Activities:

Readings:

  • Chapter 6: Race and Color Discrimination
  • Chapter 7: National Origin Discrimination

Case Studies:

  • Case:  Jones v. Robinson Property Group, L.P. dba Horseshoe Casino & Hotel, p. 299
  • Case: Cortezano v. Stalin Bank & Trust Company, p. 338
Discussion 5

In addition to the protections afforded employees by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, most states have statutes that prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, etc.

Research your state’s statutes and provide the name of the applicable anti-discrimination (or “human rights”) statute, the agency responsible for enforcing its provisions, and what types of discrimination are covered by the statute.

Discussion 6

Discuss the four elements an employee must show to establish a claim of discrimination based on national origin.

Midterm Exam

Non-proctored, open book exam worth 200 points. It covers readings from Weeks 1–4. It comprises 50 True/False and Multiple Choice questions. The exam is to be completed in 75 minutes and in one attempt.

You must submit the exam by 11:59 pm CT on Sunday.

Week 5: Employment Discrimination based on Gender, Sexual Orientation, or Gender-Identity
Activities:

Readings:

  • Chapter 8: Gender Discrimination
  • Chapter 9: Sexual Harassment
  • Chapter 10: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination

Case Studies:

  • Case:  Wedow v. City of Kansas City, Missouri, p. 394
  • Case: Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, p. 441
Discussion 7

Although Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual-orientation or gender-identity, a number of states have enacted laws that do prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual-orientation and/or gender-identity. 

Discuss whether there is one or more state laws in your state prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual-orientation or gender-identity.

Discussion 8

A female employee of a company files a sexual harassment complaint against a male co-worker, alleging that he has repeatedly made sexually-oriented comments about her appearance that were not welcome.  The co-worker claims that he did not intend the comments to be offensive or overtly sexual in nature.

Discuss the significance of the male co-worker’s intentions in resolving the complaint.

Week 6: Employment Discrimination based on Religion or Age
Activities:

Readings:

  • Chapter 11: Religious Discrimination
  • Chapter 12: Age Discrimination

Case Studies:

  • Case: Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Hardison, p. 528
  • Case: Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc., p. 579
Discussion 9

Staff members who work at a women’s medical clinic are required to provide clients with information about various community resources available to them on a variety of medical conditions.  Some of the resources include information regarding abortions.  One staff member claims that her religious beliefs do not permit her to provide information about abortions, which is against her religion.  The director of the clinic claims it would cause an undue hardship to accommodate her religious beliefs. 

What are your thoughts?

Dropbox Assignment 2

Listed below are four cases dealing with employment discrimination based on age and religion.  For this assignment, you are to select one of the cases and prepare a paper in which you discuss the facts of the case, the relevant provisions of the statute, and how the court interpreted and applied the provisions of the statute to the issues presented in the case.

  1. Religious Discrimination (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964)
    Cases:
    • Peterson v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 358 F3d 599 (9th Cir. 2004)

      or

    • EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, 575 US _____ (2015).Docket No. 14-86
  2. Age Discrimination (Age Discrimination in Employment Act)

    Cases:

    • Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 US 133 (2000)

      or

    • Kentucky Retirement Systems v. EEOC, 554 US 135 (2008)
  • Your paper should begin with a discussion of the essential facts of the case, including a brief summary of the lower court decision(s) which gave rise to the appeal.
  • Your discussion of the facts should be followed by a detailed analysis of the case. Your analysis should indicate what legal issues are presented in the case – in other words, what issues is the Court attempting to address and resolve? Some cases might have only a single issue, while others may have more than one.
  • After you have described the facts and identified the legal issues presented, you should identify the relevant provisions of the law that the Court is interpreting in the case.  In other words, what is the rule of law that governs the Court’s analysis of the case?
  • Finally, you should summarize the Court’s decision, or holding, in the case, and discuss how the Court reached its decision.  You should also consider and discuss the practical implications of the Court’s decision for both the employer and the employee.
  • Please make sure:
    • Consult up to three (3) outside sources, although you are not required to utilize outside resources.
    • Please follow the 6th Edition of the APA manual for documentation, if you do consult outside sources.
    • Your paper should be from 6-8 pages in length, in Word format, and should be double-spaced using a 12-point Times New Roman or similar business font.
Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.
Week 7: Employment Discrimination based on Physical or Mental Disability
Activities:

Readings:

  • Chapter 13: Disability Discrimination

Case Studies:

  • Case: Wilson v. Phoenix Specialty Manufacturing Co., Inc., p. 644
Discussion 10

In Chapter 13, the authors discuss a number of “attitudinal barriers” faced by persons with disabilities. 

Discuss one or more of these barriers that you have witnessed, experienced, or are familiar with.

Discussion 11

The ADAAA expanded the definition of “disability” under the ADA to state that an impairment can be “substantially limiting” even if it expected to last only a limited period of time. 

Does this mean that pregnancy can serve as the basis for either gender discrimination or disability discrimination claim, or even both? 

If so, what would be the advantage of filing a disability discrimination claim as opposed to a gender discrimination claim?

Week 8: Labor Law and Employment Benefits and Protections
Activities:

Readings:

  • Chapter 15: Labor Law
  • Chapter 16: Selected Employment Benefits and Protections

Case Studies:

  • Case:  Electromation v. National Labor Relations Board, p. 772
  • Case: Mullins v. City of New York, p. 829
Discussion 12

Labor unions’ greatest growth in the last two decades has been among public sector employees, including police officers, firefighters, and teachers.  Some parties have asserted that collective bargaining should not be permitted in the public sector, since unions representing public employees often support and contribute to the elected officials with whom they must negotiate. 

Is this a conflict of interest? 

If not, why not? 

If so, what are your thoughts on how it should be resolved?

Final Exam

Non-proctored, open book exam worth 260 points. It covers readings from Weeks 5–8. It comprises 52 True/False and Multiple Choice questions. The exam is to be completed in 78 minutes and in one attempt.

The Final Exam must be submitted by 11:59 pm CT on Saturday.



Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.

Plagiarism

Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.

Non-Discrimination

There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at sar@ccis.edu.

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

Any written assignment submitted late will result in the assignment grade being reduced.  You have only one week to submit late written assignments. After one week, you will receive no credit. Discussion Topic assignments may not be made up.  The only way to conduct a proactive discussion online is to respond promptly.  If you do not post your responses to the Discussion Topics by the Sunday deadline, you will receive a “zero” for that particular discussion question(s). 

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.


Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Helpdesk, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.


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