Personal Loyalty versus Business Operations: What to do about an Aging Employee who is also a Long-time Family Friend?

Tyler Burch, Idaho State University, Neil Tocher, Idaho State University, Dennis Krumwiede, Idaho State University
March 10, 2022
Strategy & General Management, Ethics & Social Justice, Human Resources & Organizational Behavior
3 pages
critical thinking, critical incident, crisis managment, decision making, ethics, loyalty, personal values, interpersonal relationships
Student Price: 
$4.00 (€3.67)
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As Josh ate breakfast, he wondered what he was going to do about Ben, his 64-year-old longtime family friend and salesperson suffering from severe arthritis. Josh had to take Ben home a few days prior because an arthritis flare up had left Ben unable to walk, perform any work functions, or drive himself home. Josh was also concerned that the high doses of pain killers that Ben took daily just to function were hindering his ability to think, interact effectively with others, and drive safely to and from work. Ben had been recovering from the outbreak for a few days at home, but given Ben’s stubborn nature, Josh knew Ben would soon want to return to work, regardless of his abilities to perform job duties.

Ben was 40 years older than Josh, had babysat Josh when he was a young child, and had worked on-and-off at Mountain Top Construction (MTC) for many years. Josh was thus left in a situation where he may be forced to fire or retire one of his longest family friends. Despite the awkward situation, Josh felt that Ben could no longer work productively or safely at MTC. The combination of arthritis and painkillers left Ben unable to perform basic job functions and was also very frustrating for Ben, as he still wanted to be a productive employee. However, Josh worried that forcing Ben out of the company would ruin a friendship, make him look heartless, and could even potentially leave MTC in legal trouble. As Josh finished off the last of his breakfast he wondered, “How can I fix the Ben situation and not mess anything up at MTC?”

Learning Outcomes: 

1. Articulate how the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) affects small, family-owned businesses.

2. Describe why small, family-owned businesses may not typically have formal policies about employee retirement, disabled employees, and employee work capabilities.

3. Analyze and debate the communication and conflict resolution strategies that managers must use when discussing sensitive topics with their employees.

4. Articulate how formal employment policies may complicate culture within small, familyowned businesses.