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Specializations :- Human Resource Management
Note: – Solve any 4 Case Study
All Case Carry equal Marks.
Case 1 :-
Meeting the Challenge of Sexual Harassment
At an office of Goldman, Sachs and Company in Boston, some male employees allegedly pasted photos of bare-breasted women on company newsletters, next to biographies of new female employees (suggesting that the photos were pictures of the new staff members). Copies of the newsletters were circulated around the office. Sexist literature such as “The Smart Man’s Creed or Why Beer Is Better Than Women” (“After you’ve had a beer, the bottle is still worth a dime”) was allegedly also distributed. Kristine Utley, a former Goldman sales associate, has made these allegations in a suit charging that the environment at Goldman, Sachs constitutes sexual harassment. Fired for refusing a transfer to a New York office, she is suing to gain reinstatement and damages and to eliminate the harassment.
Joanne Barbetta has filed a similar suit seeking damages for harassment caused by an environment that she asserted “was poisoning my system.” Ms. Barbetta reports that during her tenure as a clerk at Chemlawn, male employees circulated pornographic magazines and pinup posters. She viewed a slide presentation that included suggestive pictures (e.g., a nude woman) put there, according to management, “to keep the guys awake.” After these experiences and continual breast-grabbing by a male employee, Ms. Barbetta quit.
Marie Regab, formerly an 18-year employee of Air France, has filed similar charges concerning the Washington office where she worked as a salesperson. She alleges that several characteristics of the office environment combined to create harassment, including propositions by one of her bosses, circulation of Playboy and Penthouse magazines in the office, and open discussion of sexual activity by male employees. “It was sickening and an insult to women in the office,” she claims. Ms. Regab was fired; she is suing to gain reinstatement, for $1.5 million in damages, and to eliminate the harassment in the office.
These three situations are examples of a growing number of suits being filed by women who charge that a sexist environment in the workplace constitutes sexual harassment and that their employers are therefore liable. Plaintiff actions in this area have been fueled by the Supreme Court’s ruling that sexist behavior that creates an “intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment” is sexual harassment and violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
The Court’s ruling has spurred an increasing number of companies to act to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and to deal with if effectively when the problem occurs. Other factors have also triggered company action. Employers are realizing that the costs of harassment can be high in terms of lowered productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. One study of female employees in the federal government concluded that the government loses about $200 million each year to the effects od sexual harassment. Costs can also be high if an employee sues. Even if the plaintiff opts for an out- of-court settlement, the costs of these settlements are often in six figures, and it’s the company that pays. Companies are also realizing that sexual harassment is a very real issue in today’s workplace; from 20 to over 50 percent of working women have experienced sexual harassment (and so have at least 15 percent of male employees).
Thus, companies are tackling the issue; the more effective strategies developed so far contain four primary features:
1. Training programs the educate employees concerning the meaning of sexual harassment and the behaviors that constitute a hostile and harassment workplace: Training is especially important simply because men and women often differ in their perception of what constitutes harassment. Most training is in the form of seminars and workshops, often with films and videos. Philip Morris USA conducts a mandatory training program for its field managers that include viewing a video called “Shades of Gray”. General Motors conducts an awareness seminar for employees and offers this benchmark for judging the appropriateness of office conduct: “would you be embarrassed to see your remarks or behavior in the newspaper or described to your own family?”
Du Pont has developed one of the most comprehensive antiharassment programs in business (begun in 1981). Recently, the corporation added a $500,000 course on personal safety, rape, and harassment prevention primarily for its female employees (many of whom are moving into traditionally male jobs at Du Pont such as agricultural products sales). The course offers no-nonsense advice on how to handle a harasser. For example, if a male customer fondles a women’s knee, Du Pont advises that she “firmly remove his hand . . . and then say, ‘Let’s pretend this didn’t happen. “If she receives a verbal proposition, Du Pont advises that she say, “No, I wouldn’t want our business relationship to be jeopardized in any way.” About 1,600 employees have completed the course.
Like General Motors, Du Pont offers its employees a guideline for evaluating their behavior. Said a Du Pont spokesman, “We tell people, it’s harassment when something starts bothering somebody.”
Some other companies provide advice concerning how to handle harassment. One popular piece of advice: Document the incident as soon as possible by describing on paper what happened in full detail and talking to someone informally about the incident. A relatively mild case of harassment can be handled by taking to the harasser, explaining what he or she did , how it made you feel, and telling the harasser to stop. In a more serious situation, communicating these points via a certified letter sent to the harasser, with the victim keeping a copy, is often recommended (and reportedly proves to be quite effective).
2. An internal complaint procedure: Ideally, the procedure provides for fast action and confidentiality and ensures that the employee can report the problem to a manager who is not involved in the harassment. Some companies encourage employees to report a problem to their immediate supervisor but also designate an individual (often a woman) in the HR department as someone employees can speak with in cases where the immediate supervisor is involved in the problem. To ensure speedy action, some companies require that an investigation begin within 24 hours after the harassment complaint has been reported. Ideally, the procedure also stipulates how investigations will be conducted.
3. Speedy, corrective action that solves the problem: If the investigation supports the employee’s claims, corrective action is quickly taken. Such action can range from simply talking to the harasser to discharge, depending on the severity of the offense. One federal agency requires offending employees to publicly apologize to the individuals they’ve harassed. Staffing changes also sometimes occur. Our New York bank faced a problem of a highly talented male executive who generated much profit for the bank-and also several costly EEOC complaints from his secretaries. The bank solved the problem by assigning the executive an all-male secretarial staff. Corrective action is particularly important because it communicates to both victims and potential offenders that harassment will not be tolerated.
4. A written and communicated antiharassment policy. The written policy is documented and distributed to all employees. The policy contains a definition of harassment, the company’s position prohibition harassment, the grievance procedure, and penalties.
While a growing number of companies are implementing antiharassment policies, the courts have yet to establish consistent record concerning the issue of “hostile environment” as illegal harassment. For example, a federal district court in Michigan dismissed a claim by Vivienne Rabidue that sexual posters and obscene language in her office at Osceola Refining Co. constituted illegal sexual harassment.
However, Joanne Barbetta has won the first round of her court battle with Chemlawn. The judge hearing her complaint rejected Chemlawn’s motion to dismiss the suit; he has ordered Ms. Barbetta’s case to trial. Chemlawn is expected to present a vigorous defense, asserting that the men involved in the newsletter incident have been disciplined and that the situations Ms. Barbetta cites fall far short of creating a hostile, harassing environment because they occurred “over the course of two years.”

1. Assumes that you are an HR executive for a company that manufactures and sells agricultural products (for example, fertilizers and grain feeds). The company’s workforce of 1,200 employees is 70 percent male and 30 percent female. Drawing from this case and the chapter content, develop an antiharassment policy and program. What are the major challenges you see in implementing the program?
2. Many experts assert that reported cases of sexual harassment represent only a small percentage of the total number of incidents that actually occur in the workplace. If their assertion is true, why do so many cases go unreported? How would your HRM policy on harassment address this situation?
3. As research indicates, people differ widely in their perceptions of sexual harassment. What is a harmless remark to one individual can be an annoying, even infuriating insult to another. In your view, what separates harmless conduct from harassing behavior? In the same vein, when does a sexist environment become a hostile, harassing one?

Case 2 :-
Are New Recruits Looking for Work – Life Balance?
Anyone who has tried to balance his or her time between a busy job and a fulfilling personal life knows challenging this can be. An Indisputable fact is that work and personal lives are interconnected. Companies know this. Potential recruits also know this. It’s become more of an issue in recent years due to some important demographic changes that are affecting many workers. For example, companies are experiencing rising demand for the expansion of child care and elder care programs. This is not surprising given the aging of the U.S. population and that Gen Xers are starting to have families. Thus, many recruits who are members of the “sandwich generation” (i.e., they are sandwiched between elderly parents and young children and therefore have to provide care both sets of family members) consider as part of their employment decisions the number and type of work-life balance programs that potential employers offer. Other demographic changes that are contributing to this rise in the demand for work-life balance programs include the increase of single parents entering the workforce and an increase of dual-career couples. In both cases, parents who shoulder care-giving responsibilities often seek flexible work arrangements and more flexible career cycles. Flexible career cycles allow individuals to leave their career tracks temporarily to raise a child, care for sick parent, and so on. These individuals are welcomed back to work and placed back into career-oriented positions.
Are companies using work-life balance programs to attract top candidates to join their firms? The answer is yes. Whirlpool attempts to attract recruits with the company’s family friendly culture. To illustrate, the company arranged for housing for an intern and his family for the entire summer.
At Xerox, two executives successfully share one job so that they can have more time at home with their young children. After 10 years, the job sharing arrangement is working whereby both executives report high levels of satisfaction with the arrangement, and the company has been able to retain two productive and experienced employees.
Flextime programs that allow employees limited control over which days and hours they have to be working at the office are becoming popular at many companies. For example, an employee may prefer to work a 4-day/10-hours-a-day week instead of a traditional 5-days/8-hours-a-day week. The shorter workweek may allow the employee to attend children’s sporting events, provide weekend care for an elderly parent, or engage in other important activities. Companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Merrill Lynch, Deloitte Touche, and Cigna have implemented flextime programs.
Related to flextime is telecommuting, which allows employees to work in their home part or full time while being connected to the office via the Internet, phone lines, and the like. Although some managers and supervisors fear a loss of control from this type of work-family arrangement, companies like Pfizer have been careful to create an effective telecommuting policy. For example in order to qualify for this program, Pfizer employees are required to demonstrate that the work can be accomplished odd-site to no more than two per week.
Work-life balance programs such as job sharing, flextime, and telecommuting are designed for both retaining current employees and attracting potential employees to the firm. As new college graduates increasingly find themselves providing care to both their aging parents and young children, the value of these programs will only increase. Undoubtedly, this will make work-life friendly companies more attractive in the marketplace.
1. Why is there a need for companies to offer work-family balance programs such as flextime, telecommuting, and job sharing?
2. Of the three programs discussed above, which be the most important program for you personally when deciding whether or not to join an employer? Why?
3. Some organizations do not believe in offering any of these work-life balance programs. What do you think their reasoning is? Explain.

Case 3 :-
Creative Staffing Solutions: A Pipeline of Human Assets
Finding the talent, competence, and expertise needed to operate a business, run a project, or grow a company is always a challenging job. In the recent labor market, even with an economic downturn, firms have had difficulty finding enough employees who are skilled in specific areas such as management information technology, software programming, and technical sales.
There are also firms interested in attracting people willing to work part-time or on a temporary basis to develop and complete a particular project. A temporary work basis differs from “traditional” temporary assignments, which often last a week or two while a permanent employee is ill or on vacation. Instead, some companies want people who can stay on the job for six months or a year.
Creative Staffing Solutions (CSS), a temporary and alternative staffing firm, provides workers to companies “Temping,” as it used to be called, is a $40 billion industry as more and more companies turn to staffing agencies for help. Companies are willing to pay for these employees. “For high-tech workers, this is an employee’s market,” notes Marc Brailov of the American Electronics Association. “It is very important for Internet companies to create and offer incentives to attract and retain employees.” That’s where Creative Staffing Solution (CCS) comes in.
CSS, a minority-owned firm founded by Mel Rhone, now has clients ranging from small companies to large organizations such as AT & T, Hershey’s, and Lockheed Martin. CSS specializes in finding IT professionals, engineers, computer programmers, and other high-tech workers for its clients. On one side of the process, a CSS manager meets with and interviews the HR manager at the client firm to determine the firm’s needs. On the other side, CSS managers screen, interview, and test prospective job candidates’ work history, grammar, spelling, math, computer skills, and so forth. CSS makes it possible for the job hunters to post their resumes on the CSS Web site, where staffing managers can review them. In addition, CSS’s staffing managers peruse Internet job sites in search of potential matches.
According to CSS managers, the alternative staffing solution meets the needs of both the company and the worker. Firms obtain screened, highly skilled, and motivated workers for a designated period. Currently, many high-tech firms prefer to hire temporary workers. They like to hire people to complete a specific project, such as development of a new computer system. Workers also benefit. “You get to make your own schedule,” remarks CSS staffing manager Joy Thomas. Because CSS tests and trains candidates, people who want to improve their job skills can find plenty of opportunity through the company. Some workers are looking to change careers but are afraid to make a total commitment without knowing whether they will like the new field. Filling a temporary position can give them a good taste for what the field will be like. Occasionally CSS sends a worker to fill one temporary position at a company, and the person moves on to a completely different job at the firm. The arrangement gives both parties convenience and flexibility.
Rhone foresees a future in which temporary and alternative staffing will be routine in American industry, and he wants his company to be ready to grab every opportunity that comes its way. A study by National Association of Temporary and Staffing Services found that 90 percent of companies surveyed employ temporary help. “Companies are incorporating temp workers in long-term plans, whereas 15 years ago they used temps just to fill occasional holes,“ remarks Richard Wahlquist, executive vice president of the association. The same holds true for today’s workers. “The way Americans seek work has fundamentally shifted-so many young adults look to temp agencies first, to get a taste of different fields, that we are a central part of the job search process,” says Wahlquist. Creative Staffing Solution intends to remain part of the process as well.
1. How can Creative Staffing Solutions create a learning environment for job candidates before they accept a position or while they are between positions?
2. What type of job candidates would use the temporary job support and services provided by a firm like CSS?
3. What difficulties might Creative Staffing Solutions have to deal with in using electronic job and resume posting?

Case 4 :-
Human Resource Planning and Virtual Human Resource Management
Just a few years ago, computer technology offered a revolutionary change in human resource management. Organizations experimented with computerized skills inventories, pay and benefits administration, and applicant tracking systems. Today, the revolution continues but is undergoing fundamental changes as computer technology and the Internet grow at unprecedented rates. Human resource management is moving away from a mainframe technology to the world of virtual reality, with the Internet at its core. Although many forces drive this change, one of the most important is the globalization of business. As organizations spread their operations and personnel worldwide, the need for a truly global, integrated human resource information system has reached critical levels. The most obvious answer-virtual human resource management on the World Wide Web.
Surveys indicate that in the past year alone, the percentage of U.S. companies using the Web for its HR system has almost doubled. As recently as 1997, approximately 27 percent of surveyed organizations reported such use. Now that number has reached 50 percent, and almost 75 percent of organizations indicate they plan to integrate their HR activities with the Web sometime during the next two years.
The most common uses of the Internet in human resource planning are in corporate communications, applicant and resume tracking, and benefits and retirement planning. In the area of recruiting, Human Inc. has created one of the most advance applicant identification and tracking systems in the world. Humana is an HMO with approximately 20,000 employees and 6 million subscribers. Their human resource recruiters can rapidly identify, contact, and track qualified applicant, Softshoe Select, provided by and linked to This software automatically searches millions of individual Web pages looking for resumes that meet any need that Humana may have. While setup costs are relatively large (a one-time fee of $50,000 for licensing and configuration in addition to a $2,000 per month lease), organizations such as Humana find that the costs are well worth the efforts. Humana, for example, estimates that it previously spent an average of $128 in advertising to find a single qualified applicant’s resume. Today, they estimate that the cost is approximately $.06. For Humana, that translates into an annual savings of $8.3 million.
The Internet is also helping revolutionize a number of other human resource planning activities for many organizations, Citibank, for example, has a single global HRIS that maintains a detailed skills inventory, compensation database, and HR practices for 98 countries and 10,000 managerial personnel worldwide. Numerous other global employers have created employee self-service compensation and benefits systems that allow employees from around the globe to manage many of their own HR activities. For example, employees at Shell Oil Company manage their retirement plans, maintain and/or change health care coverage, and track other personally relevant information all through an automated self-service system.
Use of the Internet in these kinds of human resource planning activities is not, however, without danger. The ease of access to so much information always has the potential to create both legal and ethical abuse, both by employees and by external “hackers,” or unauthorized users of the systems. Organizations must take all necessary precautions to safeguard the privacy and integrity of these virtual human resource systems. The challenges are immense, but the organizational consequences can be invaluable.
1. How has the emergence of the Internet changed the way that organizations plan and mange their human resource needs?
2. What kinds of future human resource activities might we see developed over the next several years?
3. What are the legal and ethical issues surrounding the use of the Internet by Individual employees for human resource activities? Are you concerned about violations of your own privacy because of these kinds of Web applicants?
4. What specialized skills will the future HRIS professional need in order to effectively manage an organization’s virtual human resource function?

Case 5 :-
Toyota in France: Culture Clash?
Hiroaki Watanabe, the Japanese general manager of the first major Toyota plant in Valenciennes, France (and in continental Europe), has a lot at stake. He is in charge of a modern and efficient $570 million Toyota Motor factory designed to manufacture the Yaris, a subcompact car. The plant was designed to employ 2,000 workers. Currently, there are about 200 Japanese managers and 150 Japanese trainers on staff. The remaining employees are mostly French. Culturally speaking, there were many potential areas of conflict between the Japanese and French customs. For example, the plant holds calisthenics at 8:00 A.M. every morning to avoid starting off the day “cold” and being more prone to injuries. This is a common Japanese practice that is not frequently done in France. Also, the plant does not serve wine at lunch, a common practice in other French organizations. As is common in other Japanese firms, blue and gray windbreaker jackets are made available with the word “Toyota” on the back and the employee’s name on the front.
To help bridge these and other potential cultural gaps, the leadership of the venture needs to understand the potential cultural clashes that these issues can cause. How did Mr. Watanabe prepare himself for this high-profile assignment? Although fluent in English, he decided that he would learn French and as much about French culture as possible. After all, the vast majority of workers at the plant would be from northern France. To prepare himself, he traveled to France as a tourist and visited the Toyota plant in Canada. He conducted interviews in French, with assistance of an interpreter, in order to improve his language skills.
Are his efforts succeeding? Toyota had high hopes for this first major undertaking in continental Europe. Its goal was to increase its market share that was 3.7 percent in 2001, less than half its share in the United States in that year. In 2004, Toyota surpassed this goal by achieving a 5.3 percent market share in Europe, higher than both Mercedes and Audi. The French employees at the Toyota plant have a lot at stake when one considers that the Valenciennes area, a former coal and steel region, suffers from high unemployment with closing of many companies in heavy industry over the past 20 years. To underscore the importance of Toyota to this region, more than 30,000 people applied for the 2,000 jobs at the factory when it first opened its doors.
1. What potential conflicts could arise between the Japanese managers/trainers and the French employees? Explain.
2. What do you think of Mr. Watanabe’s approach to preparing himself for French culture? Do you think that his approach would be useful for American managers? Why or Why not?
3. What kind of organizational culture did Mr. Watanabe want to establish at the factory in Valenciennes, France? Do you think he’ll try to manage the plant just like a Toyota factory in Tokyo? Why or Why not?
4. What implications are there for the French employees of the plant if its good fortune takes a turn for the worse, and the factory consequently shuts its doors? Explain.

Case 6 :-
OSHO and Unions versus Manufactures: Is Workplace Ergonomics a Problem?
During the Industrial Revolution a century ago, workplace injuries were so commonplace that they were simply considered one of the hazards of having a job. Children and adults were often maimed or disfigured in factory accidents. Today strict regulations cover safety in the workplace, guided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health administration (OSHO).
During the past couple of decades, as industry itself has changed, a different type of injury has emerged; musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). MSDs are injuries resulting from overexertion and repetitive motion, such as constantly lifting heavy loads or grabbing and twisting a piece of machinery. People who sit at computer workstations all day are susceptible to MSDs as well, particularly carpal tunnel syndrome, which affects the nerves of the hand, wrist, and arm. According to OSHO, about one third of repetitive stress injuries, or 600,000, are serious enough to require time off the job, which means that businesses pay for these injuries not only in medical costs but in lost productivity. They can also contribute to high employee turnover. No one disputes that these injuries occur. But various experts, industry leaders, and politicians argue about how severe the injuries are, who should pay for them, what should be done about them, and who takes ultimate responsibility for the safety of workers.
One aspect of the whole issue of workplace injuries is ergonomics: “The applied science of equipment design, intended to reduce operator fatigue and discomfort, or as OSHO puts it, the science of fitting the job to the worker.” Ergonomics involves everything from developing new equipment, including desk chairs that support the back properly and flexible splints to support the wrist while typing, to designing better ways to use the equipment, such as the proper way to hold a computer mouse.
OSHO has proposed new guidelines for better ergonomic standards, targeting jobs where workers perform repetitive tasks, whether they are in processing poultry or delivering packages. The proposal required employers that received reports from workers who were suffering from MSDs to respond promptly with an evaluation and follow-up health care. Workers who needed time off could receive 90 percent of their pay and 100 percent of their benefits. Not surprisingly, arguments for and against the proposal broke out. OSHO spokesperson Charles Jeffers claimed that the guidelines “will save employers $9 billion every year from what they’ve currently been spending on these problems.” Peg Seminario of the AFL-CIO noted that the guidelines did not go far enough because they did not cover “workers in construction, agriculture, or maritime, who have very serious problems.” Pat Cleary of the national Association of Manufacturers argued that “there’s a central flaw here and that is that there is no . . . consensus in the scientific or medical community about the causes of ergonomics injuries.” Debates over the proposed ruled’ merit were further clouded by the Small Business Administration’s prediction that implementing the standards would cost industries $18 billion. OSHO had forecast a mere $4.2 billion.
Just before he left office, President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law which was overturned by incoming President George Bush and the new Congress. Calling the workplace safety regulations “unduly burdensome and overly broad,” Bush signed a measure to roll back the new rules.
Where do these actions leave workers and businesses in regard to workplace injuries? Legally, businesses are not required to redesign work systems or continue full pay and benefits for an extended period after work-related injury. But if the goal of a company is to find and keep the best employees, perhaps developing good ergonomic practices makes good business sense. The high cost of treatment and turnover, not to mention lowered productivity, points toward prevention as a competitive strategy. “Good ergonomics in the office should not be a big burden in a company and may be a way to retain good employees.”
1. Do you agree or disagree that ergonomics in the workplace should be covered by federal regulations? Explain your answers.
2. Choose a job with which you are familiar and discuss the possibilities for repetitive stress injuries that could occur on this job and ways they could be prevented.
3. Imagine that you are the human resources manager for a company that hires workers for the selected in question 2. What steps might you encourage company officials to take to identify and prevent MSDs?