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Basic fact pattern applicable to all questions:

You are the human resources manager at a large law firm. You have been asked to hire a receptionist. The essential functions of this position are: (1) redirecting telephone and written correspondence; (2) greeting clients and other visitors; and (3) performing assorted office tasks, such as copying, faxing and drafting letters and emails. You have an immediate supervisor – an office manager – but you will be making the hiring decision and managing the receptionist. You initially have five applicants, and you ultimately hire a female applicant.

You are aware that the receptionist will have immediate contact with clients, some of whom are angry and combative. The receptionist also has access to some sensitive information (client secrets and privileged information) and firm financial information (bank statements and a petty cash drawer and ledger)

Question 5:

Three more months pass. At this point, Janice is beginning to argue with other paralegals. During one argument with a paralegal, Janice becomes physically aggressive, and states that she will “hurt” the paralegal if she does not get out of her face. You are conflicted, because the paralegals often argue among themselves, and you feel they may be provoking Janice. You decide to retain her.

Then Janice gets into a verbal altercation with a client visiting the firm for a meeting. The altercation escalates, and Janice attacks the customer with a letter opener, causing serious injuries to the customer. Janice is arrested, and the arresting officers inform you that there was a current warrant out for her arrest for domestic abuse battery. The officers also inform you that Janice had previously been convicted of simple assault arising from a personal altercation, and that a restraining order was in place prohibiting her from contacting a former boyfriend.

  • You terminate Janice’s employment. The next day, however, you receive a letter from the client threatening to sue the firm.
  • Detectives return seeking a copy of Janice’s personnel file, along with “any other information the firm can share” about Janice. The detectives claim they are investigating the domestic abuse battery case, but provide you with no paperwork along with their request. You give the detectives Janice’s personnel file, the records of her pre-employment testing results, copies of her recorded phone calls, and copies of the video surveillance of the petty cash drawer.

What legal issues are presented? Do you face potential legal liability?


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