Magazine article Personnel Journal

The Price of Lax Policy Enforcement

Magazine article Personnel Journal

The Price of Lax Policy Enforcement

Article excerpt

The Texas Supreme Court has affirmed a jury's award of $600,000 to an employee terminated for violating an employer's anti-nepotism policy, which had not been enforced during 17 years of the plaintiffs employment.

Hortencia Portilla began working for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. at its store in Port LaVaca, Texas, in 1965. Her brother, Reynaldo Reyes, transferred to the same store four years later and was named manager. Portilla continued to work under her brother's supervision for 17 years.

Under a Goodyear policy in effect since 1947, a store manager is prohibited from overseeing/supervising a family member. In the event a relative is hired by the store, the policy requires that the relative accept a transfer or be terminated, absent a waiver granted by the company headquarters in Akron, Ohio. Despite the policy, the family relationship between Reyes and his sister was known by several senior levels of management at Goodyear.

A 1987 audit by the company brought the matter to the attention of management in Akron, Ohio. As a result, Portilla was directed to transfer to Houston or be fired. Unable to transfer because of her husband's job and family commitments, Portilla was terminated after 22 years of employment.

Following her termination, Portilla brought suit against Goodyear, claiming that her termination breached an implied contract to terminate only upon a showing of good cause. …

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