Paula and Capstone Corporation Scenario
Paula’s bad luck continues. Five days after the events detailed in your last assignment, Paula returns to work at Capstone Corporation. Unfortunately, she used her company e-mail to send her mom a personal note about her injuries, despite being aware that Capstone’s company policy prohibits use of company e-mail for personal communication. Paula’s supervisor, Mikey Manager, discovers Paula’s violation and Paula is reprimanded. When Paula goes home, she uses her personal computer to post disparaging comments about her boss and Capstone Corporation on social media. The next day, Paula is fired from her job.
After several days of bad luck, Paula believes her luck is about to change. She finds a new job in a nearby town. Paula had been using the bus to go to work at Capstone Corporation, but she will need to purchase a car to commute to her new job. Fortunately, her neighbor Freddy Ford has just purchased a new vehicle and is selling his old Mustang. Paula meets with Freddy and agrees to purchase the Mustang for $1000. The parties also agree that Paula will bring Freddy the money the next day when she picks up the car. The next day, Paula calls Freddy and says, “I have the money. I’d like to come pick up my car.” Freddy replies that Paula is too late. He sold the car earlier in the day.
In a 6–10 paragraph paper, answer the following questions:
Does Paula have any legal claims against Capstone Corporation? What about Paula’s actions? Does Paula have a contract with Freddy to purchase the car? Consider the following:
- Does Paula have a right to privacy when using Capstone Corporation’s e-mail system? Discuss one’s right to privacy and relate it to the facts in the scenario.
- Can Paula be legally fired from her job for making negative comments about her boss and her company on social media? What about free speech? Discuss these issues and relate them to the facts of the scenario.
- Do Paula and Freddy have a contract for the sale of the Mustang? Discuss the elements of a contract and relate those elements to the facts of the scenario.
Paula Legal Claims against Capstone Corporation – Paula Plaintiff’s Really Bad Week, Part 2
Regarding being reprimanded by her boss, Paula does not have any legal claim against Capstone Corporation. This is because the corporation’s policy prohibits the use of company email by employees for personal communication. The manager was within his rights when he reprimanded Paula for using the company email to send her mother a personal note since it is against Capstone Corporation policy.
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Another legal claim question that arises from the scenario whether Capstone Corporation infringed Paula’s privacy. It is worth noting that the right to privacy asserts that the privacy of communication and correspondence must be inviolable except where otherwise prescribed by law. Notably, an employee’s right to privacy while using an employer’s email system is largely unprotected by personal privacy laws (Otto, 2016). According to Otto, the email system is considered an employer’s property; thus, employers have the right to monitor and view employee email. Therefore, Paula does not have a basis for a legal claim on personal privacy infringement since Capstone Corporation acted lawfully in monitoring and reviewing emails sent through the company’s email system.
As for whether Paula can be fired from her job for making negative comments about her boss and company on social media, this is a question of whether Capstone Corporation infringed her right to free speech. Under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), employees are free to complain about their terms and conditions of employment even if the statements are embarrassing or disparaging as long as the conversation is related to their terms and conditions of employment (Gross, 2017). Gross explains that terms and conditions of employment include but are not limited to performance review, safety issues, working conditions, wages, benefits, leaves of absence, respect, integrity, and culture issues, seniority, hours of work, and a grievance and arbitration process. Given that Paula posted disparaging comments about her boss and Capstone Corporation related to the terms and conditions of her employment (specifically grievance), she has a basis for a legal claim against Capstone Corporation. However, the company can defend itself by arguing that it did not fire Paula because of the disparaging posts but rather due to her violation of the company’s policy regarding using the company’s email system for personal communication.
Concerning whether Paula and Freddy have a contract of sale for the Mustang, one must identify the elements of a legally binding agreement to determine enforceability. According to Marsh (2017), a legally enforceable contract’s essential components include an offer, acceptance, consideration, and mutuality. From the facts presented in the scenario, it is clear that Paula and Freddy have an oral contract since Paula made an offer, Freddy accepted, the consideration aspect of consideration is fulfilled by the agreed purchasing price ($1,000) and, lastly, both parties exhibited the intention to create a legal relationship hence there was mutuality.
However, it is worth noting that besides meeting the four key elements of a contract, other requirements determine enforceability. To start with, the contract’s terms must be valid and legally binding (Marsh, 2017). Considering the agreement between Paula and Freddy, the contract entails valid and legally binding terms. Freddy is the owner of the Mustang and has agreed to sell it to Paula, who is a willing seller. The other requirement is that for a contract to be enforceable, it must not violate existing laws or regulations ((Marsh, 2017). On this requirement, the agreement between Paula and Freddy is not enforceable as it infringes the Statutes of Frauds. The Statute of Frauds requires that any contracts involving goods worth more than $500 must be in writing (Hillman, 2018). Since the two parties only had a verbal agreement, Paula does not have a basis for a legal claim against Freddy as their oral agreement violates the Statutes of Frauds.
To sum up, Paula has a basis for a legal claim against Capstone Corporation for firing her due to the disparaging comments she posted on social media. However, given her violation of the company’s policy on the previous day, the company seems to have the upper hand in the claim since it can argue that it fired her due to her unprofessional conduct. As for the claim related to the right to personal privacy, she does not have a legal basis since the company owns the email system and, as such, has the right to monitor and read emails sent via the system. Besides, an employee’s right to privacy while using an employer’s email system is largely unprotected by personal privacy laws. As for the agreement between Paula and Freddy, whereas they had an oral contract, it is not enforceable as it violates the Statutes of Frauds. Thus, Paula does not have a basis for a legal claim against Freddy.