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Case Study: It Wouldn't Be Fair to Her


Based on the case study: Consider Carrie Taylor's

reasoning. Was it sound? Should she have offered the position to Lynn? How would you respond to the allegations in the complaint?


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Case Study: "It Wouldn't Be Fair to Her"

Nurse recruiter Carrie Taylor was experiencing some of the same problems as others in the region who did the same kind of work. Because of a widespread nursing shortage, she had positions that often required weeks or months to fill. Candidates of all skill levels and degrees of desirability were chronically in short supply. Carrie's needs were particularly acute in critical care areas and in her medical center's transitional care unit, where people were sent for rehabilitation services or to await placement in long-term care facilities. In view of these acute needs, Carrie was especially cheered when she received an application from an experienced nurse who desired a position in the transitional care unit.

The applicant was a registered nurse named Lynn Taylor. She was not related to Carrie, but their common name provided a perfect conversational icebreaker. Lynn interviewed well, but Carrie was dismayed by some of what she saw and much of what she heard. Lynn's small stature, frail build, and apparent age disappointed Carrie. Lynn Taylor appeared to be in her middle fifties. Carrie was put off because she knew how demanding, both physically and mentally, the transitional care unit could be. When Carrie asked Lynn about a significant gap in her work history, without going into great detail Lynn said enough so that Carrie could readily conclude that Lynn had undergone breast cancer surgery.

Based on the interview, Lynn Taylor was not offered the position for which she applied. Carrie felt badly about not having anything to offer Lynn but was convinced that Lynn would be unable to keep up with the demands of the transitional care unit.

Some weeks after the Lynn Taylor interview, the transitional care position remained unfilled. At the same time, the medical center received a complaint Lynn had filed with the State Division of Human Rights. The document claimed that Lynn Taylor had been illegally denied employment based on age and disability. Because the complaint entered the organization via the human resources (HR) department, the HR director met with Carrie in an attempt to determine whether the charge of discrimination might be valid. Carrie explained the basis for her decision, adding, "She seems like a nice lady and she's a knowledgeable nurse, but she's older and physically limited. It just wouldn't be fair to put her in a position where she's bound to fail."

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