Case writing tips

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As Leslie sat back and thought about the past week, she wondered what she should have done differently to avert the crises she had faced. First the Immigration authorities, then the newspaper, then her boss, then the regional manager. On her desk, the local newspaper (circulation 40000 ) lay open to the headline "INS BUSTS LOCAL RETAILER!", followed by a lead story about her store. She was quoted, her manager was quoted, and they had even called corporate! What next?

Leslie is a supervisor at a large retail establishment in a Midwestern city of about 75,000 people. The county unemployment rate is 7%, and has been steadily dropping month by month and is a full point below last year's level. Leslie knew that a tight labor market was nothing new to this area. Businesses are adept at coping because unemployment has remained low for so long. Mike Brooks, head of the local agency that tries to bring new business to the area, said, "There is no question that we have become the regional business center. We draw workers from surrounding counties to fill the jobs." The Director of the Federal Reserve Bank for the midwestern region stated, " There simply are not the people with the skills necessary to do the existing jobs." Hiring was and is brisk in the area. Last month, one manufacturing business hired 40, and two other manufacturing concerns are looking for 200 and 75 workers respectively. The low number of skilled workers available has already driven the prevailing wage up and employers who cannot offer high wages or competitive benefits find it difficult to find and retain workers. In Leslie's case, she knew that many people who worked at her store liked the flexible hours that the company was able to provide and this was more important to them than hourly pay. Many, however, stayed only as long as it took to get a higher paying job and then left. She was experiencing a turnover rate of about 40%, but this was not uncommon for this type of business in this climate. She did have what appeared to be an adequate applicant pool. Though in looking over the pool, she noticed that a majority were Latino. And that was the problem! Earlier this week, Immigration and Naturalization Service agents came to her store and arrested eight undocumented Latino workers. The men, who were earning minimum wage as stock boys and cafeteria workers, were taken to a back room by Leslie's manager when they reported to work and turned over to the INS. The men did not resist and agreed to return to Mexico. They were transported to the INS Chicago office and flown back (at government expense). Each employee had provided at the time of hire what store officials believed to be valid documentation. Leslie's boss said, "I am not well versed in all the particulars of what this documentation should look like, but after today, I'm sure I'll be much more versed. We were completely in the dark about this." The INS said the store will not be penalized because the store cooperated and the workers provided forged documents. An INS agent said," They were not particularly good forgeries, but the store is not required to make that call. But employers who knowingly employ undocumented workers or attempt to conceal them from the INS can be fined as much as $1000 per employee." Leslie knew how hard it was to find employees willing to work hard, on their feet for long periods of time doing physically demanding work, for near minimum wage. The workers taken by the INS were very good employees. "They were hard workers and very dependable. Its frustrating to lose good people like this." The workers were discovered when the INS asked for the store's I-9 forms, which require employees to provide documentation proving they may legally work in the U.S. That documentation may include SS cards, a driver's license or Green Card. The employer's fraudulent documents were discovered when INS agents tried to match numbers on their documents with worker names. After the INS visit, the next phone call Leslie got was from the regional supervisor. News travels fast! And she got an earful. This type of thing would not happen again, OR ELSE! The next visit was from her direct supervisor. Not only had he heard from the regional supervisor about the publicity, but who was going to do the work. They had eight new positions to fill. Leslie had to replace those workers, and pronto! She was left wondering what to do. Can you help?

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