US-Based Scenarios


Vladimir works for the United States Department of Homeland Security and reports directly to the Department Director. Unlike some of the other employees, Vladimir has a private office, which he’s able to lock. Because he enjoys considerable privacy in his work space, Vladimir sometimes comes in early or stays late to work on his own private matters, using his personal laptop and mobile devices. He also keeps some personal hard copy files in his desk, which he’s also able to lock.

This week, Lourdes, the office manager, got several complaints about the disappearance of Stairbackks coffee pods from the employee break room. Suspicious of Vladimir because of his heavy Russian accent, she decided to force the locks on his office door and desk while he was out for lunch to search for the stolen coffee. Although every drawer in his desk and filing cabinets was thoroughly searched, no coffee pods were found. In an effort to find out more about Vladimir, Lourdes decided to read through some of his personal files and to look at some of the email in his personal email account on the laptop that he had left running on his desk.

Just before embarking on the search, she noted in his personnel file that he was the likely “coffee culprit.” After the unsuccessful search, she sent a copy of his personnel file to a journalist friend of hers so that he could try to find out more about Vladimir. Later that afternoon, it was discovered that there had been no theft and that a new employee had moved the coffee pods to a different cabinet.

When Vladimir returned to work, a confidante told him what had transpired in his absence. Vladimir protested and demanded to see his personnel file, which Lourdes initially refused to provide. She later relented, but balked when he tried to make a copy of the note she had placed in his file and refused to accept his memo denying her accusation.

  • In light of the course reading (which, as always, includes the Canvas Lesson Commentary):
  • Identify and discuss the legal issues raised by Lourdes’ conduct and the claims that Vladimir may have in the circumstances, identify the laws that relate to these issues, and discuss how they apply to her conduct and his rights.
  • If additional information would be helpful to your analysis, identify that information and how it would impact your analysis.


USA First, a nonunion employer that operates a chain of workout facilities, has had several reports of theft in the ladies’ locker room at its San Jose, California gym. After two wallets and some jewelry were reported to have been stolen during the previous day’s Zumba class, Dave, the general manager, decided that Helga, the locker room attendant on duty at that time, was the most likely suspect. After calling her into his office, he locked the door and directed her to take a seat at the far end of the room. Startled, Helga asked if she could have a witness or some kind of a representative. Dave refused, told her to sit down, and started grilling her about her activities at the gym that previous day. When Helga started crying, Dave became so annoyed that he started yelling loudly that he knew she was a thief and that she should just confess and get it over with. In fact, by the end of his tirade, he was screaming at her. Because all of the offices at the gym are poorly insulated, the receptionist, three members and their guests, a yoga instructor, and the bottled water delivery guy heard every word Dave said, or rather, screamed.

Helga, now sobbing, denied that she had stolen anything from anyone and asked what she needed to do to save her job. Dave said that in order to avoid being fired, she had to pass a polygraph exam, terms that she accepted. After making some calls to arrange for the test, he terminated his meeting with Helga. Dave then, in an abundance of caution, made arrangements to have a surveillance camera installed in the ladies’ locker room, with a live feed directly to his office just in case there were any reported thefts in Helga’s absence.

  • In light of the course reading (which, as always, includes the Canvas Lesson Commentary):
  • Identify each legal issue that arises out of Dave’s conduct.
  • Identify and describe the rule the courts use to analyze each issue that you identified above. To receive points for this part of the question, you must reference a case in the course reading where the rule was applied to at least some of the issues that you identified. Be sure to provide the full name of the case and the page on which it appears in the course reading.
  • Discuss how the court applied the rule to the salient facts in that case.
  • Analyze our fact pattern, i.e., apply the rule to our fact pattern and describe the conclusion that you anticipate a court would reach based on the law and our facts with respect to each issue that you identified above.
  • If additional information would be helpful to your analysis, explain how and why it would impact the analysis.


You’re an employment specialist in USA First’s main business office. Thankfully, some of the managers out in the field actually consult with you from time to time. One of them, Sally, has called to pose some questions.

They all relate to a doctor’s note that a cleaning crew employee, Regina, submitted. It indicated that Regina was injured in a car accident and needed a few days of light duty work, which Sally was happy to provide. Sally wants to know if she can just put the doctor’s note in Regina’s personnel file. If not, what she should do with it?

Sally also reports that Petra, one of Regina’s coworkers, is upset about Regina not carrying her full load. Although Petra’s somewhat sympathetic to Regina’s plight (she apparently overheard Regina discussing her injuries), Petra wants to know more the true extent of Regina’s physical limitations and how long she’s going to be on light duty. Sally’s uncertain whether she can discuss this information with Petra or other coworkers who are likely to ask about it.

Sally adds that she recently attended a workshop related to medical issues and is wondering whether discussing this information with Petra or others could result in ADA, HIPAA, FMLA, or something called “privacy tort” issues, like intrusion upon seclusion and public disclosure of private facts.

  • In light of the course reading to date (which, as always, includes the Canvas Lesson Commentaries):
  • Identify the laws that relate to each issue that Sally has raised, discuss whether and how they apply here, and describe and explain the basis for the advice that you would give her in light that law.
  • If additional information would be helpful to your analysis, identify that information and how it would impact your analysis.

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