Essay on Employment Contracts: Termination of Coach Mike Leach

Published: 2021-08-15 11:18:21
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Carnegie Mellon University
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The controversial firing of coach Mike Leach is tantamount to a breach of contract by his employers. Under an employment contract, it is necessary to ascertain that an employee was in direct contravention of the terms of his contract to facilitate a summary dismissal. The details given however are not sufficient to demonstrate that there was such a breach of contract. According to the details, the coach was fired for having athletes stand in a shed following a mild concussion. By doing so, it was claimed that the coach failed to assure fair and responsible treatment of the athletes. However, it is also apparent that medical procedures required that the players stand outside the field of play following a mild concussion. Therefore, it can be argued that the actions taken by the coach were not in contravention of his rules of employment. Instead of having players stand out in the sun, the coach had them stand in a room, an act that can be argued as human. To facilitate any declaration that the coach acted irresponsibly, it is imperative to establish two facts. First, information is needed to show that the coach discriminated against players with concussions by having them stand in the shed. That is, it must be shown beyond reasonable doubt that standing in the shed was an act that victimized concussed players. Therefore, evidence must be presented to show that other injured players were treated differently than concussed players. Secondly, it must be shown that if the coach discriminated against concussed players, the employee had the right to summarily dismiss the coach.

In relation to whether the Leachs behavior was tantamount to cruelty, it is imperative to again determine whether standing in the sun for a prolonged period of time, as required by medical procedures in the school, was better than standing in a room that was ventilated and air-conditioned. Concussed players, by virtue of their injury, were not capable of taking part in further sporting activities. Therefore, having them stand out in the in the field was of relatively no use to both the players and the team. It can, therefore, be argued that providing the players with a comfortable environment to recover from their injury was a much better option, on humane grounds. However, it can be argued that the coach was irresponsible for failing to follow the directions of the medical doctors who required players to stand out in the field following a concussion. According to the employment contract, if Coach Leach was to breach any rules in his contract, negligently or intentionally, he was subject to disciplinary actions and penalties which included termination of the contract and adjustment in compensation. However, having players stand in the shed as opposed to the field may not legally equate to an irresponsibility on the Leachs person. The coach had taken action on concussed players, even if the action did not follow the directives of the school letter for letter.

Hence, it becomes apparent, outside of irresponsible behavior, the termination was as a result of money. The employment contract was canceled before the coach could receive a bonus. Hence, according to the contract of employment, the university was only eligible to pay the coach a base salary, any earned compensation based on the performance of the coach. Therefore, the school, following the termination, could not pay the coach the bonus. On the other hand, if the school terminated the coachs employment contract without cause, it would mean that the coach would receive remuneration amounting to the number of years left on his contract. Under the contract, the coach would also earn supplemental compensation. That would prove to be a substantial amount of money, hence it is plausible that the school sought to terminate the employment for cause so as to avoid paying the amount due to the coach after the cancellation of his contract. Hence, the vague reason for dismissal amounts to the school stating that it would not pay the coach for the remaining time of his contract and any earned supplemental income.

From the analysis provided, it is apparent that the employment contracts should be valued at the performance level and not the personal satisfaction level. In this regard, a contract for employment can be outlined in accordance with the performance of the employee such that the employee knows what is expected of him. Such an evaluation helps avoid instances similar to the experience of Coach Leach, where without any evidence of a contractual breach, the employer can terminate the contract.

Thus, it would be imperative to ensure that employment contracts are free from the whims of personal satisfaction, as this leaves one party to the contract essentially under duress in the performance of the contract. The duress emanates from the fact that the employee does not know when the employers personal motives may change, leading to avoidance of the contract. Personal satisfaction denotes a situation where an employee is at the mercy of the employees personal preferences. In such a situation, when the employer feels that the employee has served his or her purpose, it can terminate the contract for cause. Cause here would be satisfied by the personal motives of the employer.

Employees should have leeway to ensure that the contract between them and the employer are protected against the whims and personal motives of the employer. While entering into an employment contract, employees essentially agree to perform their part while employees agree to the same. Having one side determine if the other side has met is contractual duty, buy scrutinizing if the party has contributed to its personal satisfaction is an unfair principle. The nature of contracts and the legal system is to ensure that parties have a chance at equity and fairness. Contracts based on personal satisfaction eliminate fairness as it places one of the parties at the mercy of the other. In Leachs case, the school terminated the contract because of financial motives, and the colorful nature of the coach. These are both personal motives, and they should not be used as basis for terminating an employment contract. An employee who has particular interests that contravene those of the employer, for instance, supporting a different football team other than that supported by the employer should not be fired. Similarly, the colorful nature of Coach Leach is not a ground for dismissal as it amounts to workplace discrimination. If discrimination is a redress for employment termination, then instances, where personal motives are used to gauge the value of an employment contract, need to be stopped and outlawed. For these reasons, employment contracts should be based on performance and not personal satisfaction.

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