Sample Case Study on Abuse of Authority & Violation of Employee Rights

Abuse of Authority and Violation of Employee Rights

Many organizations have a tendency of abusing their authority by violating their employee rights. Abuse of office can occur in several forms, which may lead to violation of employee rights. The federal law prohibits abuse of authority, where any employee who has the power to direct others is restricted from granting any preference to another employee to advance the prospects of such employee. Racial discrimination is one of the abuses of authority that can affect the organizational productivity and effectiveness. Many organizations utilize the four-frame model for organizational assessment, development, as well as making changes, as it offers the chance to look at an issue in different angles. The application of the four-frame model will assist in analyzing the problem in the case study of abuse of authority and infringement of employee rights.

Case Study

I am a female teacher who teaches computer basics in a country where the education system is separated. Female schools are detached from male schools, and no male teacher is supposed to teach in a female school. I am lucky to be working in a female school, where I have an experience of five years. My worry concerns how the administration treats its employees based on their race. My fellow teacher who has worked in this institution for about two years is a victim of racial discrimination. Her class has been performing well for the last one year. She wanted to enroll for a software development course. In order to enroll in this course, she was required to get an approval from the school administrator. Since her class had performed well during the last semester, she was quite sure that the administrator would grant her a recommendation.

Unfortunately, the school administrator refused to accept the teacher’s request, with an explanation that she did not perform to the school’s expectations. The administrator proceeded to approve a request of another teacher who had performed worse than my colleague had. I came to realize later that my colleague was denied a request because she did not belong to the administrator’s race. The administrator has abused her authority through discriminating my colleague in a manner that tends to interfere with her career. The administrator has poisoned the working environment by demonstrating incompetency, favoritism, and ignorance to the employee rights. Under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it is unlawful to discriminate an employee because of their race. The workplace should be a place where employees should feel appreciated and assured of their safety while at work.

Application of the Four-Frame Model

Discrimination of employees based on their races is a common practice in many organizations. However, this practice is against employees’ rights, and managers who encourage such misbehavior can be accused of abusing authority. Such problems can be handled through the four-frame model that expresses how organizations can be managed effectively. According to Lunernberg and Ornstein (2012), it was Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal, who discovered the four-frame model that perceives organizations as structural frames, human resource frames, political frames, and symbolic frames (p. 38). Each frame plays a critical role in guaranteeing the success of the organization. The four-frame model can assist in explaining racial discrimination in the workplaces. The four-frame theory can also help in making recommendations on reframing the institution.

  1. Structural Frame:

The structural frame of any organization underlines the roles, relationships, and organizational goals. Structures are developed according to the organizational environment and technology. The designer emphasizes on the status of the organization before developing the frame. The structural frame coordinates sharing of responsibilities, rules, hierarchies, and policies within the organization. The structural frame assumes that organizations work perfectly when rationality reigns over personal thinking and extraneous pressures (Bolman & Deal, 2008, p. 47). The problem with structural frame is that it may fail to fit a given situation.

In a school setup, the administration ensures that every employee knows his/her roles, relates well with other employees, and is working toward achieving the institutional goals. The performance of students relies largely on the institution’s structures. The administrator has failed on her role, as she does not ensure that all employees enjoy equal privileges, and their working environment can guarantee high productivity. The structural frame should have offered more choices in resolving the issue of poor performance, rather than undermining the teacher’s effort through discrimination. The only way that the structure can be reframed is through designing a structure that encourages logical thinking and accommodate different levels of command.

  1. Human Resource Frame

This frame views an organization as an extended family made up of people who have various needs, feelings, skills, constraints, fears, and intolerances. It is not easy to find freedom in organizations unless there is an understanding of how people relate to the organizations that they work in (Bolman & Deal, 2008, p. 121). This frame offers employees the power to rebel against outdated beliefs and old mind-set that hinder them from achieving the organizational goals.

Racial discrimination creates a gap between employees and organization, leading to overall poor performance. Racial discrimination does not encourage innovation while teamwork cannot guarantee high productivity. The school administrator is not taking her responsibility effectively to ensure success of the institution. By attending the employees, the school can manage to meet the needs of every teacher, as well as other employees without discrimination. The school administration should encourage interpersonal relationships, where employees are given more priorities regardless of their racial background. When teachers are brought closer to the administration, they feel appreciated and motivated to undertake their duties efficiently. The human resource frame can be reframed through creating an environment where both the organization and employees will benefit through coexistence.

  1. Political Frame

The political frame perceives organizations as arenas, or competition grounds, where various interests emerge to acquire the scarce resources. The person in control may coerce his/her subordinates to accept his/her agendas in order to win resources. Conflict is widespread due to varied needs, individual and collective perspectives, as well as lifestyles (Lunernberg & Ornstein, 2012, p. 39). Coercion and compromise are essential part of political frame. Coalitions are usually formed to attain a given interest, but they end after attain certain goals.

A college environment is quite challenging to teachers, who have to counsel students against rebellion, and to advise them on following college rules. Teachers cannot win student trust if they are racially discriminated. They have to endure differences in values and perceptions, which are advocated by the institution’s administration. The administrator is misusing her authority through favoring some employees, thus, creating discord between the institution and employees. The institution has assumed the responsibility of deciding who gets what without any consultation.

Effective management that is free from coercion is essential in offering proper leadership and determining organizational effectiveness. It is the responsibility of the administrator to negotiate, create alliances, and build networks, to ensure that employees serve the interests of the institution without being discriminated. Since a school is a coalition of numerous participants with different preferences, the administration should ensure that interests of all participants are served effectively. Allowing teachers to form unions can assist in safeguarding their rights and achieving their personal goals while the school will benefit from having competent teachers.

  1. Symbolic Frame

In this frame, the organization is perceived through its culture. Symbols in organizations are utilized to inspire the employees to achieve the organizational goals through rituals and ceremonies. According to Bolman and Deal (2008), symbolic frame depicts how humans make sense out of the disorganized, indefinite world that they live in (p. 248). The organization becomes a theater where meanings are more essential than results. Some individuals perceive symbols as patriotism while others perceive them as oppression. Symbolic frame does not consider rationality, as it does not believe in following rules or policies.

Racial discrimination that the administrator demonstrated to my colleague may have created a meaning to the administrator, but it offended the teacher. The administrator failed to play her part correctly, making her actions loose meaning. The administration may lose the trust it has with its employees by practicing racial discrimination, which is a violation to their rights. Culture and symbols are vital in directing the institution toward organizational effectiveness. Leaders are challenged to maintain faith towards their followers, and create meaning to their actions. The appropriate recommendation in reframing symbols is to emphasize on the organizational vision, and encourage certain beliefs that the organization holds dear.

Ethical Tensions in the Frame Study

Ethics involves following rules and regulations that are acceptable and recognized by many people. However, ethical tension may occur when an employee senses threat in his/her professional duty. In any organizational leadership, managers and employees possess values that are rarely the same. Sometimes, bureaucracies that are advocated in the structural frame leave employees feeling exposed, helpless, and powerless. Ethical distress can happen when an employee feels that the management does not apply fairness in dealing with organizational issues, such as racial discrimination, leading to misuse of power.

In human resource frame, the administrator may have an interest in promoting certain people in the community and may require the help of her employees to achieve her goals. However, the employees may be pursuing individuality and personal satisfaction, thus, creating a conflict between them and the management. When conflict arises with the organization, individuals tend to offer resistance, or opt to leave the organization. When power, or authority fall in the wrong hands, ethical tension may arise, leading to organizational incompetence. According to Northouse (2012), the list of potential conflicts of values is endless, but finding a balance between leaders’ views and followers’ views is usually possible, which is fundamental to ethical leadership (p. 240).




The four-frame model is critical in reframing the organization in order to achieve its objectives. Issues concerning abuse of authority and infringement of employee rights can be handled through the four-frame model, which offers directions to reframe organizations. The structural frame focuses on goals and division of roles to attain organizational effectiveness while human resource frame emphasizes on individual needs, feelings and limitations in achieving organizational goals. Political frame concentrates on the competition of power through coercion, bargaining and compromise. Symbolic frame focuses on culture and meanings of various practices. Ethical tension may occur when employees are in dilemma of who to consult when a problem emerges. The key to effective organizational management is to reframe an issue by looking at it in different perspectives in order to offer solutions on issues such as racial discrimination.











Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T. E. (2008). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Lunenburg, F. C., & Ornstein, A. C. (2012). Educational administration: Concepts and practices. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth Pub. Co.

Northouse, P. G. (2012). Introduction to leadership: Concepts and practice. Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications.