Bad News Letter

Case Overview

Truss Right is a roof truss manufacturer in the Midwest that has been leading the industry since 1999. A small operation in Middletown, Iowa, this company has seen significant changes since the economic downturn in 2008 but has rebounded in recent years. You’ve been hired recently as the Plant Coordinator, a position that puts you as the mediator between employees and management. When winter nears, Truss Right’s business slows down and overtime hours need to be limited.

The Plant Manager, John Harding, wants you to begin the process of limiting employees’ overtime. In particular, Mr. Harding wants to limit the overtime of one employee, David, earlier than is expected by David because seasonal workers are low priority for hours. Mr. Harding has also been suspicious of David’s work conduct based on some rumors. David’s salary is also one of the highest in the plant, even among full-time workers.

David’s employee profile is given below for you to evaluate the type of work he’s done with Truss Right. Jason Roberts, the Plant Supervisor, has given you some notes on David’s work habits and personal life. You also do a little investigating into David’s supposed conduct mentioned by Mr. Harding. Some videos have surfaced that capture David committing certain acts, and you are able to get your hands on them. Evaluate all of the information you have for David before informing him of Mr. Harding’s decision to limit his hours.

Employee Profile


Job Title:                               Salary :                       Age:                Experience:

Yard Forklift Driver              $15/hr                       32                   10 years

Work Profile:

David has been with the company working off and on between full and part-time. Mr. Harding understands that he is not a long term, permanent employee, but his experience, knowledge, and work ethic are unmatched.

David has previously been the Plant Supervisor, has worked in every production position, and knows all of the ins and outs of the job. His work ethic is also one of the best in the company because he is dependable, works 70+ hours per week, stays late every night and works every weekend.

David is extremely smart and adept at solving problems. His attention to details saves the company on several occasions, especially in the shipping yard where forklift drivers are the last line of quality. David has proven to be the best forklift driver Truss Right has ever had, and Mr. Harding trusts his abilities and judgment. David is well respected and liked by every employee in the plant, and his rare absence is often noticeable.

Personal Biography:









David is married with four kids, ages seven, four, two, and three months. Because David’s wife stays at home, his job is the only means of income for his family; and David’s salary in the summer carries his family through the months he is in graduate school, so every hour he works is crucial. David’s family has a mortgage and tuition fees that exhaust all of their income during the school year, so this job helps support them in the cold winter months.

Your task

Mr. Harding has asked you to write a bad news letter to David informing him of his reduced hours.  Take careful consideration of what you have found in David’s profile and your investigation into his conduct. Your letter should be empathetic, ethical, and professional.


Below is a link to Truss Right’s website where you can find information that might be helpful to your letter. There is also a video showing some of David’s workplace conduct. This might alter the way you approach your message, but it may not.

Truss Right Logo
Link to Website for Truss Right