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Erin Brockovich Accounting Values

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Submitted By apollo
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For this assignment, I chose to write about the ethical dilemma presented in the movie Erin Brockovich. In this movie, Erin Brockovich, played by Julia Roberts, is a single mother who recently lost a law suit against a doctor from a recent car wreck. She has gone through a period of bad luck and marriage problems, and early on the movie it seems like Brockovich may have hit the hardest point in her life. From her persistence, Brockovich’s lawyer Edward Masry, played by Albert Finney, helped her out by extending her a job offer in his office as a file clerk. Brockovich slowly adapts to her new life in the office, and as she is working she discovers files detailing medical records involved from a Pacific Gas and Electric real-estate purchase. Brockovich begins to venture down a twisted and controversial path to get to the bottom of what she believes is a major cover up. As she helps to bring to light the facts surrounding the situation, Brockovich becomes one of the most famous whistleblowers in history. Brockovich’s journey sees her dealing with major adversity as she brings a lawsuit which resulted in the largest direct action lawsuit settlement in the United States. As Erin Brockovich becomes settled at her new job in at the law firm, she is able to stumble upon information about Pacific Gas and Electric detailing the purchasing of a house owned by Donna Jensen in Hinkley, California. Looking at these details further, Brockovich notices the frequency of some strange illnesses in Hinkley. Brockovich travels to the town to make sure she is following the right path. Brockovich eventually meets a man who says he was supposed to cover-up Pacific Gas and Electric’s wrongdoings by destroying some documents, but prevalent medical conditions harming workers of surrounding ponds motivated him to disobey his orders. All of these incidents lead Brockovich to using a real estate document from the 1960s that links a conversation that an executive from Pacific Gas and Electric had with the station that exists in Hinkley acknowledging the existence of local water being contaminated by their station’s practices, and the executive ordered the station to keep quiet about it. With all of this information in front of her, Erin Brockovich decides that this incident cannot be left untold. Brockovich goes to the fullest extent to unearth the cover-up in Hinkley by bringing it forward into the judiciary system. Pacific Gas and Electric had been contaminating the drinking water with chromium, which was used to fight corrosion in their cooling tower. The wastewater was pulled from the cooling towers and fed into local lakes and ponds. These bodies of water were not lined, and the contamination seeped into the groundwater. From there, the drinking supply was fully contaminated. With all of the facts backing her, Brockovich is able to successfully sue Pacific Gas and Electric, and they had to pay three hundred and thirty-three million dollars to over six hundred different plaintiffs. This was a huge lawsuit that garnered great national attention. Brockovich was heralded for saving the community from the station. Brockovich’s actions ensured the contamination was brought to a stop, and helped to increase awareness nationally of the dangers and possibilities of companies harming local environments without proper temperance. When you examine how Brockovich solved this ethical dilemma, she may have come to her decision using a deontological approach. The company’s actions were not justified by any means, and Brockovich had to be unyielding in her pursuit of justice. But even on a broader scale, Brockovich’s stage of moral development could be classified either as conventional or post-conventional. Conventionally she made decisions by abiding social norms and for the law and order morality. Post-conventionally Brockovich held universal ethical principles by upholding Pacific Gas and Electric to the same standards as everybody else. In the case of Hinkley, Erin Brockovich was in a position where she had little to no clout in her company, but she was guided by her principles and that led her to pursue justice when nobody else had the courage. Erin Brockovich had few other alternatives she could have chosen that would have achieved the same result. Brockovich could have pushed this investigation on to somebody else, or backed away as things thickened. But she did not allow herself to succumb to these fears because the end result of passing along this investigation would have been a dead end. Nobody else was willing to pursue this case like she was. A business student can take away many lessons from this movie. The main focus of takeaways from this movie for students centers on ethics. The main plot of the movie revolves around an ethical dilemma involving a corporation. For business students going into the corporate world, ethical dilemmas will present themselves daily. Knowing that the avenue to fair justice leads to the appropriate result will serve students well. This is just one of many examples of cover-ups in corporations that backfire on those who tried to hide the truth. If students are vigilant from day one of the workplace, they will find themselves on the right side of the line. In regards to corporate governance, this movie implies that the relationships that existed inside of Pacific Gas and Electric prevented a conflict of interests. In this case, the decision to hide and cover-up details of the contamination came from the top to the bottom. Brockovich helped discover the information that linked the phone call between the executive had with the station at Hinkley. I think this movie helped to show that a company must breed a culture where whistleblowing is truly encouraged and expected from all employees. There may be a separate governing body that employees could inform aside from the traditional straight-line chain of command. Erin Brockovich became famous from exposing Pacific Gas and Electric’s cover-up of the contamination of the water supply in Hinkley, California with chromium. I believe this movie did a good job of portraying Brockovich as not being motivated by fame or publicity to expose the truth. She did it because she truly believed it to be the ethically correct decision, and this is a good lesson for business students and others alike to take with them from this watching this movie.

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