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Ethics and Corporate Responsibility in the Workplace and the World

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Ethics and Corporate Responsibility in the Workplace and the World

A Case Study of PharmaCARE

Institution: Strayer University

The stakeholders in this scenario include
1. The company, namely PharmaCARE which has a subsidiary known as CompCARE in Colberia.
2. WellCo which is the company that has purchased CompCARE
3. The employees of CompCARE
4. The indigenous population of Colberia
5. The government and regulatory agencies of Colberia.

Analyzing the ethics of PharmaCARE’s treatment of the Colberia’s indigenous population and its rank-and-file workers versus that of its executives.
We define business ethics as the principles and values that define acceptable conduct for business institutions. Acceptability of corporate behavior will be determine by workers, customers, competitors, government and regulatory agencies, special interest groups, and the community (Andersen, 2004). Several firms have faced legal suits due to the manner in which they have treated the public, workers, consumers, and the environment during their business activities. For instance, the competition bureau of Canada found Azko Nobel Chemicals BV guilty and they were charged in the federal court of Canada on August 18, 2003. The company had taken part in a conspiracy to fix market prices for a crucial food additive that was an essential ingredient for an important animal feed and a chemical use that was in several commercial and consumer products. The company was fined $2.9 million by the court (American Bar Association, 2002).
Many consumers as well as social interest groups believe that firms should not only aim at maximizing their profits but they also put into focus the social implications of their business activities. Social responsibility has been defined as the obligations by a business organization to maximize the positive impact that its business operations and minimize its negative impact on society (Andersen, 2004). Some of the very basic ethical and social responsibility issues have been put within the contact of laws and regulations that will encourage business organizations to be in conformity to societal standards, values, and attitudes. The minimum expectation for business managers is that they should abide to and uphold these rules and regulations (Griseri & Seppala, 2010). The majority of the legal and ethical issues that arise are as a result of choices that are deemed unethical, irresponsible, or otherwise acceptable by the society. It is however worth noting that not all actions that the society deems unethical may not necessarily be illegal since both legal and ethical issues are dynamic (Hines, 2000).
In this case, the manner in which PharmaCARE has treated Colberia’s indigenous population falls within the definition of unethical practices as well as unacceptable corporate behavior. To start with the company has unfair compensation policies that pay huge salaries to executives and exploit the rank-to-file workers. These workers receive poor salaries and are exposed to harsh and unsafe working conditions. In addition, the company subjects the workers to unsafe working conditions.
Determine whether Allen could legally fire each of the three (3) workers—Donna, Tom, and Ayesha. Suggest steps he should take to minimize the risks to his department and the company.
The move by Allen to fire Donna, Tom, and Ayesha falls under wrongful and unfair dismissal as outlined below.
1. Donna – This employee health has deteriorated as a result of unsafe and unhealthy working environment. She wants to sue the company for compensation. Her dismissal will therefore be unfair and it would amount to denying the right to seek legal redress for the suffering she has undergone as a result of her employer’s negligence.
2. Tom – Tom is aware of the unsafe and unhealthy working conditions that the company has failed to address. He therefore threatens to notify OSHA which is charged to enforce work safety and safety standards.
3. Ayesha – Ayesha claims that she has been discriminated by the company on the basis of her religion and as a result, she has not gotten promotion in a long time.
Unfair dismissal has been defined as the act by an employer to terminate an employment contract for reasons that are unfair and inadmissible. A dismissal is said to be unfair if it is done on any on the following grounds:
1. Where the employee has been dismissed without a valid or genuine reason
2. Where the employee has been dismissed on the grounds of whistle blowing, also referred to as protected disclosure
3. Where an employee has been dismissed on health and safety grounds.
An employee who has been unfairly can sue the employer for reinstatement or compensation. In such a case, the employer can only defend themselves by establish that the dismissal was on the basis of a substantial reasons which include gross misconduct, incapability of the employee to perform assigned tasks, or redundancy. The statutory rights of the employee will always guide the decision of the court.
It is unlawful for an employer to dismiss an employee or select an employee for redundancy on unfair grounds. As per the Equal Employment Act, it is illegal for any employer to discriminate an employee on the basis of their gender, age, race, color, religion, or nation of origin. However an employee can be dismissed if their work performance is unsatisfactory or when the employer has genuine economic and operational reasons. In addition, it is illegal for an employer to dismiss an employee on the basis of injury. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), every employee has the right to a safe and healthy workplace. In addition, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) accord the right to workers to take unpaid leaves for medical reasons (Hogler, 2004).
Based on these arguments, we conclude that Allen may not legally fire the said employees. This is because he lacks valid reasons for doing so. When dismissing an employee, an employer should always ensure that there is a valid reason for such a dismissal and take the appropriate steps in ensuring that there is procedural fairness. This will help the employer to minimize the risk that would arise if the employee files a successful lawsuit on the grounds of unfair dismissal. Where a court of law has to determine whether the employer’s claim that the dismissal was fair, the court will always ask two questions namely:
1. Did the employer undertake a fair process when dismissing the employee?
2. Was the dismissal harsh, unjust, or reasonable?
To minimize the risk to the company, Allen will therefore be required to ensure that there is a fair reason to dismiss any of the employees and that he acts reasonably in the dismissal.

Determine the whistle-blowing opportunities, obligations, and protections that could benefit Allen. Explain why and how Allen would benefit.
Allen should encourage the employees to be free to raise ethical and safety concerns in the workplace in order to enable the company and the employees to address and solve such issues. To achieve this, he should be more receptive to the disclosure of such information and ensure the protection of whistleblowers. The employees should feel safe from reprisal or any reprisal threats when they share information about safety and ethical concerns within the company (Johnson, 2003). This means that Allen should help the company to develop a non threatening environment within the organization where whistleblowers are valued and rewarded through positive encouragement, candid feedback, and reasonable problem solution (Lewis, 2001). In order to strengthen whistleblowing in the organization, Allen can take the following measures:
1. Emphasize on organizational change and improvement brought about by efforts that include employee involvement, process reengineering, and Total Quality Management (TQM).
2. Examine organizational programs in order to select supervisors and managers who the employees are comfortable with to enable them to freely share information on any illegal and unsafe activities in the organization.
3. Ensure that the employees have an understanding on the nature of the problems on which they should share information, how to handle such information, and what safeguards exist against reprisal.
Allen could benefit from whistle blowing opportunities if the company creates an enabling environment for whistleblowing. Some of the benefits that Allen would receive include:
1. Allen will be able to deter malpractices within the organization and avoid excessive crisis management which will contribute to efficiency and effectiveness in the organization (Lewis, 2001).
2. Whistle blowing will ensure accountability within the organization, which will go a long way in promoting the company’s reputation (Johnson, 2003).
3. Allen and the company will be able to ensure that the company complies with the law and this will minimize external disclosures which may result in penalties and serious consequences to the company.
Assessing PharmaCARE’s environmental initiative against the backdrop of its anti-environmental lobbying efforts and Colberian activities.
PharmaCARE exposes its workers to unhealthy working conditions. Many of the employees have been falling sick as a result of inhaling toxic substances arising from the company’s laboratories. Even with full knowledge of the situation, the management has refused to take any remedial action and the workers continue to suffer. Further, the company has been accused of supplying an unsafe drug to the market that has been associated with many cardiac deaths. As a result of these happenings, the company’s purported environmental stewardship initiative will be rendered ineffective especially in the wake of the lobbying efforts against the company’s operations in Colberia. The company has engaged in acts that may be considered unethical and socially unacceptable.
PharmaCARE therefore lacks the moral authority to spearhead environmental matters since its reputation in the public has been seriously damaged. In addition, the company’s alleged mistreatment of its workers subjects it to sabotage of its environmental efforts especially when the workers’ health continue to deteriorate because of the company’s negligence.
Analyzing the original purposes of and the changes to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and identifying the provisions that apply to PharmaCARE in the scenario provided.
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) was enacted in 1980. This statute was then amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) in 1986. CERCLA empowers the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to investigate and pursue cleanup of abandoned sites contaminated by hazardous substances and provides a trust fund for that purpose (Switzer & Bulan, 2002).
CERCLA further extends liability for site pollution to several classes of potential defendants at once. This has been described as a powerful measure that will force responsible parties to cater for the costs of cleanup. The clean-up provisions of CERCLA cover all substances that have been designated as hazardous and include Clean Water Act (CWA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability ACT (CERLCA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Clean Air Act (CAA), and Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) (Switzer & Bulan, 2002).
PharmaCARE would be liable under CERLCA for polluting the environment and exposing employees to toxic substances that have had serious effects on their health. The company would be required to compensate all the employees whose health has been affected as a result of these toxic laboratory emissions. In addition, the company would be liable under the CAA for polluting the air and under TSA due to the emission of toxic substances.

References
American Bar Association. (2002). Handbook on antitrust grand jury investigations. Chicago, Ill: American Bar Association.
Andersen, B. (2004). Bringing business ethics to life: Achieving corporate social responsibility. Milwaukee, Wisc: ASQ Quality Press.
Day, R., & Rowland, E. (2003). Health, safety and environment legislation: A pocket guide. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry.
Griseri, P., & Seppala, N. (2010). Business ethics and corporate social responsibility. Australia: South-Western Cengage Learning.
Hogler, R. L. (2004). Employment relations in the United States: Law, policy, and practice. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications.
Johnson, R. A. (2003). Whistleblowing: When it works and why. Boulder [u.a.: Rienner.
Switzer, C. S., & Bulan, L. A. (2002). CERCLA: Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. Chicago, Ill: Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, American Bar Association.

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