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Business - Treating Employees.docx

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Philosophy 2074F/G
Michael Herbert

ETHICAL TREATMENT OF EMPLOYEES  All interests of the stockholders are given priority over the interests of the other stakeholders  Employees primarily want to be treated as persons who are genuine partners in the business enterprise STATUS AND SCOPE OF EMPLOYEE RIGHTS  Employment-at-will principle. This principle says that in the absence of a specific contract or law, an employer may hire, fire, denote or promote an employee whenever the employer wishes. Moreover, the employer may act with justification, with inadequate justification or with no justification at all  Some might argue that the decline in the number of US workers who belong to unions has not significantly increased the number of employees who are at risk of an unjust dismissal  A number of corporations have taken steps to make it more difficult for employees to use company manuals and policy statements to protect their jobs  A large corporation cannot allow employees to refuse to abide by a corporate decision whenever it conflicts with a personal moral position  The most important contribution of capitalism is providing work. Job security is often ranked higher than increased pay in terms of what employees most want from employers  The idea that a person can come to hold a right to one’s job is not widely held WORKER SAFETY, OCCUPATIONAL RISK, AND THE RIGHT TO KNOW  Although little is currently understood about the knowledge and comprehension of workers, evidence from the least some industries indicates that ignorance is a causal factor in occupational illness or injury  The regulation of workplace risks has consistently sought to determine an objective level of acceptable risk and then to ban or limit exposure above that level  Individuals need the information upon which the objective standard is based to determine whether the risk it declares acceptable is acceptable to them  Substantial ambiguity prevails when the experts are uncertain about the risks and dangerous dose levels  Employees have moral obligations to respect the property of the corporation to abide by employment contracts and to operate within the bounds of the company’s procedural rules  Duska challenges the assumption that the employee has a duty of loyalty to the employer. He argued that loyalty can apply only in a relationship that transcends self interests and must be based on a stable relationship of trust and confidence  In Friedman’s view, the only concern of the firm is to manage its assets to obtain profits for the stockholders, and the only concern of the workers is to get the best working conditions they can. Loyalty simply isn’t in the picture  The duty of loyalty is not absolute. That an employee should be loyal is a prima facie duty  Many of the moral grounds for employee loyalty have been destroyed. Commentators refer to the collapse of the social contract between a company and its employees  Whistle blowing seems to violate a moral obligation to loyalty EMPLOYMENT AT WILL AND DUE PROCESS – WERHANE AND RADIN rd  Howard Smith 3 was hired by the American Greetings Corporation as a materials handler at the plant in Osceola Arkansas – 1989 when he became involved in a dispute with his shift leader  The shift leader hit him, the next day Smith was fired  He did not have any special legal protection  According to the common law principle of employment at will EAW Smith’s job at American Greetings could therefore legitimately be terminated at any time without cause  Smith challenged his firing in the Arkansas court system as a tort of outrage – occurs when an employer engages in extreme or outrageous conduct or intentionally inflicts terrible emotional stress. If such a tort is found to have occurred, the action, in this case, the dismissal can be overturned  The court held that the firing was not in violation of law  Howard Smith lost his case and his job  Interestingly, while employees in the private sector of the economy tend to be regarded as at will employees, public sector employees have guaranteed rights, including due process, and are protected from demotion, transfer or firing without cause  EAW thus sidesteps the requirement of procedural and substantive due process in the workplace, but it does not preclude the institution of such procedures or the existence of good reasons for employment decisions  Reciprocal obligations have resulted in a more careful spelling out of employment contracts, the development of elaborate grievance procedures and in general less arb
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