Jagjeet Kaur Dhawan
Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility
Chapter 16: Employee Stakeholders: Privacy, Safety, and Health
Outline: Right to privacy in the workplace, workplace health and safety, and Summary
The chapter focuses on an employee’s right to:
Right to privacy:
- Right to keep one’s personal affairs to oneself and to know how information about one is
According to human resources expert Ellen Bayer, “Privacy in the workplace” is a large
Most experts say that privacy means the right to keep personal affairs to oneself and to know
how information about one is being used.
Patricia Werhane, a business ethicist, opts for a broader definition. She says that privacy
- Right to be left alone
- Right to autonomy
- Right to determine when, how, and to what extent personal information is communicated
Personal information protection and electronic documents act (PIPEDA)
Five issues of employee privacy:
- Collection and use of employee information in personnel files:
What information can employees gather about their workers? What methods can the
boss use to gain access to personal information? (these are the central ethical
questions facing organizations in the area of workplace privacy)
- Testing of employees:
Employers naturally want to ensure that their organization is made up of productive
and trustworthy members. What steps can organizations take to assess the quality of
- Monitoring of employees on the job:
Technology affords employers the opportunity to maintain tight control over
assessments of worker productivity. How might this assessment address or violate
expectations of privacy in the workplace?
Collection and use of employee information by employers:
What is personal information?
- According to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, personal information includes any
factual or subjective information about an individual, including such information as age,
name, ID numbers, income, ethnic origin, or blood type; opinions, evaluations,
comments, social status, and medical records.
The PIEDA establishes the ground rules regarding the manner in which private sector
organizations can collect, use, or disclose personal information in the course of their commercial
Among the fundamental requirements of the PIPDEA are the following:
- Companies that wish to collect, use, or disclose personal information about individuals
must obtain their consent, expect in a few specific and limited circumstances
- Companies can use or disclose people’s personal information only for the purpose for
which they gave consent.
Before providing any personal information, the individual must be made fully aware of such
- The fact that the company is seeking personal information
- The reason or purpose behind the data collection
- The nature of the privacy controls surrounding the data collection.
Ten principles of fair information practices:
1. Accountability: an organization is responsible for personal information under its control
and shall designate an individual or individuals who are accountable for the
organization’s compliance with the following principles.
2. Identifying purposes: the purposes for which personal information is collected shall be
identified by the organization at or before the time the information is collected
3. Consent: the knowledge and consent of the individual are required for the collection,
use, or disclosure of personal information, except when inappropriate.
4. Limiting collection: collection of personal information shall be limited to that which is
necessary for the purposes identified by the organization
5. Limiting use, disclosure, and retention
Employers can use a myriad of tests to assess the nature of their work force.
- Integrity testing (also known as honesty tests or personality tests).
- David Nye dubbed this type of test the “son of polygraph”
Four reasons why employers were using integrity tests:
1. To stem employee theft
2. To avoid “negligent hiring” suits
3. To screen employees
4. To replace polygraphs
An integrity test typically poses 80 to 90 statements with which the employee or
applicant is asked to agree or disagree.
Integrity tests are inexpensive, quick to administer, and easy to guide.
“Drug testing” is an umbrella term intended to embrace drug and alcohol testing and employer
testing got any suspected substance abuse.
- Issue of drug testing in the workplace has many of the same characteristics as the lie
detector and integrity test issues.
Reluctance of business to conduct drug testing include the following:
- Moral issues and privacy
- Inaccuracy of test
- High cost