Ethical Issues in the Workplace Essay

Rhiannon Haskin Tiffany Fisher Ethics 22 July 2010 Ethical Workplace Dilemma When I think about it, I have encountered different ethical dilemmas in my place of work. One issue that has come up recently, was that of one of my employees came to me to discuss a hygiene issue she was having with one of the other workers in the office. At the time, I wasn’t sure about how to approach the situation, but thought back to some of my management training I had about 7 months ago, and what steps I should take to address the issue in the most professional as well as respectful manner.

If I were to look at it from an ethical perspective, and that of a utilitarian view, I would have to say that the ethical action is the one that provides the most good or does the least harm, or, to put it another way, produces the greatest balance of good over harm. The ethical corporate action, then, is the one that produces the greatest good and does the least harm for all who are affected-customers, employees, shareholders, the community, and the environment. The utilitarian approach deals with consequences; it tries both to increase the good done and to reduce the harm done.

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So, with that taken into consideration, I look back on it now, and realize that this is actually the approach I used when dealing with this particular situation. What I did, was I pulled the young lady that had been complained about, and pulled her into my office the same day the complaint was made. When she came into my office, I immediately understood what the person who brought up the claim was talking about, because I could smell her as soon as she walked into my office.

It wasn’t just any smell though, it was a very distinct smell of marijuana and alcohol, amongst other slight hygiene issues, but those were the two that concerned me the most. So, I first asked her if she knew why I had called her into my office, and she replied that she didn’t. I then mentioned something about there were people around the office that were complaining of the way she smelled, and that company policy does raise the issue of hygiene due to the close quartered working environment, that people have to display a decent amount of personal hygiene.

She proceeded to tell me that she really hadn’t noticed that she smelled bad, and that she would make sure and take the time to correct the problem. After that was addressed, I brought up the more pressing issue of what I smelled on her. I explained that it is completely against company policy to partake in any illegal drug activity whatsoever, and explained to her that I myself could smell the aroma of marijuana on her.

I then proceeded to tell her that with such a strong scent coming off of her, I couldn’t take her word that her roommates smell it, and that she would have to be drug tested the same day. I also told her that she could let me know anything she wanted me to, and whatever she told me would remain strictly confidential. I was basically giving her the opportunity to resign her position, and that even if she was on drugs; her resigning her position wouldn’t be grounds to proceed with a drug test.

She declined to give me any details of her personal life, so I told her that under suspicion of reasonable doubt, I was going to administer a mouth swab drug test. I called my superior into my office, as a third party witness, and gave my employee a mouth swab drug test, and just as I’d thought, it came back positive. The policy at my company states that when a drug test comes back negative, the employee whose test came back positive is required to attend a drug rehabilitation program at the cost of the employee in order to withstand a chance of returning to the company.

Of course, I doubt she opted for that choice, however she was escorted off the premises by local law enforcement, and I have not gotten word on her status to date. This situation for me was a difficult one, because not only am I fairly young, and in a management position with my company, but this girl was only 19, and already seeming to become careless with her employment and, shall we say “extra-curricular” activities.

I didn’t even mention the alcohol, because I felt that after everything else, at the end of the day, it wasn’t important. I know she wasn’t let off easy, and probably got some charges to her record. The part that gets me is that I did follow policy, and I didn’t feel good about it, but I knew it was the ethical thing to do. Overall, even if I didn’t feel good about firing her, I feel that I used a utilitarian as well as implementing Kant’s Deontology approach in an effective manner. I had gotten a complaint, and I addressed the issue.

In the turn of events that transpired, at the end of the day, I feel that I did the right thing regardless of the consequences to my employee that was breaking the rules, and at the same time, I maximized the happiness of my office, because I got rid of someone who was proving to be a bit of a slacked worker anyway. On top of minimizing unhappiness for the greatest number of people, because I don’t want an unreliable pothead working in a professional environment that deals with the public on a daily basis.


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