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Law/531 - Ethical and Criminal Responsibility Paper

Autor:   •  November 10, 2015  •  Essay  •  1,099 Words (5 Pages)  •  2,749 Views

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Ethical and Criminal Responsibility

Omini Akpang

LAW/531

November 2, 2015

Adrienne Yeung


Ethical and Criminal Responsibility

Due to recent corporate scandals and the decline of business values there has been close attention to ethics and corporate responsibility (Valentine & Fleischman, 2008).  Congress has established the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, with the purpose of discouraging corporations from illegal behavior and encourages corporate leadership to conduct business ethically and responsibly (Mallor, Barnes, Langvardt, & Bowers, 2013, p. 93).  More than ever, managers and corporations are expected to make ethically appropriate decisions when handling business situations.  This paper will focus on the role of ethical corporate behavior in a scenario between an employer and an employee who is the offender in a sexual assault.  The writer will apply ethical theory and tort elements and concepts to the scenario.

Employer’s Ethical Obligation

The employer, in the scenario considered for this paper, has the ethical obligation to take corrective or preventative action when he knows or has reason to know that the employee poses a danger to others. Drawing from the rights ethical theory, which holds that certain human liberties are essential and must be respected by other humans, an employer has an ethical responsibility to protect and provide safety to all its stakeholders (including the public).  The rights theory focuses on the rights of each member of society and influences a moral obligation that safeguards the fundamental rights of others (Mallor, Barnes, Langvardt, & Bowers, 2013, p. 95).  In a workplace, the employer has the ethical responsibility to provide a safe working environment to protect employees and the public.  If an employer has reason to believe that an employee poses a danger, he has the ethical obligation to remove the employee from the workplace.

An employer with reasonable suspicion or evidence, of an employee’s harmful behavior to others, can take action and dismiss an employee.  One of an employer’s main concerns and responsibility is providing safety.  The decision, in the Cervantez v. KMGP Services Company case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, shows that the law does not require the employer to have irrefutable evidence of misconduct to take action. Employers have the right to make employment decisions based on facts discovered in an investigation (Fisher, 2009)

Employer’s Action and Ethical Obligation to Employee

According to Woodrow, C., & Guest, D. E., “Public violence is viewed as a more pressing issue than staff harassment” (2012). Employers have an ethical obligation of taking corrective and preventative actions such as described in the scenario.  The employer should take actions that will protect both the public and the employees.  Corrective action can take place with immediate termination of an employee due to his tortious behavior.  A preventative action is not hiring individuals that can potentially cause harm to others.  The use of pre-screening techniques, such as searching a candidates’ social media sites is good practice though the employer has a concurrent obligation not to use any uncovered information for discriminatory purposes (Peterson, 2014).  Constant training on the company’s code of ethics and the consequences of not being compliant with company policy and state and federal law should be frequently taught as a preventative action.  The employer should take immediate steps to ensure that a similar incident does not reoccur.  

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