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Phase 3 Policy and Plan Development, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Introduction

This paper examines the ethical considerations of Age Discrimination, Sexual Harassment and Race/Gender discrimination.  In particular focusing upon the US Regulatory environment that covers each of these areas. Each of these subject areas will require inclusion within the ECG Corporate Code of Conduct.

Age Discrimination

It is the Age Discrimination Act 1975 that prohibits any act of discrimination based upon the grounds of old age. It was designed to protect those workers of 40 years of age or over from acts of discrimination at work. This particularly related to those categories that include the recruitment process, promotion, discharge procedure or terms of compensation. This is enforced by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EEOC) and further supported by S.188 of the Workforce Investment Act 1998. (Department of Labor, 2010). In the case of General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. V. Cline,540 U.S. 581 (2004); the court does not, as such, forbid companies having a preference for young people over the old but is does forbid them for carrying out discriminatory preferences.

The courts will also consider discrimination in cases where the firm is acting for some ulterior motive and as such the Company needs to consider these types of practices very carefully, e.g. Reeves V. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133 (2000). (Find US Law, 2011).

There are situations in the USA where employees have been discharged for what is considered to be embodying too many ethical values, such as these have distracted from the efficient operational running of the business.  This over-integrity of ethics has resulted in cases of wrongful termination; however as this is a developing area of the law, it has seldom safeguarded the interests or rights of individual employees.  As such there is a need to carefully define the policy and ethical statements of the Company and its’ anti-ageist discrimination stance in accordance with the legal requirements set out.

Sexual Harrasment

Sexual harassment at work may be defined as an act of sexual discrimination. It may take on different forms but ultimately affects working conditions and creates a hostile work environment. There are a number of legal and ethical considerations that need to be built into the code of conduct. For example:

  • Zero tolerance policy for acts of physical assault, verbal abuse of a sexual nature or inappropriately touching another person;
  • A policy that forbids verbal or written acts of a sexual derogatory or discriminatory nature; such that it diminishes the person from carrying out or performing work duties;
  • Inappropriate ‘ body language’ of a sexual or discriminatory nature;
  • Inappropriate displays of sexual materials e.g. wall posters, nude calendars, drawings or computer screensavers; together with any other such materials, that brings the image of the firm into disrepute.

The law expressly forbids sexual discrimination at work and is covered under title V11 of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and is supported by other State laws forbidding sexual harassment at work.  Much of the focus is based upon the rights of women at work – the right of a woman to earn a living, the right of being able to pursue a career without being considered as a sexual commodity by the firm she works for or the other employees.  It equally applies to men being discriminated at work e.g. by powerful female bosses.  William Donald Schaeffer, past Governor and May of the State of Baltimore sexually discriminated against a young 24-year-old girl in front of an audience. She was asked to repeat her ‘sexy walk’ after bringing the mayor a cup of tea. He viewed this as a compliment but it was viewed as a command and seen to humiliate the girl in front of an audience – a blatant act of sexual discrimination. (Ethics Scoreboard, 2006).

Racial Discrimination

In Grutter vs. Bollinger (2003).  This case was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2003.  The case focused upon Ms.B. Grutter who was a white resident of Michigan, who  applied for a position at the University of Michigan Law School.  As a young undergraduate she had achieved a SAT score of 161.   Law school, subsequently denied her admission free to admitting that it uses race as one of the determining factors for deciding upon university admissions.  It was stated that the prime reason for this was the universities, compelling interest in achieving diversity amongst the student body. (The Oyez Project Grutter v Bollinger, 2010).  Subsequently, the Court of Appeals reversed this holding. In the context of the Supreme Court, the legal interpretation being put forward by  Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.  Here, the Supreme Court maintained that the school was not prevented from having a singular narrow view with regard to race in the admission process, i.e. within the equal protection clause. The court further upheld that because the law school, conducted its admissions reviews on an entirely individual and personalized basis, no automatic acceptance or rejection was based on a single factor of race alone.

The Gritter vs. Bollinger case is an example of where the ethical position in law may not always be clear.  The main concept applies that it is unlawful and unethical for one person to discriminate against another person on the grounds of race or gender. Ethics brings into question the importance of equity and diversity in the workplace. The importance of equal rights for all people at work and the relevance of cultural diversity enriching the company with new ideas, concepts and skills. The question of  diversity and equal rights is an important one.  The universities and in particular, law schools are the main training grounds for a large number of the nation’s leaders.  For example, it was considered that those having acquired degrees in law hold some 50% of the state governorships, in excess of 50% US Senate seats and more that 1/3rd of the seats acquired  in the House of  Representatives.  Major corporate American businesses have made it very clear that – if businesses are to be successful  in the global market place, then they will only achieve this objective by exposure to a diverse ethnic group offering a diversity of  cultures, ideas and viewpoints.  (Sandel, M. 2010).

One of the key issues, supporting the argument of the plaintiff was that the decision of the law school violated the 14th amendment. The law prevents any state the possibility of denying a person the jurisdictional rights to equitable protection within the law.  The Law School maintained the defensive position that it did not pursue policies of racial discrimination within its admission process.  They provided evidence that suggested that without such an affirmative action policy by the school and minority chances of admission would decrease from 35 to 10%.  The plaintiff’s argument being that this was reverse discrimination and therefore unconstitutional. (McBride, A. 2007)

Conclusion

ECG will need to examine each of these three policies with some care and customise the appropriate fit into the professional code of conduct for the firm.  It is important these be recognised as guidelines that must be followed, as definitive policy statements supported by the organization and deemed to be in compliance with legal requirements.  Whilst the organization (ECG) is not directly responsible for any employee, acting outside of the law or disobeying the policies it can be written into the employee contract as constituting sufficient grounds for dismissal.

References

Department of Labor. (2010). Equal Employment Opportuinity. Retrieved 9 4, 2011, from Department of Labor: http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/discrimination/agedisc.htm

Ethics Scoreboard. (2006, 2 26). The Ethics of sexual Harrasment. Retrieved 9 7, 2011, from Ethics Scoreboard: http://www.ethicsscoreboard.com/list/schaefer.html

Find US Law. (2011). Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc. (2000) 530 US 133, 120 S.Ct. 2097. Retrieved 8 26, 2011, from Find US Law: http://finduslaw.com/reeves_v_sanderson_plumbing_products_inc_2000_530_us_133_120_s_ct_2097

McBride, A. (2007). Landmark cases Grutter v Bollinger. Retrieved 2 19, 2010, from http://www.pbs.org/wnet/supremecourt/future/landmarkgrutter.html

Sandel, M. (2010). Gritter v Bollinger 2003. Retrieved 2 19, 2010, from http://www.justiceharvard.org/?option=com_contents&view=article&id=59&catid=21:epi…

The Oyez Project Grutter v Bollinger. (2010, 2 16). The Oyez Project Grutter v Bollinger. Retrieved 2 19, 2010, from http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2002/2002_02_241/

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