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Chapter Nine:

The Workplace
Todays Challenges

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Overview
Chapter Nine examines the following topics:
(1) Privacy and organizational issues over private
decisions.
(2) Moral issues and polygraphs, personality tests,
employee monitoring, and workplace drug
testing.
(3) Working conditions, safety, and management
style.
(4) Job satisfaction and dissatisfaction and the
prospects for enhancing the quality of work life.
Moral Issues in Business
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Introduction
According to the U.S. Supreme Court, privacy is
the right to be let alone.
The Court considers privacy to be one of the most
comprehensive and valued rights of citizens.
What moral issues arise in the workplace
regarding privacy?
What are a companys responsibilities
regarding employee privacy?
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Organizational Influence in Private


Lives
Privacy is widely acknowledged to be a
fundamental right.
Yet corporate behavior and policies often threaten
privacy, especially in the case of employees.
This can happen through the release or exchange
of personal (or privileged) information about
employees
It also occurs when imposing employer values
upon employees.
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Organizational Influence in Private


Lives
The importance of privacy Our concern for
privacy has three aspects:
(1) We want to control intimate or personal
information about ourselves and not permit it to
be freely available to everyone.
(2) We dont want our private selves to be on public
display.
(3) We value being able to make certain personal
decisions autonomously.
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Organizational Influence in Private


Lives
There is no consensus among philosophers or
lawyers about the following:
(a) How to define the concept of privacy.
(b) How far to extend the right to privacy.
(c) How to balance a concern for privacy
against other moral considerations.
The burden is on the organization to establish the
legitimacy of encroaching on the personal sphere
of the individual.
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Organizational Influence in Private


Lives
Legitimate and illegitimate influence: A firm is
legitimately interested in whatever significantly
influences work performance.
It has a legitimate interest in employee conduct off
the job only if conduct affects work performance.
It is difficult to say precisely what constitutes a
significant influence on job performance.
It is also difficult to spell out exactly when off-duty
conduct truly affects company image.
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Organizational Influence in Private


Lives
Issues of privacy interference in the workplace:
(1) Legitimate and illegitimate influence.
(2) Involvement in civic activities.
(3) Participation in wellness programs.

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Obtaining Information
Businesses often obtain information about their
employees through testing and/or monitoring.
Informed consent: Its presence or absence is the
main ethical issue in testing and monitoring it
implies deliberation and free choice.
Deliberation: Employees must be provided all key
facts concerning the information gathering
procedure and understand its consequences.
Free choice: The decision to participate must be
voluntary and un-coerced.
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Obtaining Information
Polygraph tests: Businesses cite several reasons
for using the polygraph test:
(1) It is a fast and economical way to verify
information provided by job applicants and
screen candidates for employment.
(2) It allows employers to identify dishonest
employees or job candidates.
(3) It eliminates the need for audits and oppressive
controls, so may increase workers freedom.
Moral Issues in Business
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Obtaining Information
Those who defend polygraphs rely on several
assumptions that are open to question:
(1) Telling lies triggers an involuntary, distinctive
response but this is not always the case.
(2) Polygraphs are extraordinarily accurate this
has been disputed.
(3) Polygraphs cannot be beaten they may catch
the guilty but also generate false positives,
wrongly identifying as liars those who told the
truth.
Moral Issues in Business
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Obtaining Information
Additional issues to consider in evaluating the
use of polygraphs in the workplace:
(1) The information the organization seeks should be
clearly and significantly related to the job.
(2) The grounds must be compelling enough to
justify violating the individuals privacy and
freedom.
(3) The data gathering must be evaluated the type
of information being gathered, who will have
access to it, and how it will be discarded.
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Obtaining Information
Personality tests: One of the most popular, the
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, is used by eightynine of the Fortune 100 companies, and is taken by
more than 2.5 million Americans every year.
Such tests help businesses both screen candidates
and match individuals to appropriate jobs.
But they involve questionable psychological
premises (that individuals fit into a small number
of personality types), may invade privacy, and may
reinforce conformity.
Moral Issues in Business
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Obtaining Information
Monitoring employees on the job: This may be
necessary, but it can be abused and can violate
privacy.
Like testing, it often gathers personal information
about workers without their informed consent.
Organizations frequently confuse notification of
such practices with employee consent, but
notification does not constitute consent.
Moral Issues in Business
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Obtaining Information
Drug testing: Became an issue when the National
Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) began
banning college football players from postseason
bowl games based on their steroid test results.
A study in the Journal of the American Medical
Association supported drug testing: Postal
workers testing positive in a pre-employment test
were 50 percent more likely to be fired, injured,
disciplined, or absent than those testing negative.
Moral Issues in Business
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Obtaining Information
Additional considerations regarding drug
testing:
(1) Excessive media attention and political posturing
can lead to extreme or unnecessary measures.
(2) Drugs differ, so one must carefully consider
which drugs one is testing for, and why.
(3) Companies must determine how to respond
appropriately to individuals who fail the test.
(4) Any warranted tests must be careful to respect
the dignity and rights of the persons to be tested.
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Working Conditions
Health and safety: The number of occupational
hazards is awesome and generally unrecognized.
U.S. Census Bureau indicates that about five
thousand workers are killed on the job each year.
The director of the Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (OSHA) says thirty-two
workers are killed on the job each day, more than
doubling the Census figure.
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Working Conditions
Census Bureau statistics reveal that the rate of
industrial injury has been declining since 1960.
But the absolute number of workers disabled at
work every year is ever increasing about 3.7
million men and women.
Job-related injuries and illnesses cost the nation
$65 billion a year $171 billion when indirect
costs such as lost wages are included.
Moral Issues in Business
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Working Conditions
Employers clearly have a moral obligation not to
expose workers to needless risks or to negligently
or recklessly endanger their lives or health.
Employers, however, are not morally responsible
for all workplace accidents caused by coworkers
negligence or failure to exercise due care.
In some circumstances or in certain occupations,
an injured worker can reasonably be said to have
voluntarily assumed the risk.
Moral Issues in Business
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Working Conditions
Problems with voluntary assumption of risk: It
presupposes informed consent, which requires the
worker to have been fully informed of the danger
and to have freely chosen to assume it.
Employees have a moral right to refuse dangerous
work (upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court).
Employers, in turn, have a moral obligation not to
expose workers to needless risk.

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Working Conditions
What causes accidents? Accidents dont just
happen, but often result from poor job practices
and environments that fail to prioritize safety.
OSHA: With the 1970 Occupational Safety and
Health Act, regulation of working conditions
passed from the states to the federal government.
The thrust of the act was to ensure safe and
healthy working conditions and impose a duty on
employers to provide those conditions.
Moral Issues in Business
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Working Conditions
New health challenges: The scope of occupational
hazard is greater than many people think.
The numbers harmed by work-related injuries
and illness may be generally underestimated.
These include musculoskeletal disorders, shift work,
fatigue, and stress.
OSHAs enforcement of existing regulations has
too often been lax.
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Working Conditions
Management styles: Nothing affects environment
more than management style and quality.
In The Human Side of Enterprise, Douglas
McGregor described two management styles:
Theory X managers believe that workers dislike
work and try to avoid.
Theory Y managers assume that employees
basically like work and view it as something
natural and potentially enjoyable.

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Working Conditions
Theory X managers coerce and bully workers into
conformity with organizational objectives.
Theory Y managers believe that workers are
motivated by pride and self-fulfillment as well as
money and job security, not dodging responsibility
but accepting it and even seeking it out.
Other management styles include Theory Z
managers, who hold Japanese-style respect for
workers.
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Working Conditions
One management style eschews a traditionally
masculine approach (hierarchical, aggressive,
winner-take-all) in favor of one more congenial to
women (personal, empathetic, and collaborative).
Managers who operate with rigid assumptions
about human nature, or who devote themselves to
infighting and political maneuvering, may damage
employees interests and lose their respect.

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Working Conditions
Day care and maternity leave: Women still bear
the primary responsibility for child rearing.
So their increased participation in the paid
workforce has led to a growing demand for
maternity-leave policies and child-care services.
In its research of 168 countries, a Harvard School
of Public Heath study found that more than 160
guarantee paid maternity leave, whereas the U.S.
mandates only unpaid leave (except in California
and Washington).
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Working Conditions
Business and child care: Some argue that offering
child care as a fringe benefit, and dealing flexibly
with employees family needs, can prove
advantageous for most employers.
Such policies can be cost-effective in the narrower
sense decreasing absenteeism, boosting morale
and loyalty, enhancing productivity, and attracting
new recruits.

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Working Conditions
Three moral concerns:
(1) Women have a right to compete on equal terrain
with men, and paid leave can reinforce that right.
(2) Development of potential capacities is a moral
ideal, and perhaps a human right, so women
should not be forced to choose between
childbearing and pursuing careers.
(3) The work world often reproduces the traditional
male-female division of labor within the family.
Moral Issues in Business
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Redesigning Work
Dissatisfaction on the job: The Work in America
report (1970) identified three chief sources of
worker dissatisfaction:
(1) Industrys preoccupation with quantity, not
quality; rigid rules and regulations; and the
monotonous repetition of small, fragmented
tasks.
(2) Lack of opportunities to be ones own boss.
(3) Bigness.
Moral Issues in Business
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Redesigning Work
Other sources of dissatisfaction: Studies since the
1970s have cited workers feelings of
powerlessness, meaninglessness, isolation, and selfestrangement or depersonalization.
Factors affecting job satisfaction: Employees at all
occupational levels value interesting work, enough
support and information to accomplish the job,
enough authority to carry out the work, good pay,
the opportunity to develop special skills, job
security, and a chance to see results of their work.
Moral Issues in Business
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Redesigning Work
Importance of job satisfaction: The design of work
materially affects the total well-being of workers.
Example: Studies show that job satisfaction is
the strongest predictor of longevity.
Therefore, work content and job satisfaction
are paramount moral concerns.
Satisfied workers are also more productive.
Business has an economic reason as well as a
moral obligation to improve work quality.
Moral Issues in Business
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Redesigning Work
Quality of work life: For some firms, this means
providing workers with less supervision and more
autonomy.
For others, it means providing work opportunities
to develop and refine skills.
For still others, it means providing for greater
participation in the conception, design, and
execution of their work that is, with greater
responsibility and a deeper sense of achievement.
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