Ethics and Corporate Responsibility in the Workplace and the World

This paper will examine the ethics of a pharmaceutical company by the name of PharmaCARE. Stakeholders will be discussed, and the treatment of rank and file workers versus executives will be analyzed. Also the proposed firing of three of PharmaCare’s workers will be debated. Additionally obligations, protection, and whistleblowing opportunities will be examined on behalf of Allen a manager for the company. PharmaCARE’s environmental initiatives will be assessed and compared to their efforts to stop environmental laws and regulations. The Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ( CERCLA) will be reviewed, and all provisions which apply to the PharmaCARE scenario will be discussed.

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PharmaCARE is one of the world’s most successful pharmaceutical companies. It has a reputation for producing high quality products that saved millions of lives, and enhance the quality of millions of others. The company sponsors a program that offers free and discounted medication to low income customers. PharmaCARE has many stakeholders. Stakeholders being any one or group owning a significant percentage of a company shares, or a person or group not owning shares in an enterprise but affected by or having interest in its operation.(W.Dictionary) Having established the definition of a stakeholder, one can concur that PharmaCARE has plenty. When identifying the company’s stakeholders the first that come to mind are the investors, shareholders and employees, without these people the company would cease to exist. The secondary stakeholders are the customers, suppliers, communities, clinics, hospitals, and doctors’ offices, all of these groups have an interest or will be affected by the operations of PharmaCARE.

Established in New Jersey, PharmaCARE owns a substantial manufacturing facility in the African nation of Colberia. The natives of the land are extremely poor and maintain the lowest standard of living. PharmaCARE employs the natives, paying them a measly one dollar a day salary to gather plants and carry up to fifty pounds five miles. The company executives that run the facility on the other hand live in a luxury compound provided by the company. PharmaCARE’s practice of paying people to work for a dollar a day is totally utilitarian. They are getting cheap labor and destroying the land of the natives without even trying to provide a structure to help the people out of poverty, or provide equipment or facilities to help them replenish their land. PharmaCARE is morally corrupt, they have no sense of community when it comes to their bottom line. The executive of PharmaCARE are paid sizable salaries and are treated well. They are provided with facilities that contain all the amenities. The lower ranking employees are treated as expendables. They are expected to work in unsafe conditions without complaint, or risk the chance of being fired. They are in some cases paid a salary so miniscule that it can be interpreted as modern day slavery. On the surface PharmaCARE looks to be an ethically sound company but when closely evaluated it is utilitarianism at its worst.

Allen Jones a manager for the company was appointed to lead a new division created by PharmaCARE called CompCARE. The subsidiary was a way for PharmaCARE to avoid FDA scrutiny concerning the reformulation and selling of their top selling diabetes drug. The company quickly established CompCARE and did a low cost renovation to an office located close to headquarter. The new formulation of the drug was successful for treating Alzheimer and the success of CompCARE grew. As production and working hours increased employees began to fall ill. An employee brought to Allen’s attention that there was mold on the air vents, after contacting his supervisor Allen was told to ignore the fact. An EE by the name of Donna who previously had perfect attendance became so ill that she could no longer report to work because of the mold. So she eventually filed for workers compensation. Tom one of Allen’s best supervisor threaten to file a complaint with OSHA about the air quality at the facility because it was so bad. Lastly an EE named Ayesha filed an EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) complaint inferring that she had been looked over for a promotion because she was Muslim. Allen discussed the EE issues with his boss and was told to fire them all. Firing the EEs would not be the best decision for Allen, he has to consider the legal ramifications of his actions.

Legally, Allen cannot fire Donna for filing for workers compensation, an EE is protected by law from retaliation for filing a claim. Donna had excellent work evaluations prior to her illness, Allen would have to provide sufficient evidence that firing her was not due to the filing of a workers comp claim. Firing Donna would surely bring an employment discrimination lawsuit against PharmaCARE, it would be wise for Allen to convince his boss to take care of the mold problem in the facility it would save the company money in the long run. Terminating Tom would also bring litigations against PharmaCARE, Tom could allege that he was wrongfully discharged, because he complained about his unsafe working conditions and threaten to inform OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Commission). Under the Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act one cannot be terminated for reporting a violation of public policy or not for good cause once a probationary period is completed. Tom was Allen’s best supervisor, terminating him would be illegal. Allen needs to persuade his boss to remedy the mold problem at the facility, he needs to explain to him that it is in the best interest of the company.

Lastly Allen could legally fire Ayesha, not because of her filing a complaint with EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunities Commission) but for not being able to substantiate the claim. Under the Employment-at- Will Act he can terminate her unless some type of contractual terms are stated or implied in the employer’s handbook.

Allen’s managerial status puts him in a unique position, he has direct contact with the executives and daily interactions with the lower level EE. Allen is faced with legal and ethical issues, Allen has been told to allow workers to remain in a hazardous work environment. The air quality of the workplace is dangerous to the health of any one working in the environment. As a manager he has an ethical and legal duty to report the conditions of his jobsite to first his superiors, then to OSHA if no measures are taken to correct the problem. Allen’s boss has made it clear that nothing will be done about the air pollution, so reporting this problem to OSHA would benefit Allen legally. As a manager Allen was made aware of the problem by an employee, if the employee decides to contact OSHA and inform them that they reported this problem to him he may be fired later for not taking steps to remedy the problem. Once you submit a complaint to OSHA your company cannot retaliate against you, this will protect Allen from getting fired and having legal action taken against him. Allen reporting to OSHA is his best option, his job will be protected and he would have done the right thing for the employees.

PharmaCARE had recently announced its “We Care about Your World” initiative. They started recycling, and made packaging changes, these steps made them seem community friendly. Even as they took on these green initiatives, they lobbied to block environmental efforts that would benefit the greater good of the people. Also they entered poor villages and exploited the people and the land to their benefit with no moral gauge. It seems that PharmaCARE is promoting an image of environmental stewardship when they are actually ethically corrupt. They are misleading the community with their behind the scenes practices. If PharmaCARE is going to portray themselves as an environmentally friendly company than they should assume the responsibility of initiating a green program in all aspects of their productions within reason. Communities will support a company that they believe to care about the interest of the greater good and not just profit. PharmaCARE is jeopardizing their image with these unethical practices and if made public the company could possibly suffer an economic loss.

Comprehensive Environment Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) also known as “Superfund”, was enacted by Congress in 1980. This law created a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries and provided broad Federal authority to respond directly to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or the environment. The law authorized the EPA to identify companies or individuals responsible for hazardous waste contamination and require them to clean it up. If no party could be found responsible for the contamination then money from the superfund would be used for the cleanup. On October 17, 1986 CERCLA was amended to include more detailed provisions to better the process of enforcing maintaining and cleaning contamination sites.

They include increasing State involvement in every phase of the Superfund program, requiring Superfund actions to consider the standards and requirements found in other State and Federal environmental laws and regulations, and stressing the importance of permanent remedies and innovative treatment technologies in cleaning up hazardous waste sites. There are eleven provisions in all, they were added to give the states more authority in the matters of environmental protection, and bring awareness to the actual dangers to human health from hazardous waste. Provisions relating to PharmaCARE are the right to have safe and toxic free working conditions and the power of the state to enforce clean up, also the random site inspections.

Stakeholders. (n.d.) Unabridged. Retrieved August 11, 2013, from website OSHA: complying with workplace health and safety laws. (2013). Retrieved from SARA Overview. (2013). Retrieved from Halbert, T., & Ingulli, E. (2012). The duty of loyalty. In M. Staudt & M. Stranz (Eds.), Laws and ethics in the business environment (7th ed.). Mason, Ohio: Cengage Learning

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