Part 1: Employment Discrimination
A) Disparate Treatment
Disparate Treatment is the violation of singling out and treating a protected group less favorably. Protected groups consists of individuals who fall under the equal employment laws. These are based on sex, race, age, disability, color, creed, national origin and religion. To determine whether or not the employer has violated the Title VII act, it is necessary to understand whether the motives were based on discriminatory intent. This can be present with factual or concrete evidence, as well as through indirect evidence.
B) Sexual Harassment
A hostile work environment is present when an individual’s behavior or actions within a workplace results in a situation that is offensive or uncomfortable for another individual. The most common type of complaint is sexual harassment. Sexual harassment includes actions that are sexually-suggestive such as sexual language like remarks or jokes, or acts such as fondling. In order for the conduct to be unlawful, it must show that the individual is being harassed in the work environment through hostile or offensive behaviors that a reasonable person would attest to. The employer may be held liable for sexual harassment cases if they have no type of protocol in preventing these behaviors. However, if there is a protocol in place and the individual being harassed does not take advantage of it, then the employer is not held liable.
C) Age Discrimination in Employment Act
Age Discrimination in Employment Act is a U.S. Labor law that forbids discrimination in employment for anyone of 40 years and older. The purpose of this law is to provide equal opportunity for all citizens of this age because this law was not originally covered under the Civil Rights Act. The discrimination includes situations of hiring, firing, layoffs, promotions and wages. However, this is only deemed unlawful when there is probable intent of discrimination. If the employer had reasonable intentions of not hiring an individual over 40 and the reasons are clearly defined, then the employer is not breaking the law.
Part II: Ethical Theories
The Deontology ethical theory states that a person’s duties translate in the basic principles that guide behavior. In other words, the morality of an action should be based on whether or not the action itself is right or wrong under a series of rules, rather than based on the consequences. For example, since the belief that killing someone is wrong, it is immoral to kill even though it was in self-defense. Immanuel Kant’s theory of ethics is considered deontological for several reasons. He argued that it wasn’t the person’s consequences that made them right or wrong, but the motives of the person who carries out the behavior. Kant said that it is immoral to treat people as a means to an end and that in all circumstances, people must be treated as an end in themselves. The categorical imperative requires each person to act as though his or her actions are the general rule of all of society. This is a variation of the golden rule, which is, treating others as one would wish to be treated themselves.
Utilitarianism is outcome based ethics, so, a person’s actions are evaluated by looking at what the individual’s behavior has on the net effect on society. If they improve society they are ethical, if they hurt society they are unethical. Or in other ways, if the action maximizes utility. To determine this, it is the sum of all the pleasure that results from the action minus the suffering of anyone involved in the action. A specific form of utilitarianism is act utilitarianism, which requires an analysis of each action to determine its moral consequence or affect on society. If an action produces the best possible results in a specific situation, then the action is ethical. On the other hand, rule utilitarianism provides general principles to determine if an action is ethical or not. If the action doesn’t comply with the set of rules, then the action is unethical.
C) Social Contract
The theory of social contract states that people have to follow the rules of society because they accepted the benefits of society. Socrates, the grandfather of ethics, used a concept like the social contract theory to argue why he believed he should remain in prison and accept the death penalty. He was found guilty of immorality and corrupting the morals of the city’s youth. He argued that since he did not follow the rules of his society, that he must suffer the consequences of his immorality.
D) Ethical Egoism
Ethical Egoism is a doctrine that states that one’s self should be the motivation and the goal of one’s own action. In other words, an individual’s actions should look out only for their own self interest. If it benefits themselves, then the action is ethical. It is not necessary for the actions of the individual to harm another individual, just so the action benefits their own self. Likewise, when an individual performs an action they do not need to take into account if their action will benefit or harm another individual.
Part III: Hypothetical – Employment Discrimination
A) Application of Law
In this hypothetical scenario, there are several laws being broken, all of which fall under Employment Discrimination. First off, there is disparate treatment happening by an employee named Bill. As stated earlier, disparate treatment is the violation of singling out and treating a protected group less favorably. Sue has proficient skills and experience, as she has her B.B.A and M.B.A., and has been working for Zillion Cars for ten years and has always received excellent performance reviews. Since she had submitted her resume for the opening position of the Director of Sales, and was qualified and experienced enough to perform the job description adequately, it is discrimination on Bill’s part not to hire her into that job position. She had previously expressed her belief of “glass ceiling,” or in other words, she felt as though there has been a barrier present from her obtaining upper-level positions because she is a woman. If Sue were to take this situation to court, she could argue that there is discrimination present, based on the fact that she is more than capable of filling the role of the Director of Sales. She could argue that since she is a woman and over the age of 40, that there is disparate treatment happening by Bill.
Going hand in hand with disparate treatment, Bill is not only breaking that law but also the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. This law forbids discrimination in employment for anyone that is over the age of 40. As already stated, since Sue is 54 years old, and competent enough to fill the the Director of Sales position, that shows that Bill could potentially be discriminating her based on her age.
The second law that is in question of being broken is sexual harassment. Since the current management team is all males, Bill believes that Sue would feel uncomfortable or even harassed if he were to hire her into the Director of Sales position. This is because these males often talk using extreme language and sometimes make sexual jokes, which Sue would most likely find offensive. Since Bill is aware of these actions, and not giving Sue the Director of Sales position because of it, that could very well be deemed unlawful. In this case, although, there is no harassment that has been done thus far since the provocative language is being said between individuals that are comfortable with it. However, there is still potential for it to happen in the future since Bill is not doing anything to change their protocol regarding sexual harassment. Eventually, this could cause the company to potentially suffer liability losses.
B) Application of Ethics
By using the Deontology theory, which states that a person’s duties translate in the basic principles that guide behavior, it is apparent in this hypothetical situation that Bill is going against the Deontology theory since he is treating Sue as a means to an end. Under this theory, it is immoral for him to not hire her into the Director of Sales position just because she is either a woman, 40 years old, or to avoid potential sexual harassment issues.
The Utilitarian theory states that a person’s actions are evaluated by looking at what the in individual’s behavior has on the net effect on society. If they improve society they are ethical, if they hurt society they are unethical. To determine this, it is the sum of all the pleasure that results from the action minus the suffering of anyone involved in the action. That being said, it is necessary to determine the pleasure that results in Bill hiring Mark instead of Sue, and also the suffering that results from it. Without understand each of their emotions of this action, it is hard to detect how much pleasure and suffering that is incurred. However, by hiring Mark, pleasure is present by Bill, Mark, as well as the other directors, most likely. The only person that is likely to suffer from this action is Sue. So based on this evidence, it is likely to assume that the overall net effect on society is better if Mark is hired instead of Sue.
Social Contract is the theory that states that people have to follow the rules of society because they accepted the benefits of society. Since Bill has accepted the benefits of society, such as having equal opportunity, it is necessary that he abides by the rules of society as well. As I just mentioned, one of the rules of society is equal opportunity for protected groups. In this hypothetical scenario, Bill is breaking this rule by not hiring Sue because of her gender, age, or to avoid sexual harassment liability. So therefore, Bill is morally wrong under the Social Contract theory.
The last theory that has a different outcome than the last three previously talked about, is the Ethical Egoism theory. This theory states that one’s self should be the motivation and the goal of one’s own action. In other words, an individual’s actions should look out only for their own self interest. In this scenario, Bill is looking out for his own self interest by the fact that hiring Mark seemed more ideal for him. This way, he can avoid potential liability issues involving sexual harassment, as well as having a fourth male supervisor will keep the supervisor positons at an all male spectrum. So, hiring Mark instead of Sue under the Ethical Egoism theory is morally right.