Ethics in Action Scenario
According to respondeat superior, principal or employer has legal role for the agent or employee wrongful act if this act happens in the agency or employment scope. This is irrespective of whether the act was reckless or accidental. Based on this provision, the employer has an ethical obligation to take preventative or corrective action if he or she know that an employee poses danger to others. Being the employee commander and supervisor, an employer has the ability to control the employee’s move and actions through supervision and tight jobs scheduling. Moreover, employers have been provided with the rights to develop the organization policies and action measures to be taken in case one fails to act based on the polices and the identified employees code of conduct. Thus, employee is supposed to rule the employees’ behaviors and to discipline any employee who poses danger to others (Duffy, 2008).
Although the employer is the principle of the employment place, employees also have rights that protect them from any form of mistreatment or unjust dismissal or unjust punishment. This right provide them with an opportunity to contest any form of mistreatment from their employer. In this regard, the employer can never interdict or discipline the employee with simple speculations. Just like any other litigation that needs evidence and proof, the employer need to have enough proof before taking any action. In case the employee is suspicious of the employee’s action, ability or plan to cause any danger to others, the employer has the responsibility of carrying out an investigation, or a close monitoring to prevent the danger from taking place. In addition, the employer should also do own investigation to obtain enough prove to be able to discipline the employee as required. However, the suspicion is enough to employ measures to ensure no danger is caused by the employee. The employer may never have proof, but that only prevent the employer from accusing the employee and punishing the employee for any mistake. However, the employer must take precautions to ensure that the suspicion does not come true and cause harm to employees. The proof provides the employer with the right to punish the employee while the suspicion only pushes the employer to investigate and employ measures to prevent any form of suspected danger (Duffy, 2008).
The employer has an ethical duty to take preventive or corrective action to all employees in the company and the customers who are attended by the employees as well as the surrounding community. The employer has a role to ensure employee safety in their work place. According to the law, the employer should protect its employee from any form of discrimination and harassment. In this regard, the employer should ensure that the environment is conducive enough for all workers environment. The employer is also responsible of protecting the employees against sexual harassment which is a form of discrimination (SHRM, 2014). Employees have the right to equal treatment and should not be discriminated based on their gender. This can only be assured by the employer by enhancing good supervision and scanning the employees conduct before employment. Good work policies and code of conduct should also be employed to enhance promote good behaviors in the working environment.
Employer also has a duty to the society to ensure that he act for the best interest of the society. This is defined as utilitarianism theory where the employer is demanded to act for the best interest of the society irrespective of whether the society best interest will interfere with the company’s wellbeing (Bilych, 2014). However based on the profit maximization theory, the employer is entitled to do all that is possible to maximize the profit of the company. However, this should be done without interfering with the rights of the employees or the best interest of the society. In this regard, an employer is needed to balance the situation to ensure that the company maximizes on its profit, ensure that the society interest is satisfied and that the workers’ rights are effectively employed in its operation. Thus, the employer has ethical obligation over the society, the workers and company’s wellbeing (Hussain, 2012).
In this case, an employee is involved in sexual assault during the working hours. However, the case does not clearly state whether this happens in the workplace or outside the workplace. In case this happened in the workplace, the employer will definitely be responsible since the employer has ethical obligation of ensuring anybody in the work place is safe. However, if this happened outside the workplace, the employer never had control of the employees’ acts outside the workplace. However, if they were involved in work mission at the place where the act took place, the employee is surely responsible under the respondent superior doctrine. On the other hand, the employer may not be able to force moral behaviors in an employee and thus, the employer may not be able to control the situation and thus, he or she may not be liable (Women UN, 2012).
There are a number of torts demonstrated in this case. They include the intentional tort of battery committed by the employee. There is also a tort of negligence where the employer neglected the role of supervision, an act that resulted to the sexual assault.
In this case, an employee of XYZ is involved in sexual assault which is definitely an act away from the employee’s job description. In this regard, it is clear that the employee was not working for the interest of the employer but for personal interest. However, the act takes place in the jobs regular working hours which means, the act happened when the employee was entitled to employment role and maybe to customers who anticipated good services as directed by the company. The ability to be involved in such a crime during working hour demonstrates poor supervision and thus a fail to the employer’s responsibility. With supervision, this could have been prevented. In this regard, both the employee and the employer has a liability to the crime.
Bilych, G. (2014). The theory of justice and profit maximization. Business and Economic Research, 4(1), 188-210.
Duffy, J. (2008). Prevention and correction of retaliation in the US workplace. Management Practices Group Best Practices Series. Retrieved from < http://www.corporatecompliance.org/Portals/1/PDF/Resources/past_handouts/CEI/2008/703handout2.pdf>
Hussain, W. (2012). Corporations, profit maximization and the personal sphere. Economics and Philosophy, 28(3), 311-331.
SHRM. (2014). What are an employer’s obligations under California law with regard to sexual harassment prevention? Retrieved from < http://www.shrm.org/templatestools/hrqa/pages/californiasexualharassmentprevention.aspx>
Women UN. (2012). Employer obligations under law. Retrieved from < http://www.endvawnow.org/en/articles/510-employer-obligations-under-law.html>
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