Philosophy of Ethics: Business Case Study Analysis The case involves a lady, Brenna Lewis who was employed as a front desk clerk by Heartland Inns. She was an active lady and her efforts were recognized by her direct supervisor. Lewis was also popular among customers who expressed their satisfaction with her level of service and satisfactory work. Following the recommendation of her direct supervisor Lewis was offered and accepted a full-time day shift in one of Heartland’s location. She duly started her assignment, but after Heartland’s director of operations saw her she informed her of a second interview.
Later on, Lewis learnt that the second interview was not a regular requirement, but the director had recommended it following her doubts on Lewis’s appearance. The director felt that Lewis was not a “good fit” as she was less feminine and did not fit the profile of a “Midwestern girl” thus she would not be suitable for the front desk job. Lewis felt discriminated against, and she sought legal redress for the same. Legally, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws discrimination on the basis of sex, race amongst other divisive elements.
In entirety, the law enforces objective evaluation of employees which mean employment opportunities should be provided on the basis of education, skills or experience (Hero Employment Law Letter). The legal position might be quite clear on the issue, however; the moral/ethical position is not as clear. Looking at the excerpt provided we must look at the director’s mandate or position to enforce her personal evaluation on Lewis. The question we must look at here is whether the director was ethical in enforcing her position.
The ethical dilemma here is evaluating Lewis’s position to claim her entitlement of the clerk position even after her director’s disapproval. At the end of the day, and as ethics dictate both of them cannot be right and a position must be reached on whether Lewis should continue serving as a clerk or quit. In evaluating this dilemma, we take an independent view and determine the appropriateness of each of the assertion’s as informed by different ethical theories.
These theories are; moral relativism, egoism, utilitarianism and Kantian ethics. Notably, this is one type of dilemma that is common place in employment circles. That is situations where business owners or individuals with considerable sway in a company feel they have the right to subjectively determine an employee’s suitability to serve in a certain position. This debate has been on going with those in support of this arguing that a business person has the moral obligation to determine that which is good for them and their business in disregard of other popular opinion (Breckler, Olsen & Wiggins, 2006).
On the other hand, opponents are of the opinion that business leaders have a moral obligation to accord equal opportunity to every individual irrespective of their appearance. This debate as informed by the above case is objectively determined by weighing it against the mentioned ethical theories. Analysis and recommendations Moral relativism is the view that a moral position is either true or false only dependent on a specific perspective mainly that of a culture or historical period, and none of these perspectives are privileged than others (Levy, 2002).
The general idea fronted by relativists is that moral positions cannot be enforced as morality is relative different individuals hold different moral truths. Under this ethical view, there are two views, ethical subjectivism and cultural relativism. Ethical subjectivism is of the view that morality is relative to individuals. Cultural relativism considers that morals are relative to culture. These two views are against absolute morals, which are morals that apply to all individuals at all times. Looking at the highlighted dilemma and examining it on the basis of moral relativism we can establish that there is no moral position that can be used to determine the ethicalness of stands taken by both individuals.
Lewis’s position as learnt from this theory maybe informed by her culture or personality. Unfortunately, and judging from their varied view on Lewis’s suitability we can discern that they come from different cultures and have different positions. Given this situation, it is easy to enforce the director’s position as she has that extra mandate or moral responsibility to determine that which is best for the company (Flynn, 2008). Egoism is the moral view that one’s self ought to be the motivation in any undertaking.
This has the implication that an individual should be driven by the need to achieve their personal goals, interests and desires (Kreeft, 1999). Another ethical view jointly observed together with egoism is altruism which is the opposite of egoism. It is the undertaking that an individual should exercise selflessness for the good or welfare others (Kellenberger, 2001). Looking at egoism, it is safe to argue that both Lewis and the director had a reason to take different positions on the issue of employment.
This is because each individual was informed by their interests and wanted these interests to be prioritized even if it meant displeasure to the other party. This ethical view does not offer a solution for such a situation rather it paves was for an additional and greater force to determine the appropriateness of the personal interests advanced by each of the individuals. Utilitarianism is a moral view advanced by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mills who held that every action should be based on utility.
This theory proposes that an individual’s undertaking should be informed by a desire to achieve the greatest happiness for the largest group of people (Troyer, 2003). According to this theory an individual should first determine the probable results or effects of their respective actions (Mill & Piest, 1985). If these actions do not ensure the greatest happiness for the majority, then this is the wrong moral position (Mill, Bentham & Ryan, 1987). Going back to the dilemma, the director has a responsibility to ensure that the company’s stakeholders mainly the customers and the owners are happy.
The basis for the customer’s happiness is good and satisfactory service while the basis for the owner’s happiness is good returns. In this regard, her actions should be focused on that one person who ensures satisfied customers and good revenue for the company. This mandate should be prioritized beyond her own happiness as represented by an opportunity to have an employee who is girlish and fits the Midwestern profile. Looking at these factors and applying the utilitarianism view it is sound to conclude that Lewis director is unethical.
This is because Lewis has a track of ensuring her customer’s happiness and her performances are top notch, which ultimately delivers satisfactory revenue for the owners. These benefits represent greatest happiness for the majority as the only individual opposed to the idea is Lewis director. Kantian ethics is perhaps the most complex theory in application it follows from Kant’s view that the most important thing in determining the morality of an action is evaluating an individual’s goodwill (Altman, 2011; Betzler, 2008).
The basis for this theory is not effects or consequence but the goodwill the desire to do good/right thing. Looking at Lewis’s director, there is a strong chance that the desire to get Lewis replaced due to her “tomboy” look was driven by her desire to have someone who fit in a preferred profile. This is because according to her own evaluation a more “girlish” person should take over as a front-desk clerk for optimal results. This shows that she was driven by the need to achieve the best for the company which is the goodwill.
The effects of this would be Lewis’s dismissal, which is unethical, , but the basis here is the intention, the goodwill. Therefore, on the basis of Kantian ethics Lewis’s actions were ethical and moral. References Altman, M. C. (2011). Kant and applied ethics: The uses and limits of Kant's practical philosophy. Chichester [etc. : Wiley-Blackwell. Breckler, S. J., Olsen, J. M., & Wiggins, E. C. (2006). Social psychology alive. Belmont, CA [u. a.: Thomson/Wadsworth. Betzler, M. (2008). Kant's Ethics of Virtue. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. Flynn, G.
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