Business Ethics: Smoking Issue Case Study

February 2, 2022 by Essay Writer

Ethical behavior has to be maintained at all times in the workplace by both the employees and the employer. This may not be easy where personal issues may lead to conflict especially between employees. In most cases, these personal issues are often not covered in the organizational rules since they are assumed to be personal liberties. In this case, some employees feel free to smoke and since they know that they may be affecting the others who don’t smoke, they avoid smoking in their presence.

On the other hand, there is an employee who doesn’t smoke and though she is normally not affected by the old smell of cigarette smoke, on a particular day the smell makes her feel nauseated. Since she cannot work under such conditions, she decides to complain to her boss who is now in a dilemma whether to stop the other employees from smoking or to punish the complainant.

Ethical Grid

One of the components of the ethical grid that openly manifests itself is Libertarianism. This is the identification of justice with an ideal of liberty and in this case whatever Charles Renford chooses to do should ensure that the liberty of all the parties to the dilemma is observed.

The Consequentialist theory, which dictates that the moral rightness or wrongness of an action based on the consequences or results of the action, is also observed. This is in reference to the organization itself, the non-smoking employees and the smokers in the organization.

Utilitarianism which dictates that we should act in ways that produce the most pleasure or happiness for the greatest number of people suggests that if majority of the employees are non-smokers, then it would be advisable for Renford to instill a strict no-smoking policy at the workplace. On the other hand, if there are more non-smokers, it would be advisable for the management to provide separate working quarters for non-smokers like Darlene where they can be comfortable.

Hedonism is one of the aspects identified which suggests that pleasure is the only thing that is good, it is the ultimate good, and the one thing in life worth pursuing for its own sake. In this case, Darlene exhibits this with her personal pleasure taking preference over that of others.

It is important to note that her problem is not the actual smoke, but rather the old smell of smoke. This suggests that she may have other problems with the perfumes or body odors of other employees or the general smell of office stationery. This doesn’t mean that other employees have to suffer for her comfort.

Ethical values violated

Utilitarianism has been ignored as the comfort of employees is sacrificed for the achievement of organizational goals. The comfort of the employees is a right and employers should seek to uphold their employees moral as well as legal rights at all times. This may at times conflict with their organizational goals, but they should not take preference over the personal rights of other people.

Ethical reasoning to be applied

The decision made by Renford should ensure that the companies targets are met, but at the comfort of all the employees. In this case, he is left with one option, which is to give the job to someone else that has no problem with old smoke, so that it is completed in time. He also has to provide the employees with a smoking zone where non-smokers will not interact with the smokers. This will ensure that non-smokers are comfortable especially Darlene, and the smokers’ rights to smoke are observed and the job is done in time.

New outcomes predicted using the ethical analysis

The decision of Renford may result in labor union action, employee resistance and reduced productivity as they will know that if they ever have personal issues at the workplace they will probably be ignored or even fired as the organization’s management cares more about the organizational goal than the personal needs of the employees.

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