Business Ethics

Is drug testing an unwarranted invasion of employee privacy? Which is more important--getting drugs out of the workplace or protecting the privacy of the employee?

An employer requiring employees to submit any drug testing entails a disclosure of the current medical identification and condition of any recently used non-prescription or prescription drugs. Any mandated testing represents an invasion of the employee’s privacy. According to the statute, an employee should only provide drug information to the person collecting sample or the MRO, and this information is not necessarily required to be given directly to an employer. Even though employees are deemed to be using alcohol and drugs, employers will usually have limited options in responding to such behavior. For instance, the Disabilities Act postulates that individuals under alcoholism have a disability, which is protected under the Act. Therefore, it is an unwarranted invasion of employee privacy for employers to conduct drug testing. This is apparent, where the Tenth Circuit rejected a policy requiring employees to disclose their drug use during a drug testing for illegal drugs (Sharp, 2006).

Protecting the privacy of employees is more vital than getting drugs out of the workplace. Although getting drugs out of the workplace is ethical, infringement of private rights may lead to a worse business scenario compared to retaining drugs within the workplace. It is better to respect the private rights of employees rather than abuse them. In fact, the statute supports upholding of private rights. Some individuals have prescriptions in taking certain drugs, which is likely to make employers have limited options in keeping drugs out of the workplace. Hence, private rights’ protection is an exceedingly critical issue. This argument is according to libertarian theory, which supports the central idea that individual freedom needs to be pursued always (Shaw & Barry, 2010).

What about other health-threatening activities, i.e. smoking outside of working hours, unprotected sex, etc. Should employers be able to question or test employees or potential employees about these activities?

Individuals have varying lifestyles, which need to be respected by others since this constitutes their private life. Smoking outside working hours constitutes a private life for a given worker, which is normal, although not socially desirable. Employers should respect what the society accepts as morally acceptable and morally unacceptable. However, in some cases, testing is vital in case it interferes with the performance of the worker. On the other hand, issues like having unprotected sex concerns a private life of an employee. Therefore, employers should not interfere with the private lives of employees, unless it is necessary. Involvement of employers in testing employees for health threatening activities, like smoking and unprotected sex, seeks to reveal the private life of employees, which may lead to exposing of employees. It is after an employer understands the private life of an employee that he may fire the worker on the ground of his behavior, but this is discretional.

Therefore, in any case, employees should not think of testing or questioning an employee or a potential worker about any health threatening activity, unless there is a noted problem with the behavior. Nevertheless, a firm should only have an interest in an employee’s behavior, if the behavior is affecting work performance (Shaw & Barry, 2010). Egoism can argue in this case; according to this theory, a conduct is morally right if it enhances an agent’s rights (Shaw & Barry, 2010). According to this theory, an employer may act in his best interest, where he decides to fire everybody that has tested positively for a drug test. In the same way, he may decide to keep all employees, despite them testing positive for a drug test.

Should employers be allowed to use polygraph tests to screen out potentially costly employees who may engage in illegal drug use or any of these activities?

The employer has a right to guard the performance of his organization or firm. Therefore, he can manipulate his firm the way he desires in order to get the desired outcome or performance. An employer can decide to utilize polygraph tests in screening out potentially costly employees, in case he feels that this is likely to aid in realizing the firm’s performance. Sometimes, some employees may not perform properly because they may be using drugs, which hinder their performance. In this scenario, the employer should be allowed to carry out polygraph tests in screening out potentially costly employees. However, screening out potentially costly employees is not the issue, but the issue is the use of polygraph tests to a category of employees. In any case, if the employer desires to carry out a drug test, the employer should use the same technique or approach to all employees. All employees need a similar treatment from the employer. Therefore, if it is a polygraph test, it should be applied to all employees, but not to relatively costly employees. In case if polygraph test is going to be applied to the relatively costly employees, then employers should not be permitted to use the test. This case applies to Rawl’s theory that postulates that only fair and just principles should be permitted in organizations (Shaw & Barry, 2010).

Should employers be allowed to require that applicants or employees give the employer access to digital information, such as Facebook or Twitter?

Because of the rising use of technology, sharing of private information has been necessitated. This implies that through accessing another person’s social media account, it is possible to access the person’s private data (Taylor, 2010). Therefore, employers should not be permitted to require employees or applicants to provide digital information such as Twitter or Facebook, since this will lead to invasion of privacy. This argument is according to libertarian theory, which supports the central idea that individual freedom needs to be pursued always (Shaw & Barry, 2010).

 

References

Sharp, D. J. (2006). Cases in business ethics. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications.

Shaw, W. H. (2011). Business ethics. Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

Shaw, W. H., & Barry, V. E. (2013). Moral issues in business. Australia: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Taylor, P. (2000). Ethical issues in business: Inquiries, cases, and readings. Peterborough, Ont: Broadview Press.

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