ETH 501 Module 3 CA Essay

Submitted By lgarodriguez
Words: 1814
Pages: 8



Module 3 – Case Assignment

ETH 501

Business Ethics


Is one’s genetic make up an issue of personal or physical privacy, and does your place of employment have the right to intrude on your privacy without having a serious cause, reason, or valid justification? Does testing for genetic abnormalities help to identify individuals who may be susceptible to carcinogens or chemicals that can lead to long-term health issues, or is genetic testing another form of racial and ethnic discrimination in the workplace? At Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF), these same questions were the basis for a lawsuit when the company used genetic testing as part of a comprehensive diagnostic medical examination. Blood samples were taken without employee consent and was required if an employee filed a claim of work- related carpal tunnel syndrome injuries. (1) Employees who refused to submit to the medical examination faced disciplinary action or termination. Therefore I ask, “Did BNSF have the cause or the right to intrude on their employees’ physical privacy, or was the BNSF acting within the best interest of the company by implementing genetic testing as a means of identifying those who may be predisposed to carpal tunnel syndrome?” Genetic testing includes both genetic screening and monitoring. In genetic screening, workers are examined for possible genetic predispositions for example to chemically caused diseases. In genetic monitoring, workers are tested for genetic damage caused by possible exposure to chemicals in the workplace. (3) Advocates of genetic testing will argue that genetic screening can significantly reduce incidence of occupational disease by providing information on genetic disorders an individual may possess. Employers can use the information obtained from genetic testing to ensure that prospective or current employees are not placed in hazardous environments that could affect the long-term health of company employees. An additional argument in support of genetic testing is that the screening could reduce the company costs caused by lowered productivity, excess absenteeism, high employee turnover, as well as costs associated with worker’s compensation payments, health insurance and liability for occupational disease. However, critics of genetic testing are fearful of unjust treatment that may be based solely on a person’s genetic traits instead of being fair treatment based on skills, knowledge or experience. As arguments are made to dispute the benefits of genetic testing; what can’t be argued is the stigmatism that healthy individuals may become classified as “defective,” thus making it difficult for them to find work. (5)
Genetic testing is often criticized for being a violation of an individual’s right to privacy. Since “privacy” is a key term when discussing genetic testing, it is important to have a clear idea and understanding of what privacy is. A person has privacy to the extent that others have limited access to information about that person, limited access to intimacies about their life, and limited access to their thoughts or body. Privacy refers not only to one’s mind and body, but also to their possessions. (3) Therefore, matters of possessions that are made public, have a limited “sphere, zone, or territory” around a person and is often referred to when discussing privacy. As a result, privacy is on applicable within certain boundaries surrounding an individual. Two terms that arise from privacy are “sphere of privacy” and “private sphere.” Private sphere is a zone in which an individual should be allowed to make their own decision, whereas the sphere of privacy is a zone in which legitimate concerns may arise about other’s access to another individual’s personal information. Access to an individual’s personal information is one of the biggest arguments