Ethics in the Workplace

Topics: Smoking, Employment, Nicotine Pages: 6 (2054 words) Published: January 8, 2006
Ethics in Management – PHL 323
Ethics in the Workplace Case Study Action Plan
Learning Team B: Cynthia Gibbs
Elizabeth Hedden
Dr. Christopher Klein, Facilitator
December 11, 2005
Ethics in the Workplace Case Study Action Plan
In 2003, Weyco Inc., a licensed third party medical benefits administrator based in Okemos, Michigan, announced that effective January 1, 2005, they would no longer hire smokers ( They were changing their policy to a Tobacco-Free Policy, which would not only prohibit employees from smoking in or around the workplace, but outside the workplace, including in the privacy of their own homes. Employees who worked for Weyco Inc. were given a 15-month time frame to kick the habit. Weyco offered cessation classes and payment for medication and treatments to help employees quit smoking. In January 2005, four Weyco employees were terminated for refusing to take a smoking breath test. Workplace Dilemma

Weyco's actions have created quite an uproar and spawned a controversial debate. This work place dilemma not only captured the attention of locals, but nationwide news coverage. The dilemma remains whether it is ethical for Weyco to regulate employee's tobacco use outside of the workplace. Opponents of Weyco's Tobacco-Free Policy argue that it is a violation of privacy. However, according to state and federal law, Weyco's actions are not illegal. There are two main parties who are affected by this workplace dilemma; Weyco employees, both smokers and non-smokers, and the corporation, Weyco Inc. Money, health, privacy, and contradicting principles are all factors that play a role in each party's stance to either support or oppose Weyco's Tobacco-Free Policy. Isolate the Problems

Being that Weyco is a medical benefits administrator, and they are "…in business to help other companies save money and improve employee health through innovative benefit plans," the corporation bases their principles on what they consider to be healthy lifestyles. Like any corporation, Weyco seeks to save money, especially since part of their business is to help other corporations save money. Weyco declares that "Michigan businesses have the right to protect themselves from the enormous financial harm that smokers inflict upon society. So do individual employees and taxpayers" ( Additionally, they provide the following information: •Michigan's smoking-related health-care costs amount to $2.65 billion a year. •Lost employee productivity due to smoking totals another $3.4 billion. •Every Michigan household pays $557 in taxes for smoking-related illnesses annually. •And each smoker costs his employer more than $4,000 a year in absenteeism, medical benefits, earnings lost to sickness or premature death, etc. ( While Weyco will reap financial benefits from their new Tobacco-Free Policy, they proclaim that their actions are "…not just about saving money, it is about saving lives" ( Weyco points out the following to support their stance: •Smoking kills 4.9 million people worldwide each year.

•In Michigan, the smoking death toll is 16,000 a year — more than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined. •On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than non-smokers. ( Lastly, in defense to the claim that they are violating their employees' privacy, Weyco declares that what employees do in the privacy of their own home is there business, "so long as it does not harm anyone else" ( In Weyco's opinion it would seem that they feel smoking can cause harm to finances and health to both employees and the corporation. While Weyco may have some valid points, the fact remains that employee's who smoke feel that not only is their privacy being invaded, but they incur other sufferings as well. Many question "what other personal...

References: Kittnar, G (2005, December 12). Smokers maligned Rockford Register Star, IL Retrieved December 12, 2005
Schultz, M., Lee, A., and Lacy, E. (2005, January 27). Workers fume as firms ban smoking at home. The Detroit News on the Web. Retrieved December 11, 2005 from
University of Phoenix (ED). (2002). Critical Thinking [University of Phoenix Custom Edition e-text]. The McGraw-Hill Companies. Retrieved August 16, 2005, from University of Phoenix, Resource MGT350
Wieland, B. (2004, October 2). Okemos firm bans all smoking. The Lansing State Journal on the Web. Retrieved December 11, 2005, from
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