Business Ethics Case Studies

In: Business and Management

Submitted By Courtneybailey
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The article ‘Lawyer says Virgin Blue displayed ‘unhealthy work culture’ in city office’ by Anthony Marx was published in The Courier-Mail on 14 March 2011. The article details how Virgin Blue allegedly discriminated against two female employees by forcing them to take redundancies after confirming they were pregnant or returning from maternity leave (Marx 2011, p. 1). Subsequently, both employees have initiated legal action against Virgin Blue who ‘has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to fight the claims’ (Marx 2011, p. 2).

The article raises three ethical issues. Firstly, it addresses the expectation that businesses should not discriminate against employees on the basis of gender (Ferrell, Fraedrich & Ferrell 2009, p. 70). Secondly, it highlights that abusive or intimidating behaviour is not acceptable in the workplace (Ferrell, Fraedrich & Ferrell 2009, p. 64). Thirdly, it identifies the role that an effective ethics program can play in avoiding ethical and legal problems (Ferrell, Fraedrich & Ferrell 2009, p. 212).

Businesses should not discriminate against employees on the basis of gender. Discrimination refers to ‘the making of a difference in particular cases, as in favour of or against a person or thing, especially when arising from prejudice based on race, ethnicity, sex, religion, age etc’ (Discrimination 2011). Virgin Blue allegedly discriminated against Leonie Vandeven by forcing her to take a redundancy package after she confirmed that she was pregnant (Marx 2011, p. 2). Vandeven was made redundant despite receiving a performance review, which rated her as ‘highly effective’ (Marx 2011, p. 2). Similarly, Kirsty Aitken was forced to take a redundancy package after returning from maternity leave (Marx 2011, p. 2).

The female employees ‘had worked together as part of the airline’s public relations team until mid-2010 when they were…...

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